'This What Got Them Into Trouble the First Time': Ex-Sen. Maj. Leader Daschle on Clinton vs. Obama

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 25, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The notion that I had plagiarized from somebody who is one of my national co-chairs, who gave me the line and suggested I use it, I think is silly.// And this is where we start getting into silly season in politics.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That's a very simple proposition. And lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in, it's change you can Xerox.


HANNITY: And that was one of the testier moments from last week's Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton continued to accuse Barack Obama of plagiarism. Now with a response, author of the brand new book "Critical, What We Can Do About the Health Care Crisis," former Senate Majority Leader and Barack Obama supporter, Tom Daschle is with us. Senator, welcome to the program.

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You actually were pretty strong in your condemnation of former President Bill Clinton. This was during the whole South Carolina controversy, and you said he wasn't acting presidential. You didn't think his conduct was in keeping of the image of a former president, that you were surprised that he was taking the approach that he was taking. It seems listening to Hillary this weekend, shame on you, Barack Obama; it doesn't seem they've learned anything.

TOM DASCHLE, AUTHOR, "CRITICAL": Well, this has been a very caustic week again, and I thought they had learned the lesson right before South Carolina, Sean. This is really what got them into trouble the first time. I think that they're going to find the same reaction among people today. People don't want to see that. They want to see the party and the politicians talk about things that they care about, not the kind of back-biting, silly season stuff that Barack was talking about just a minute ago.

So this isn't going to get them anywhere. It may make them feel better, but this isn't going to work.

HANNITY: You know, as a conservative I kind of feel a little bit resentful in this way — it's not a big deal — but for all the years I feel that the Clintons used those tactics, that they would go after their political adversaries, when it was a Republican they were after, it was acceptable. But now Democrats I think see these tactics which have not changed over the years, and all of the sudden it's not quite as acceptable. — Is that a fair observation?

DASCHLE: Well, I guess what I would say, Sean, is that I thought back in the 1990's when we saw that, it was going both ways. Barack has tried not to get involved at that level and tried to stay above it, so I think it's more one way this time, and that's how at least I would see the difference. It can go both ways very easily, and I hope we can avoid that in the remaining months or weeks of this primary season.

HANNITY: One of the things I did notice, by the way, is that that both Barack Obama and Harry Reid have supported your book. We had an interesting dialogue. Health care is something that's important to me and my family and obviously to every American. I think we can improve the system in terms of access, cost. We still want to make it free-market based. But as it relates to Barack Obama, Republicans are saying, like Hillary Clinton [does], gives great speeches, but where's the substance? And he seems to be inclined to think the government can be the answer to all things.

His health care proposal would add 45 million people, and he says he can reduce the cost of everybody that buys insurance by 2,500 dollars a year. Do you think that's possible?

DASCHLE: I think, in the longer term, it is possible, but I think it would be a mischaracterization to say that Barack Obama believes that it's government that's going to solve this problem. He believes in the public- private partnership. Today, we've got about 45 percent of the people in this country who get their health care from government; 55 percent get it from the private sector. That's not going to change a whole lot.

We'd like to see all 45 or 47 million of those people get their care from the private sector if it's at all possible, but clearly there's going to have to be some sort of a relationship recognizing that some people can't pay. You're going to have Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, Indian Affairs issues. You're going to have Medicare and Medicaid.

So, to a certain extent, that's the way our system is always going to be. What we can do is make it more efficient. What we can do is end the cost shifting. We can bring down the cost and the paperwork and the bureaucracy, and that's what both Barack Obama and I really want to do, and I'm sure you do too.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: It's Alan Colmes. Good to have you on our show live. Good to have you with us tonight. You talk about in your book a Federal Reserve type system for the medical community. Explain how that concept transfers to health care.

DASCHLE: I think there are a lot of similarities between health care and our banking system that just don't seem apparent on the surface. We have a largely private banking system. I would like to see a largely private health care system. We have a private system that is backed up by government guarantees and a regulatory system largely run by probably the least bureaucratic agency of the federal government, the Federal Reserve. They have a few hundred employees is all, and yet they're able to regulate the monetary policy in this country, to make the private system work as effectively as it does.

That's exactly the kind of model I'd like to see in our health care system, reduce the bureaucracy, give the autonomy and the kind of ability to the federal health board that allows them to make the tough decisions. Today, Congress is making reimbursement on oxygen. And you just can't do that with any kind of efficiency or certainty.

COLMES: It's hard to get this all in in the short time we have here. You believe that Americans should be guaranteed health care, but how do you get conservatives on board with that concept?

DASCHLE: Well, I think that there's certain things that we've tried to do in our country, Sean. One is education. We really want to make sure that everybody is guaranteed an education. I think health is just an extension of that. It doesn't have to be a government program to make that happen. We can do it just as well in the private sector, in many cases, and that ought to be our goal.

COLMES: Are you getting any push-back by from the Clintons? You were on their side during impeachment. Now that you're supporting Barack Obama, have they come after you and said anything to you? Are friendships broken at all?


DASCHLE: I'll be fine. We're friends, and we'll be friends after this is all over with.

HANNITY: If she wins, you better watch out where your tax returns.

COLMES: Have you been audited?

HANNITY: No comment.

COLMES: Senator, thank you very much for being with us. Great to see you. Congratulations on the book.

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