Hannity Rival Fritz Hollings on 'H&C'

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

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: And we're now just 132 days away from November 4.

Our next guest no stranger to elections. Earnest "Fritz" Hollings has had a wonderful career in public office, having served for than a span of 56 years. And joining us tonight, his first "Hannity & Colmes" appearance, to talk about his book, "Making Government Work," former South Carolina Senator Earnest Fritz Hollings.

What took so long, Senator? Good to have you on the show tonight.

EARNEST "FRITZ" HOLLINGS, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA SENATOR: Well, I just wrote the book. It came out last week. I really appreciate it, because this is the first show I've been on.

Video: Watch Sean and Alan's interview with Sean's longtime rival Enest 'Fritz' Hollings

COLMES: Appreciate it very much. Now you said you didn't want to talk about your World War II hero. You want to talk about growing up in a log cabin. You wanted to talk about your failures, you said, in this book.

HOLLINGS: Well, that's the -- that's the fact. What we did, early on, when I was first in state politics in 1948 and on up to 2005, it worked. And at the federal government it worked. But, it doesn't work anymore now. They're in gridlock up there, and what we're doing is the national parties have sort of taken over.

And we, in turn, are working around the clock. The Senate is the hardest working group in the entire world, but they're working on the campaign and raising money. They're not working on the needs of the country. And that's our problem.

COLMES: You say we're in constant campaign mode. It's one constant campaign. It didn't used to be that way as a six-year-term Senator, or six years per term Senator, correct?

HOLLINGS: Well, that's what old Dick Russell used to say. They gave you six years in the United States Senate, two years to be a statesman, two to be a politician and then the last two years to demagogue. We spent all six years raising money.

COLMES: You said you urged the public, you were the first person to have court-ordered integration of public schools and get Harvey Gant as the first black student at Clemson. You -- you were very active there.

Earlier Slate magazine reported that you had a short time as a segregationist and Howard Raines of the Times, when he asked you about that, you said you didn't know it was wrong just after the fact, that you knew it was wrong back at the time. Is that an accurate quote?

HOLLINGS: I think it is accurate. The truth of the matter is, I went up on the arguments of Brown against the Board of Education. Actually, the leading case was Briggs against Elliott before the United States Supreme Court. That's the one Thurgood Marshall argued.

And when I heard Gabby Hayes, one of the African-American attorneys say, "Look, we fought in the front lines in Europe, and then we come home and we have to sit in the back of the bus," I knew it was wrong.

And we had quite a to-do when we first allowed blacks to vote in South Carolina under the case of Brown against Baskin. And we had a meeting of all the delegations. And some actually quit. They said they weren't going to solicit the black vote. I argued otherwise. And later on, I survived.



HANNITY: Hey, Senator, in light of what you just said, let me just do a follow-up question to that. By the way, it's your favorite conservative, Sean Hannity. And welcome to the show.

But in light of that, a serious question. In light of what you're just admitting to, what you're saying, in light of the fact that, you know, Senator Robert Byrd had a former association with the Ku Klux Klan. And, yet, he became the leader for the Democrats in the United States Senate.

And yet Trent Lott says a few nice things about Strom Thurman on his 100th birthday and look what happened to Trent Lott? Do you think there's a double standard with Republicans and Democrats on this issue?

HOLLINGS: Well, everybody is all wrapped up tight, particularly you folks in the media.

HANNITY: You folks?

HOLLINGS: I mean, give me a break. Trent Lott was a bum rap. I mean, he was just trying to make a senator, a senior senator, an old senator, feel good. And that's all he was saying. And then it was racial.

And, for example, I was amazed when my friend, President Bill Clinton, said after the defeat, Hillary's defeat there in South Carolina that next morning. He said, "Well, after all, Jesse Jackson carried it in 1988. But Obama ran a good race." I said what's racist about it? That's the fact. I voted for Jesse Jackson in 1988.

I finally saw in the London Economist that said the only logic was that a black couldn't win. A black just won in South Carolina overwhelmingly. Everybody in South Carolina thought they were voting for Obama.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this.

HOLLINGS: The racism is on -- in the media's part. Give me a break. I'm glad you asked the question.

HANNITY: All right. To follow up on something Alan said, and you said this more specifically about George Bush being the perpetual candidate and that that's the state of politics today and that it's hurting politics.

And you spoke specifically about the issue of Iraq and, quote, "They have no idea how to put a team on the field to win."

And then you said the following. You said, "Obviously, I was misled by our commander in chief. I didn't make a mistake. I cast the right vote in light of the president's description of the threat facing us." You assume responsibility.

Here's my question for you, because Bill Clinton made the exact same arguments in 1998. And you didn't bring that up. And my question to you is this. Did you read the National Intelligence Estimate yourself? Did you do your own homework or did you just listen to what other people were saying?

HOLLINGS: You're -- you're really reasoned around a lot of the facts. The fact is that Bill Clinton did say that in 1998, and we responded and passed a unanimous resolution in the United States Senate with Teddy Kennedy and Bob Byrd voting for it, because it said under no circumstance it authorized military action.

HANNITY: But wait. December 19 -- December 1998, he said the same thing.

HOLLINGS: ... sanction. That is in 1998. Now, wait a minute. On October the 7th, 2001, he said -- it was in 2001 out in Cincinnati, he said facing clear elements of peril. We cannot wait until the smoking gun is a mushroom cloud.

HANNITY: All right. We're running out of time. One last question.

HOLLINGS: Any time the commander in chief says that, he's got my support, whether he's Republican, Democrat, or libertarian.

HANNITY: Do you agree with Harry Reid in his characterization the war is lost? And I ask you once again, did you read the National Intelligence Estimate?

HOLLINGS: Bologna with the National Intelligence Estimate. I've been on the Hoover Commission investigating that intelligence. I know it from A to Z. And I can tell you now only the president gets actionable or the real intelligence.

HANNITY: So you didn't read it?

HOLLINGS: If they knew where Saddam was they -- I read it, but it's not conclusive. I can tell you that right now.

COLMES: Supporting the president, left, right, or in the middle. Senator, let's not wait so long before your next appearance on "Hannity & Colmes," sir.

HANNITY: Thank you, Senator.

HOLLINGS: What's that?

HANNITY: Thank you for being with us.

COLMES: I hope you come back soon. Come back and see us. Thanks you very much, sir.

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