George Will Discusses Obama's Trouble with Key Voters

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 5, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

KRISTIN POWERS, GUEST CO-HOST: Barack Obama may have won the Democratic nomination. But...

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Well, he may have won the nomination but, of course, he is moving forward in the campaign. Barack Obama still faces an uphill battle. Several key states, many new voting demographics. His inability to secure the support of white voters plagued him during the primary season and could be his Achilles' heel come November.

So is a Clinton VP nod the answer?

Joining us now the author of the brand new book "One Man's America: The Pleasures of Provocations of Our Singular Nation," our good friend George Will is back.

George, good to see you my friend.


HANNITY: All right. I know it's not Sam or it's not Cokie, but I've been — I'm a fan of yours.

You know you said something the other day to me — and you dedicate this book to William F. Buckley — and you said you are a conservative. You're not — Republicanism is very different than conservatism.

WILL: And getting more different by the day, yes.

HANNITY: Explain.

WILL: Well, the other day, 100 — count them — 100 Republicans in the House voted to pass this extravagant and ridiculous farm bill at a moment when farm profits are at an all-time high and food prices are soaring.

The Republicans have forgotten the basic law of holes which is when you are in a hole, quit digging because they are damaging the Republican brand already much damaged by the day.

HANNITY: What do you make of the fact that a lot of conservatives are not happy with the choice of Senator McCain for president?

I'm a big fan of yours. I'm a big fan of Thomas Sowell, the last two lines of his column today said "Senator McCain has been criticized in this column many, many times. But when all said and done, he has not spent decades aiding and abetting people who hate America.

On the contrary, he's paid a huge price for resisting our enemies even when — they held him prisoner and tortured him. And the choice between him and Barack is a no-brainer."

Do you think the McCain people are just counting on the fact that he's not Barack Obama?

WILL: Well, I think there are a lot of people out there who are McCain supporters in the way that I am. I am a supporter of McCain's mother, who gave us the excellent advice that, in the end, we should hold our nose and vote for her son.

His record is mixed. Everyone's record is mixed. But on spending he is sound. I happen to think he's right on immigration but it will set me at odds with some conservatives. I'm strenuous opponent of his McCain- Feingold law. Indeed I believe I hold the Olympic indoor and outdoor records for most columns written critical of John McCain.

But, in the end, a sufficient consideration is this, Sean. On inauguration day 2009, the oldest justice on the Supreme Court, also the most liberal, John Paul Stevens, will be 88 years old. Ruth Bader Ginsberg will be 76. She's probably the second most liberal.

Any president who serves two full terms will replace through rolling attrition about half the federal judiciary. So it matters tremendously who is the president.

HANNITY: I agree and he has promised to put justices on the court and likes Scalia and more specifically Roberts and Alito were the names that he mentioned most often.

George, we just put up the "Hannity & Colmes" electoral map, and right now we see that Barack Obama is leading Senator McCain.

Got a lot of close races, a lot of swing states, a lot of purple states up there. You look like — in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, we have blue right now.

But, do you think it's going to be that close come November?

WILL: Let me offer a cautionary consideration with regard to all polls at this point.

Any poll, Sean, is no better than the template it has of the model of the expected turnout —- the size of the total turnout and the composition of the turnout. It is possible, not certain, but it is possible that most of the existing models of turnout state by state from North Carolina, Georgia, Nebraska, all of them could be out of date if, in fact — and it's an if — if Barack Obama changes the size and composition of the electorate.

That is if he brings out more African-American voters and if he brings out more young voters who traditionally are excitable but not diligent as voters.

POWERS: Hi, George. It's Kirsten Powers. How are you?

WILL: I'm well. You?

POWERS: It's great to see you. I'm good.

What — let's say Barack Obama does do what you just said, what states do you think that he could win that — you know, Democrats traditionally aren't winning and hear people throwing around the idea that maybe he can win Virginia?

I mean, do you think this is realistic? He could start moving some states into the blue column?

WILL: Well, Virginia has elected two consecutive Democratic governors, as it selected the last time it elected a senator, it elected Jim Webb, a Democrat.

I don't see why one should assume that's out of the possibility. A long time ago, Governor Kaine of Virginia, a Democrat, endorsed Barack Obama. Asked the question, can a Democrat carry Virginia? He said the right Democrat and promptly endorsed Obama. So I trust Governor Kaine's sense of his own state.

I would, frankly, like to see polling in the state of Georgia, which - - with Barack Obama running with Sam Nunn as his running mate.

POWERS: Right.

WILL: I think there — in 2004, Bush against Kerry, 12 states were carried by 5 percent or less, six of them by Bush, six of them by Kerry. So those 12 states are automatically in play.

But, beyond that, there may be other states in play. I think we're in terra incognito with regard to polling.

POWERS: And do you think — I mean the foot side of that is that McCain, obviously, appeals to a lot of people that Republicans wouldn't normally appeal to. And he's now come out and said that he's going to go after Hillary's voters.

