Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson on Second Presidential Debate

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 7, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And welcome to a special edition of "Hannity & Colmes". We are coming to you live from the spin room at Belmont University. We're in Nashville, Tennessee, home of the second presidential debate, which you saw right here on the FOX News Channel.

And remember, by the way, we want to know who you think won the debate. And you can text your vote at 36288, now press A for Senator McCain, B for Barack Obama, and C if you're one of those few undecided. And we're going to reveal the results in just about 10 minutes from right now right here on "Hannity & Colmes".

Joining us now, former senator and presidential candidate, our good friend, Fred Thompson.

Senator, how are you? Good to see you.


Video: Watch Sean and Alan's interview with Fred Thompson

HANNITY: All right, overall, in my mind, it's pretty much a repeat of the first debate. Barack Obama is going to raise taxes, John McCain will cut them. Very different views on the war. It seems...


HANNITY: ... very similar...

THOMPSON: Well, I thought the format played to John's favor a little bit.


THOMPSON: I think John is more comfortable when he can walk around a little bit and speak directly to a real person.


THOMPSON: And instead of a moderator. And I think that showed tonight. He came out stronger tonight.


THOMPSON: Last time, you remember, he got off a little slow, he came out stronger tonight than I've ever seen him come out and I was sitting there, thinking — well, a lot of people have known him probably thinking, and that is just when it looks like things are turning against John...


THOMPSON: ... he doubles down the effort. I mean he gets tough and — he will not be defeated.

HANNITY: I agree with you.

THOMPSON: And he's strong. How many times has he done that in his life? I was very, very proud of him tonight.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this, because, I guess, what a lot of our viewers are waiting for, considering what happened in the last couple of days. I mean we had Governor Palin, in the last debate, bring up the issue of, you know, Barack Obama saying about our brave men and women that they were air- raiding villages, killing civilians, you know, saying that — in the last debate, you know, and since then, that, you know, Barack Obama's friends with, you know, an unrepentant terrorist.

I think a lot of people in American were waiting for that to come up tonight. It didn't come up. Why do you think that is? Is it the format that prevented it?

THOMPSON: Well, I think it's the format, plus, you know, you have kind of an intimate — setting there with civilians or real people.

HANNITY: It's real people.

THOMPSON: Around you. I like to keep beating on that.


THOMPSON: But it doesn't lend itself to that so much. There was some good back and forth. And they got to say their piece about what they thought about what the other guy was saying about their record. So, you know, there's different forms for different things.

HANNITY: There are two things, I thought, were the most effective for John McCain. The presidency does not lend itself on-the-job training. Joe Biden had actually said that about Barack Obama.


HANNITY: And he looked him in the eye and he said that you raise taxes 94 times you know, when you had an opportunity. For all of this talk and all the speeches that he reads off the teleprompter, the voting record is quite different from what he is actually saying.


HANNITY: You know? Does that get penetrate? Does that get through?

THOMPSON: Yes, I think tonight more than ever, the differences — the basic differences of McCain were clear. And that is, you have a young fellow who is relatively inexperienced with...

HANNITY: Relatively?

THOMPSON: A liberal — I'm being generous tonight. I'm feeling good. I'm here at Belmont. What a great night for Belmont.

HANNITY: That's true.

THOMPSON: And national...

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: He's happy to be with me.

THOMPSON: I'm loving Alan, but he's got a long face. I love it.


COLMES: That's genetic, though. It's not because of what happened tonight.

THOMPSON: But — his liberalism came out in terms of issues of taxing and spending. And John's record came out in terms of...

HANNITY: And he did — look, for all of the talk, I mean, Barack Obama's record is not only raising taxes on people making $42,000, not only raising it 94 times, you know. His earmarks, you know, $1 million a day as a senator. I mean it's pretty profound...

THOMPSON: Well, your record is more important than your rhetoric. Bill Clinton campaigned on the middle class tax cut. He said he would only tax those making over $200,000 a year. What did we get? He had a Democratic Congress, which might happen again this time if Barack is president.

You'd have him unchecked, perhaps, with a Democratic Congress. And you're saying now that he wants to raise it to $250,000, the middle class tax cuts.

HANNITY: But what...

THOMPSON: Do you think that he — the basic question is, do you think Barack Obama, with a Democratic Congress, would be restrained when he wants to spend about $850 billion on his new programs?

HANNITY: Not based on his record.

THOMPSON: No, of course not.

HANNITY: Not based on his record.

THOMPSON: Of course not.

COLMES: By the way...

