This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 4, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: We begin right here in our New York studio with a very special guest, former Senate majority leader and presidential nominee, Bob Dole is with us, from 1996. How are you, my friend?
BOB DOLE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Fine.
HANNITY: Good to see you. Let's get into this. You sent a letter to Rush Limbaugh.
DOLE: An, e-mail. I don't know how to do that. Somebody else did it.
HANNITY: First of all, did you leak that to the press?
DOLE: I think somebody did after 3:00.
HANNITY: From your office or McCain's office?
DOLE: I don't know. We just sent a copy to Rick Davis.
HANNITY: You didn't purposely — I actually contacted Rush, and one of the things he said in an e-mail exchange that we just had, he said that he loves you. He's always respected you –
DOLE: We're buddies.
HANNITY: And he didn't interpret your email as a scolding, as the Politico referred to it.
DOLE: It was a report, not an endorsement or anything, just a report.
HANNITY: He was prepping a response, and now that it's all public, he's going to do it on the air tomorrow. Why would somebody release a private correspondence like that?
DOLE: E-mail, private, I don't know.
HANNITY: When you sent it to Rush, did you expect it to be leaked to the press.
DOLE: I figured somebody would find out about it. In fact, I heard it on the radio somewhere. Anyway, I assume he wasn't going to use it at 3:00, so then we did give it to people after 3:00. But I figured off the air. I made it very clear that I disagreed with Senator McCain, but I also reported what happened when I was the leader and he was a senator.
HANNITY: And you talk about you got out of the Senate in 1996.
DOLE: In June, I voluntarily left to run.
HANNITY: Most of the votes - I'm going to run down –
DOLE: It happened after I left. They missed me.
HANNITY: He not only was against the Bush tax cuts, which you reference in the letter, but he also used the class warfare rhetoric, that this would benefit the wealthy. McCain-Feingold –
DOLE: That was terrible. I said so in my email to Rush.
HANNITY: You said that one there? McCain/Kennedy, 12 to 14 million would have, ostensibly, amnesty.
DOLE: But I also pointed out that under President Reagan in '86 we had amnesty, 2.7 million illegals get amnesty, and I didn't hear a peep out of anybody. The fact is, McCain voted against that bill in the House.
HANNITY: You've got also McCain/Lieberman, Guantanamo Bay. He's against drilling in ANWAR.
DOLE: He's probably cast I don't know how many thousand votes. I don't agree with all of them. I tried to make it very objective there. I think he was wrong about Romney, saying that Romney was for a withdrawal date for troops in Iraq. I didn't interpret it that way, and I listened to both you and Alan talk about it.
HANNITY: You said in the letter to him, I can't recall a single instance where he didn't support the party on critical votes.
DOLE: What I meant was, when I would go to McCain and say I've got to have your vote, I can't recall a single time when he told me — maybe it wasn't the party — told me I can't vote with you.
HANNITY: I guess my question is he's changed that. I mean –
HANNITY: He also once said I'm sure Hillary Clinton would make a good president. Those are his words.
DOLE: Well, we make mistakes. I've made a lot, and I've heard a few on this program.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: You're looking when you said it. You're looking right.
HANNITY: I'm only saying, if Mitt Romney got the nomination, would you support him?
DOLE: I think he's a great candidate. I pointed out some of his strengths. I look back and wished I had the business experience that Romney has. Huckabee is still in the race. I think he's probably not a big factor. Romney is actually against two people. He's running against McCain and Huckabee.
HANNITY: I've listed –
DOLE: Did you read — look at the percentage of scorecard on supporting the president.
HANNITY: That was until 1996. Tax cuts, Kennedy, Feingold, Lieberman, Guantanamo, Anwar, interrogation, he wouldn't abolish the death tax, he said wouldn't appeal Roe v. Wade. I'm laying out for you the conservative line. I'm a conservative and I think he's a liberal Republican. I do not believe — at least since 1996 forwards, he's been a pretty liberal Republican.
I like him. I think he's a war hero. I think he's somebody we all admire.
DOLE: I certainly admire him. As I said in my note to Rush, I wore his bracelet. He didn't know about it until 1995. But I wore it for a couple of years. He was still in the Hanoi Hilton. I don't think we even have to mention the military part. I went back and looked at the American Conservative Union ratings that Senator Helms kind of dictated. He always had a hundred. And I was at a lower score than McCain.