And you know, how is he going to be able to thread that needle in terms of keeping the conservatives excited but then going after those voters?

WILL: Well, I think the phrase Hillary's voters, in this case, refers to white, blue-collar, Democrats.

POWERS: Right.

WILL: Traditionally known as Reagan Democrats.

There's one problem with that, however. It has been 28 years since those people were named Reagan Democrats in the 1980 election. The changes in the economy, the changes in the educational and social structure of our society over 28 years, which is a long time in this country, means that there are fewer Reagan Democrats than there were then. Still a significant number but not the numbers that existed...

POWERS: Right.

WILL: 1980.

POWERS: OK. Great. We'll be right back. We'll have more with George Will after the break.


HANNITY: And we continue now with the author of "One Man's America," George Will.

All right. So let me ask you about the radical long-term associations that Barack Obama has had. We have the conviction of Tony Rezko. We got Reverend Wright. We got Father Pfleger. We got Bill Ayers.

Are you surprised as I am? You know here are the most radical members in society, long-term relationships that it hasn't had a greater impact if the polls for Barack Obama?

WILL: It's not done having its impact for two reasons. I do not believe that the Reverend Wright has gone to earth and is going to be hibernation until the middle of November.

I think the Reverend Wright dislikes Barack Obama. I can only interpret his performance at the National Press Club as a deliberate and successful attempt to injure Barack Obama., perhaps as retribution for Obama asking him to stay off the podium when Obama announced his candidacy.


WILL: Second, the way — John McCain can't make these an issue. This is the sort of thick that gets done by independent expenditure groups called 527s. And John McCain in his saintliness says — said that he is opposed to 527s. So it's going to be a little hard for him to take advantage of what they can do on his behalf.

HANNITY: Yes. He — we were talking with Dick Morris earlier about the issue of vice president.

Hillary has her surrogates out there working behind the scenes and starting these petitions and putting pressure. She is saying it's Barack Obama's choice. Dick's take is she really wants that position pretty badly. I think I agree with him.

Do you think it would be a good choice for Obama? And do you think she's pressuring him?

WILL: It would be a ghastly choice. Leave aside the fact that Barack Obama right now is the beneficiary of an enormous wave of gratitude from the millions of Americans who thank him for closing the Clinton parenthesis in the history of the American presidency.

Beyond that, Sean, when a voter looks at the perspective vice president, the voter says what if the president dies? When a president look at her — a presidential nominee looks at a potential running mate, he says what if I live?

What if Barack Obama would have her down the hall nursing her grievances and her presidential aspirations which are, I believe, undimmed, he would have her energetic and interestingly...

POWERS: Right.

WILL: ... temperamental president in the wings also with all of his interesting business associates. What does she bring to him? She brings him New York. If he can't carry New York without her he's going to lose anyway.

But people say he will bring the women who were attached to her. Once the women who are her sort of women understand that John McCain is, A, pro life and, B, going to appoint Supreme Court justices, they'll fall into line soon enough.

POWERS: Well...

WILL: I see no gain from this for Barack Obama.

POWERS: Well, it's interesting that you raise that, because an argument that some people who make who are Hillary supporters, they'll say, look, these people who are — you know, they will bring up the choice issue in this.

Look, they voted for Reagan and so — I know you were saying that it's — you know, it's a totally different group of people. But don't you think even if he lost 5 or 10 percent of these people could be a problem for Obama?

WILL: It would be a problem. But far from uniting the Democratic Party by taking Hillary, he would be uniting the Republican Party behind John McCain as nothing else could do it.

POWERS: Right.

WILL: I hear this truly puzzling talk. They say Barack Obama and Hillary have to unite the two wings of the party. There is the left wing and then there is the other left wing. There aren't two wings of the Democratic Party.

Someone said recently that Obama and Clinton are as similar as the Everly Brothers. I think that's true.

POWERS: Well, yes. As a Democrat, I think a lot of people see Hillary as maybe being a little more to the center and what some people say is — her voters would be attracted to McCain because, for example, they have similar positions on talking to Iran. You know...

WILL: Well...

POWERS: Sorry, go ahead.

WILL: Yes. But the one substantive policy difference they have Obama is to her right. That is he does not want to mandate as she wants to mandate universal health coverage.

POWERS: Right. Yes.

Well, so what would you recommend he do with Hillary? Because this — he's going to have to, you know, do something with her. She is hopefully going to be campaigning for him, I guess. But, you know, how would — should he handle that situation?

WILL: I think all the pressure is on her to be a good citizen and go out and campaign for him. He has bigger fish to fry and much more attractive choices. He could take Governor Strickland from Ohio. No Republican has ever carried the White House without carrying Ohio.

Strickland is from the Appalachian southeast of that state. He's an ordained Methodist minister. He has an A rating from the National Rifle Association.

POWERS: Right.

WILL: They don't make Democrats like this anymore.

POWERS: OK. All right. Thank you so much, George Will.

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