THOMPSON: Do you agree?

COLMES: If you were speaking, I probably did not agree, Senator.

Anyway, welcome to Tennessee.


THOMPSON: It's good to be — it's good to be here, Alan.

COLMES: It's a beautiful state. Thanks for coming on.

Look, I keep hearing you saying that he wanted to — raise taxes, voted 94 times. That's been debunked. Most of those times were either multiple votes, a number of times he didn't vote to raise taxes. Some of them are resolutions that were non binding. He didn't raise bad taxes 94 times.

THOMPSON: How do you think he learned — he earned the National Journal's rating as the most liberal senator in the Senate?

COLMES: The National Journal cherry picked 99 — let me answer you. Since you're answering the questions...



COLMES: He — that was a cherry pick by the National Journal, 99 specific votes.

THOMPSON: Seriously?

COLMES: And a number of other groups that have said — actually he was the 27th most liberal, not the first most liberal, according to a...

THOMPSON: Could you give me a couple of those?

COLMES: 2007 — there was a progressive punch, for example.

THOMPSON: Progressive...

COLMES: You can laugh all you want. You can laugh all you want.


COLMES: The National Journal is one group that did 99...

HANNITY: They're objective.

COLMES: But the fact of the matter is, he didn't vote 94 times. Also, do you think it's appropriate, we keep hearing this Bill Ayers stuff and he talked about civilian casualties? By the way, John McCain, during Kosovo, said we had civilian casualties. We had troops that were killing civilians in Kosovo, he said, in 2000.

Do you honestly think Barack Obama doesn't care for and respect the troops?

THOMPSON: Well, you came up with a bunch of things there. I'm not sure how Bill Ayers relates to that. All I know is that Bill Ayers kind of gave him a start in politics. He had a function for him, you know, when — kind of his kickoff in politics.

COLMES: Is that relevant to the campaign and should that have come up tonight?

THOMPSON: It has to do with the choices that a person makes and it has to do with Obama's tolerance level for radicals. You said...

COLMES: Tolerance level for radicals?

THOMPSON: Yes. Father Pfleger, Reverend Wright.

COLMES: He has nothing to do with Pfleger.

THOMPSON: Or Jim Ayers.

COLMES: He's left to right.

THOMPSON: All of those people are — they basically, you know, spew hatred and that's how American rhetoric...

COLMES: But Senator...

THOMPSON: And — he does not disavow them until it's politically required for him to do so.

COLMES: But Senator, they have tried to throw the stuff at Barack Obama. They did it during the primaries. It come up from month after month.

THOMPSON: Well, I didn't bring it up. You brought it up. And since...

COLMES: Well, Sean asked you whether that was — should have been the tenor of this debate and whether those things should have come up. They didn't come up. Do you think it would have been appropriate to bring those things up in this particular format tonight?

THOMPSON: Yes, it's relevant. Yes, I think it's relevant.


COLMES: But that didn't work...

THOMPSON: The question was not asked. If it had been asked it would have been appropriate.

COLMES: It didn't work during the primaries. I mean they hurled this stuff at Barack Obama and hasn't worked in the last couple of weeks...

THOMPSON: Well, we don't know.

COLMES: ... that Sarah Palin bring it up.

THOMPSON: We don't know what worked and didn't work.

COLMES: Well, he won the nomination.

THOMPSON: Hillary Clinton was pretty tough on him in the last few weeks. And Obama kept slipping in the polls right up until very late in the process. So you never what works or what doesn't work. That's a — the practical part, I will leave to those running the campaign.

COLMES: All right, Senator.

THOMPSON: But whether it's relevant or not is a clear question. It has to do with his judgment, it has to do with his tolerance level for — if nothing else, radical rhetoric.

COLMES: But that stuff, calling him radical...

THOMPSON: In his friendships and associates.

COLMES: ... and try to associate him has not changed the momentum he has in this campaign. Hasn't it?

HANNITY: It's just getting started.

COLMES: Getting started? We've been talking about that for months.

HANNITY: No, no. The New York Times wrote about it for the first time Saturday.

COLMES: And the New York Times, by the way, said he did not have a substantial relationship with Bill Ayers.

HANNITY: They were running cover for him.

COLMES: They wrote about it.

THOMPSON: Yes. We...

COLMES: (INAUDIBLE) writing about it. What they said was he didn't have a substantial relationship...

HANNITY: By the way, I call it the "New York Obama Times."

COLMES: He didn't have substantial relationship with him.

Anyway, Senator, thank you very much.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

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