Red, White and Blue? Did Obama's Response to Patriotism Attacks Silence Critics? L.A.'s Mayor Weighs In

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 1, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At certain times over the last 16 months I've found for the first time my patriotism challenged. At times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears and doubts about who I am and what I stand for.

So let me say this at the outset of my remarks. I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign. And I will not stand idly by when I hear others questions mine.


ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: That was Barack Obama earlier today taking a stand against critics who have openly questioned his patriotism. With us now Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Mr. Mayor, welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." How you doing?


Click here to watch Alan and Rich's interview with Mayor Villaraigosa

COLMES: Good to see you. You know, as Dick Morris was saying, he thinks they ought to be able to go after Obama on the issues, but they're afraid to do that because if they really went after him on the issues, they'd loose, on the economy, Bush III, Iraq war, Bush III, which is why they're taking the tack they're taking, and that's not really flying either.

VILLARAIGOSA: I think you're right. I think people are tired of the politics of personal destruction, where you denigrate a person's candidacy by saying they're un-American or not patriotic or questioning the military service, for instance, of Senator McCain.

They want both candidates to talk about the issues. They want their surrogates to focus on what really matters to the American people, and as you said, that's the economy, that's the war, that's health care, that's the environment, and a number of other issues.

COLMES: Do you really believe his military service was questioned? Because I don't see it that way. I think the point that Wesley Clark made, perhaps a bit inartfully, was because you have a horrible, tragic event in a war and you're a POW, that in and of itself, doesn't mean you'd be a proper executive to run the United States.

VILLARAIGOSA: I think what's important is that Senator Obama has distanced himself from those remarks. I think we want to focus not on Senator McCain's military service, but his record as a leader in the Senate. We want to focus on his -- on what he proposes to do in the future.

Both candidates are patriots. Both care passionately about this great America we live in.

COLMES: You've been a Clinton supporter. Now, of course, people like you and me -- you supported Hillary Clinton -- realized on the issues, we're much closer to Barack Obama than John McCain, obviously. Does he, as Dick Morris suggests, need to reach out, for example, not just to the Hillary voters, but to the Hispanic community and put someone like Bill Richardson on the ticket.

VILLARAIGOSA: You know I saw a University of Washington poll, a Gallup poll, and I think an NBC poll, all of which have Senator Obama up by 35 points over Senator McCain.

The fact of the matter is the people who voted for Senator Clinton voted for her because of their relationship over a ten-year period of time, at least since the mid-1990s. They didn't vote against Senator Obama. Now, because he is right on the issues with Hispanics, you're seeing the overwhelming majority supporting Senator Obama in this campaign.



LOWRY: Hey, Mr. Mayor, Rich Lowry. Thanks so much for being with us.

VILLARAIGOSA: Hi, Rich. How are you?

LOWRY: Good. Thanks so much. Let me get back to Obama's speech today. I thought it was a very nice speech. There are a couple things that jumped out at me, though.

One was he made an oblique condemnation of, if you remember that ad they ran attacking General Petraeus as General "Betray-Us" what he testified last year. What I thought was interesting is when that controversy was hot, when that ad came out, there was a vote in the Senate, and this was during the Democratic primaries, when Barack Obama was pandering to the left wing of the party, and Barack Obama did not vote to condemn that ad.

So to me it was just another instance where in the primaries he did what he had to do to pander to the left, and now he's moving to the center. Is that really the new politics?

VILLARAIGOSA: I think what both candidates want to do is speak to America -- center. They want to do that because both parties are trying to claim the center. And that's not something new in this campaign. You've seen that in every campaign since I can remember.

LOWRY: But Barack Obama -- but Barack Obama was supposed to be the new politician. And look, he's following the old school, where he pandered to the left. Where he said he was going to vote, fillibuster immunity for the telecoms in the Senate. Well, low and behold now he supports the deal. On a whole range of issues, he was to the left during the primaries, and now he's moved to the center and totally reversed himself.

He was attacking NAFTA during the primaries. Now "well, maybe some of my rhetoric was overheated." He said he'd meet with Ahmadinejad without conditions. Well, now that's kind of out the window. I mean, isn't this just a typical politician playing typical political games?

VILLARAIGOSA: Absolutely not. I think, in point of fact, if you want to be -- if you want to focus on the way the candidates have moved from their position, Senator McCain has also moved from certain positions, certainly his position on comprehensive immigration reform, which he supported last year, and now he opposes.

He's also backed off from a number of other issues with respect to the war.

LOWRY: Yes, he wants to enforce the borders first, which I think most Americans would consider common sense.

COLMES: He'd never vote for McCain-Kennedy.

LOWRY: Mr. Mayor, we have to...

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, that's what he says this time around, not last year.

LOWRY: All right. I have to leave it there. We'll continue some other time. Thanks so much, Mr. Mayor, appreciate it.


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