Author Frank Luntz on Fr. Pfleger's Controversial Statements

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," May 30, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.



FR. MICHAEL PFLEGER: Get the sucker who's been raping me and make him pay. For America has been raping people of color, and America has to pay the price for the rape.



And then out of nowhere came hey, I'm Barack Obama, and she said, oh, damn, where did you come from?!! I'm white! I'm entitled!



There's a black man stealing my show!!!!

I would not allow them to tear down Malcolm, and I'll be damned if I'm going to sit back while you tear down Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright. How dare you!


COLMES: There's more from Father Pfleger's questionable sermons, and here with reaction, our own Frank Luntz. Words that work. Those words don't seem to work for anybody. I'm interested in what you have to say about the apologies that we have heard because the mea culpas come pretty quickly after the sermons get discovered.

Watch Sean and Alan's interview with Frank Luntz

FRANK LUNTZ, AUTHOR, "WORDS THAT WORK"; POLLSTER: The mea culpas come but the sermon is still delivered. They know what they're doing. I don't think it's a surprise.

And to hear a man of the cloth use the "D" word which I'm not sure if I can repeat or not, there is something wrong here. There is something desperately wrong with the lexicon and it is coming from the pulpit and that is what makes it even more shocking.

They know better. They know what they should and should not be doing. I don't know if they're trying to sell books, I don't know if they're trying to make a splash, but it is absolutely not helpful to any political candidate to have this kind of rhetoric coming from the pulpit. You see the pictures before you right now. They may smile, but that is hate on the inside, and it comes on the outside. And it's got to stop, Alan.

COLMES: When Pfleger comes forward and he says, "I regret the words I chose on Sunday. These words are inconsistent with Senator Obama's life and message, and I'm deeply sorry if they hurt Senator Clinton or anyone else who saw them."

I mean, it sounds like he is saying the right thing. Is there anything more he should say? He clearly regrets what he said, and the fact that we're all talking about it...

LUNTZ: No, Alan, no! He doesn't clearly regret anything. When you create a sermon, when you craft a sermon, you choose your words very carefully. They don't come out at random. Whether you are a rabbi, a priest or a minister, the sermon is the most important part of the service, it is what they pay the most attention to. And that kind of language, that kind of rhetoric, and using the "D" word from the pulpit, a man of the cloth? There's something horrifically wrong here, and it should be condemned and the apologies, quite frankly, I'm not sure if they should be accepted.

COLMES: Does that include the apologies of Rod Parsley and John Hagee and the other side of the plate?

LUNTZ: Alan, absolutely. On all sides it's time for the religious figures, for these guys to back off, stop trying to make news and let the candidates make the case for themselves.

HANNITY: Let me make the distinctions. The difference between the associations with Barack Obama and Ayers and with Wright and with this new pastor, this priest, and others, in the case of this new priest, they've been friends for 20 years. I found a piece in The Chicago Sun-Times from '04 where Barack Obama says this Father helps him "keep his compass set," and yet they embrace...

I think the issue here is the long-term relationships with extreme radicals. This is not — once he knew Reverend Wright was nuts, 10 years into the relationship, it was time to let him go, wasn't it?

LUNTZ: I understand the distinction, and I do not believe that Barack Obama handled Reverend Wright well. But let's face it, the bigotry on the right and the bigotry on the left, there is no difference.

HANNITY: But Frank, you're missing my point, Frank. I'm not talking about, these are long-term relationships, 20 years with Wright. He went to William Ayers' home, he's friends with him, gave speeches with him in spite of that relationship, he's friends with this guy for 20 years. You know, we can all meet people in our lives that are nuts, but after one, two, three years don't you have an obligation to dissociate yourself?

LUNTZ: You do have an obligation, but I will say it once again, Sean, bigotry on the right and on the left it does not know any ideological bounds.

HANNITY: Give me a comparable example, Frank.

LUNTZ: Sean, if they're saying things that are hostile to a race, hostile to a religion, hostile to a culture, from the pulpit. Religion is meant to raise you up, not bring you down.

HANNITY: But that's not the point. Give me a comparable example where a Republican has long-term relationships with radicals?

LUNTZ: That's not the point. The point is if someone's making comments that are socially unacceptable that we should hold them accountable when they're on the right side or the left side. And right now they seem to becoming from the left side.

HANNITY: I'm all for that but that's a platitude. You're giving me a cliche. I'm looking at the bigger picture here. This is about to me the long-term relationships with really radical people. A church that praises one of the biggest racists and anti-Semites in the country. This is about judgment and frankly about honesty, about the nature of the relationships, isn't it?

LUNTZ: But here's the point. I'm not looking at this from a political perspective. I'm looking at this, what I think is actually wider. That I think that the social and moral fabric of this country is actually more important than a single presidential race.

HANNITY: I agree with that.

LUNTZ: And when it starts to come from people who promote the Bible, that's when it gets frightening.

HANNITY: I guess my only point, if he's friends with him for 20 years, if he's raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through earmarks for his church, if he says that this father helps him keep his compass set, this is Wright, Ayers, his San Francisco comments, Michelle's comments, it's just a pattern that is beyond troubling at this point, isn't it?

LUNTZ: I do not disagree with you, but I actually think that this raises a bigger picture, a bigger point. — What is happening in the churches across America that we have people like this who are preaching division? And hate? That's what I don't understand, Sean.

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