COLMES: Senator, welcome back to our show. By the way, now that we have the Patriot Act, those emails were public the minute they –
DOLE: I guess so.
COLMES: Look, you know, you're not going to pull an Ann Coulter, are you, and say you're going to support Hillary Clinton?
DOLE: Oh, no. In fact, I sent Ann an e-mail today and said don't support Hillary Clinton. I told them what happened in 1996. I had all my signs out Dole in 1996 and they changed them all and said, Dole is 96.
COLMES: You look great, by the way. You haven't changed. Are conservatives making a mistake attacking McCain on the issues that Sean mentioned, day after day? Is this a mistake the conservatives are making?
DOLE: I believe I'm a conservative. I think I've always been a conservative, when it comes to the issues, judges, pro-life, whatever. And I think you can — it's a little over-kill there. John McCain was a good senator, as long as I worked with him and participated. We sat in meetings for hour after hour after hour. He does have a little independent streak.
COLMES: We don't want that.
DOLE: We wanted it as a senator, we don't want — you know — but –
COLMES: The "Washington Post" today had a piece out about — suggesting that there was a lack of goodwill toward John McCain on the part of some establishment senators.
DOLE: That's because he's going after their earmarks. He even voted on two from Kansas. They weren't pork barrel, obviously. But he said, I'm going to have to vote on this. I said, go ahead. He lost. It was across the board. It was fair. And I think he's a man of integrity. But Romney is a good candidate. Huckabee's a good candidate. I don't think he probably has too much of a chance now, but –
COLMES: If McCain is the nominee, and it looks increasingly likely that he would be, who would be a good vice-presidential choice for him?
DOLE: I don't really know. I hadn't really thought about it. But Florida's a key state, and Governor Crist is very popular and gave John McCain a very key endorsement. He was my state chairman when I ran, great guy.
COLMES: He would be a good choice.
DOLE: Great choice, yes. There are others. You could start making a list. And maybe Huckabee would be on the list. I don't know. I had Judge Scalia on my list. Probably shouldn't –
COLMES: Judge Scalia was on your list to be VP?
DOLE: I never contacted him.
COLMES: Is that right?
HANNITY: You should have had Rush Limbaugh.
DOLE: I had the same problem with some people; Bob Dole isn't conservative enough. Well, this is one way to take care of that.
COLMES: Is there a real division in the party, that's either good or bad for the party, about not being conservative enough, or is it a big tent party, where you can have a John McCain and a Jesse Helms in the same party?
DOLE: No, I think — we have our differences, but one thing that's going to unite us would be if Hillary Clinton's nominated. I personally like Hillary Clinton. But I think she would unite the Republican party, all tiers of it, T-I-E-R-S.
COLMES: Thank you for spelling it. We like to have those reading along with the show.
DOLE: Where there's another tear of the day.
COLMES: Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, how important is it that a Senator McCain get along with someone like Mitch? You've been in that position yourself, where McConnell is. And according to the "Washington Post" today, they're not particularly close.
DOLE: I think they can bridge that gap. It's not a bridge too far. It's one that they're going to work on. If McCain is the nominee, we're going to get together. If Romney's the nominee or Huckabee is the nominee, we're a Republican party. Not everybody agrees with Hannity.
COLMES: Who do you prefer?
DOLE: I prefer Elizabeth's reelection in North Carolina.
HANNITY: What do you mean, not everybody agrees with me? Where am I wrong?
DOLE: All those other things you read. I agree with those things that you read, but…
HANNITY: You agree with me?
COLMES: Do you have a preference between McCain and Romney?
DOLE: Well, my heart's kind of with McCain, but, again, I'm staying out of it. I don't have any dogs — I don't want to say dogs. That would say you don't have a good candidate. But I don't have anybody in this fight.
HANNITY: Alan likes Republicans fighting. He's happy as can be.
DOLE: We're always fighting. I had to take on Steve Forbes. He spent 40 million dollars, and pour Newt Gingrich — wasn't his fault — when you shut down the government you're not too popular. And every ad the Clintons ran had me and Newt in it.
COLMES: The way you guys are going, my job's almost not necessary at this point. But listen, —
HANNITY: Are you quitting, retiring?
COLMES: I got him excited. You hear that?
DOLE: No, I'm the middle, I'm the moderate here.
COLMES: You are. Thank you so much, senator, great to see you. Thanks for being here tonight.
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