Biggest Campaign Trail Blunders

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 11, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS: See, Barack's been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based. I want to cut his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off.

Barack's talking down to black people.


ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: That was Jesse Jackson's controversial comments about Barack Obama. Here to analyze those remarks and other recent political blunders, pollster Frank Luntz.

And you know, we said earlier, Frank, the suggestion some are saying that - - your post today, for example, this was a setup, Jackson did this on purpose. I don't see it that way. Do you?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: I don't see it as a setup. Let me set the context.

Video: Watch the campaign trail blunders


LUNTZ: There was a contest in the early 1960s, Fran Drescher, the actress, told me the story today, and I think it's appropriate. A contest to tell a story and you had only six words.

There's Earnest Hemmingway who won that contest. Six words to tell a whole story. "On sale baby shoes never worn." In those six words it tells so much.

In Jackson's one word that he used there it tells you where he stands on Barack Obama, and it tells you the challenges that the Obama campaign faces. Even though you had to bleep that word, he knew exactly what he was doing.

This man ran for president, he's been in the public eye for over three decades, four decades. He knew what he was saying.

COLMES: Why is that a challenge for the Obama campaign and not more of a challenge for Jesse Jackson? In fact, can it in an odd way help the Obama campaign among those who don't particularly favor Jesse Jackson?

LUNTZ: Because it also — because it draws attention by someone who's supporting Obama, at least publicly, that there are issues, and it's a — he's a controversial figure, he's a very articulate figure, but whenever Jackson gets involved in any Democratic campaign, Jewish voters get concerned.

Certain moderate voters that might consider voting for Obama get concerned. It's not the kind of individual that you want commentating on Barack Obama.

COLMES: He's not involved in the campaign.

LUNTZ: And I'm surprised, by the way — I would think that Jackson should not appear on behalf of Obama. If I'm Barack Obama I would asked the Reverend Jackson, please, for the next four months, take a vacation.

COLMES: I'm not sure he is, though, Frank. I'm not sure he is an Obama surrogate or speaking on behalf of Obama. In fact, they have great differences.

The difference expressed here is that Jackson was upset with Obama's rather conservative position that families need to take personal responsibility, and Jackson would have preferred that Obama go after leadership. That was the whole issue.

LUNTZ: Yes, except that the American people would actually agree with Barack Obama on that position, and I know that it's one of the reasons why Obama does attract some support from not just the black community, but from the white community.

HANNITY: Hey, Frank, I want to go to my favorite piece of tape of the week, Barack Obama arrogantly, in a pretty condescending way— I call it the merci beaucoup tape.

Let's roll it.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's embarrassing — it's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German, and then we go over to Europe, and all we can say is merci beaucoup.


SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: I can tell you from my radio show it's not received very well, Frank. Your thoughts.

LUNTZ: I remember when Michael Moore was in London, and he referred to Americans as stupid people, and it turned an entire nation — up to that point people were listening to the director. After that point they wanted nothing to do with him.

We don't like our politicians insulting us. And what I would say about Americans is that he's got a point. That would be great if we knew more languages.

Let me tell you something, Sean. The American people have made more tremendous advances in terms of science, technology, engineering, pharmaceuticals. We may not be able to speak four languages, but man, we've had such a positive impact on this globe, and I would say the voters would not like to hear that from Barack Obama.

HANNITY: You know they may not like the fact that we are a country of English only for the most part, although there's plenty of exceptions, but America has shown its courage and its dedication and its sacrifice for the people of Europe, and the fact that maybe we don't speak certain languages, frankly, is insignificant.

And I think it just shows — it reminds me of what he said to San Francisco to his millionaire friends that — you know those bitter Americans clinging to their guns. I think this is going to hurt him. Maybe we need the Obama passport Newt was saying today.

LUNTZ: Sean, there's a simple line here. And I'm not the one who invented it.


LUNTZ: If it wasn't for us, the French would be speaking German right now.

HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you about Phil Gramm, very quickly, and his comments.

Maybe not. Do we have it?



PHIL GRAMM, MCCAIN ECONOMIC ADVISOR: You just hear this constant whining, complaining about the loss of our competitiveness. America (INAUDIBLE). We've sort of become a nation of whiners.


HANNITY: Become a nation of whiners. What do you think?

LUNTZ: The American people are nervous, they are afraid, and the first rule of politics is empathize. If you don't understand the fear that people have, the concerns that they have, you really shouldn't be speaking in public, and while he may be technically — he's got a point, Sean, he does, but from a political standpoint, it was about the worst thing that he could say because no voter wants to hear if they're nervous about paying their housing payment, if they're nervous about their job, gas prices are skyrocketing, we have something to complain about today.

HANNITY: I agree with that. I take it — and maybe I took it differently than everyone else, and that is there are far too many Americans that are relying on the government to solve every problem they have, and in that context, I think we're losing our liberties and losing our freedoms and giving into our fears and we're offered, you know, false promises by politicians who want power.

That's my take on it. Is that — but he didn't express it well.

LUNTZ: He didn't express — and the public does believe, Sean, that Washington has failed them, Republicans and Democrats alike, but they do believe that there are problems out there in the economy that they expect someone to step up to the plate and give them some answers.

HANNITY: Frank Luntz, thanks for being with us, my friend.

LUNTZ: thank you. Pleasure.

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