'Country First': Mike Huckabee on McCain's New Anti-Obama Ad

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 28, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Welcome to "Hannity & Colmes." We're glad you're with us. Our good friend Susan Estrich is back and she's sitting in for the vacationing Alan Colmes tonight.

Susan, we love you. Good to see you.

SUSAN ESTRICH, GUEST HOST: Good to see you, Sean. Congratulations on everything.

HANNITY: Oh, thank you and we appreciate it.

Watch Sean Hannity and guest host Susan Estrich's interview

We get right to our "Top Story" tonight. The two campaigns are blasting away at each other over Barack Obama's aborted visit to the Landstuhl Air Force Base in Germany last week to visit American soldiers.

On Friday the Obama campaign, his chief strategist, David Axelrod, told The Chicago Sun-Times that the Pentagon, quote, "viewed this as a campaign event," and, therefore, they said he should not come.

Today Obama Communications Director Robert Gibbs clarified those comments to say that the Pentagon never actually prevented the senator from visiting the troops, but that the campaign decided not to visit because they didn't want to put our soldiers in the campaign spotlight.

In response, the McCain campaign has criticized Senator Obama, and they released this brand-new television ad:


ANNOUNCER: Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan. He hadn't been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops. And now he made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops.

Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras.

John McCain is always there for our troops.


HANNITY: Joining us now with more is former presidential candidate, FOX News contributor, Mike Huckabee.

Governor, how are you?

MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I'm doing great, Sean. Boy, a bad week for Obama. I think this was a huge gaffe, it's going to cost him, not as much now, but in the future.

HANNITY: Well, tell us why? And what do you think of the ad?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think it's good, but what I think McCain could have done last week that would have even been better is to inject some humor in this. For example, have John McCain out on a basketball court not being able to hit the goal, then show John McCain with three or four people in the room.

HANNITY: Sort of like Barack Obama bowling, you know?

HUCKABEE: Right. But show him doing things and then say, no, Senator McCain maybe doesn't play basketball as well as Barack Obama, maybe he's not drawing 200,000 Germans to hear him speak, but John McCain is working on solving America's energy crisis and getting gas below $4 a gallon, while "the Barack of Obama," as I know like to call him, is globetrotting in Europe, hob-knobbing with the finest and the elites, but not having time to visit with American soldiers.

And I think the Obama campaign is coming apart trying to somehow explain away what is an inexplicable snub of American soldiers.

HANNITY: It really is. But I call it now "the Obama media" because he has, obviously, you know, the entire media, you know, in his campaign, but Senator McCain did use some very strong language.

It seems to me that Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign. That's as hard-hitting as, I think, Senator McCain has been up to this point.

HUCKABEE: Well, that's right between the eyes. There's no doubt about it. I think that this is one of those issues that's very visceral to John McCain. He's himself a prisoner of war. He spent most of his adult like in the military. He understands what it means to be a wounded soldier and to think that somebody would, sort of, say it's on the schedule, but no, we're not going to go.


HUCKABEE: And look, they can say whatever they want to. There's no reason in the world that a United States senator would not always be welcomed visiting U.S. soldiers.

HANNITY: Well, first of all, I want to talk a little bit about the polls here because there was what they were calling the "Berlin bounce," which even [pollster] Scott Rasmussen said, is now gone. It was gone in two days over the weekend here.

Our good friend, Robert Novak, by the way, who's in our thoughts and prayers today.

ESTRICH: Oh Sean, isn't that awful?

HANNITY: It was. And we're hoping he recovers very quickly, but he wrote a column before he went into the hospital, and he said Democrats are mystified at the poor poll showing of Senator Barack Obama. And he pointed out, you know, Jimmy Carter in '76 had a 33-point lead in the summer.

You know both -- if you go back -- John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis.

ESTRICH: President Dukakis!


HANNITY: Susan knows that case well!

And if you look at the latest Gallup poll among likely voters, McCain is up by four right now. I mean that is -- this has got to really sting the Obama people.

HUCKABEE: Well, I'm sure it is stinging them, and the fact is, they thought that this was going to be this wonderful bounce for them, but the truth is Americans aren't worried about the fact that they love him in Germany.

What they want to know is, will the next American president give us energy prices we can live with? Will he make us safer? Will he try to deal with this incredible tax burden -- that's killing small businesses all over America?

They know Obama has a tax plan that will pretty much gut small business in this nation, and I think they're beginning to realize that not all change is good change.

ESTRICH: Governor Huckabee, I was interested to hear you describe what John McCain should have done last week, and what he could have done, and it sounded like Mike Huckabee who was a great candidate.

But what he actually did was he was in a golf cart with 41.


ESTRICH: He went to a German restaurant that didn't go very well. He had the time at the cheese counter at the grocery store. I mean, I have to tell you, if I were John McCain I would be glad I didn't get a lot of press last week.

What is wrong with the McCain campaign?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think he missed an opportunity. Instead of having some fun with it and showing sort of a buoyant 'hey, do what you've got to do, let Obama go play basketball, I'm solving problems.' Do it with tongue and cheek.

Frankly, I thought he looked more like Bob Dole in the last days of the 1996 campaign saying 'look at the record, look at the record,' and there was some anger and sense of frustration there.

He shouldn't show that. He needs to show that nothing is getting to him, it's rolling off his back, and I think he missed an opportunity to do that last week.

ESTRICH: But what's going to change, Governor Huckabee? I mean he doesn't have -- I don't mean to flatter you, but he doesn't have your demeanor, your good humor. I mean he is not -- I was talking to a Democratic friend of mine...

HUCKABEE: Well, he may not, Susan.

ESTRICH: ... and he said he's running a terrible campaign. Can you disagree?

HUCKABEE: Well, you know, Susan, he may not, but he's the nominee, and I had to get a job with FOX, so there you go.

ESTRICH: But neither of us are making as much as Sean.

HANNITY: No, wait a minute.

ESTRICH: But we're doing fine.

HANNITY: I've been here quite a long time, Governor. I'm pretty happy to be and proud to be working at FOX so...

HUCKABEE: I am, too. Listen, I'm just glad to have a job these days.

HANNITY: Well, we're glad you're here.

ESTRICH: Let me ask you, Governor Huckabee.

HUCKABEE: All right.

ESTRICH: Who's going to be the vice presidential nominee for John McCain?

HUCKABEE: I don't know. I really don't. I think it could be, you know, anywhere from Tim Pawlenty, Charlie Crist, Tom Ridge -- I hear a lot of different people, but I really don't know, and I certainly have not been given any insight, and nobody's asked me for fingerprints.

ESTRICH: And do you have a favorite?

HUCKABEE: No, I really don't know which direction the senator wants to go in his campaign. Does he think he needs to go to these traditionally blue states and challenge Obama? That's a totally different dynamic then if he feels he's got to shore up the base and win in the south.

HANNITY: We're running out of time. Who would you pick if it was you right now?

HUCKABEE: Oh gosh, I'm not going to go there.

HANNITY: Don't duck. Come on.

ESTRICH: Come on. You just work for FOX now, you can tell us!

HANNITY: I want you to go there, Governor.

ESTRICH: You could tell us.

HANNITY: Come on, your best -- if you had to guess off the top of your head?

HUCKABEE: I'd go Pawlenty.

HANNITY: OK. There you go.

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