Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge on Biden, Albright Crisis Comments

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 21, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome to "Hannity & Colmes". Get right to our "Top Story" tonight. The McCain campaign is going after Senator Biden after he made the following comments over the weekend, saying that a President Obama will be tested by an intentionally provoked international crisis after he takes office.


JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We are about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old president of the United States of America.

Remember I said it standing here, if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we are going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. He's going to have to make some really tough — I don't know what the decisions will be — but I promise you, it will occur.

As a student of history that has served seven presidents, I guarantee you it's going to happen. I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate.


COLMES: Former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, seemed to agree with Biden's sentiment during an interview yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think about what Biden said?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it is a — it's just a statement of fact, frankly, and in my book I talk about the fact that there are a lot of big issues out there, but that also something unexpected, you always have to be prepared for that.


COLMES: And now Senator McCain has jumped in head first.


JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: America will not have a president who needs to be tested. I've been tested, my friends, and Senator Obama hasn't.

What is even more troubling or as troubling is that Senator Biden told their campaign donors that when that crisis hits, they would have to stand with them because it wouldn't be apparent that Senator Obama would have the right response.

Forget apparent. We know Senator Obama won't have the right response.


COLMES: Joining us tonight, McCain supporter, a former Pennsylvania governor, and former secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.

Governor, thanks so much for being with us tonight.

TOM RIDGE, FMR. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Alan, nice to join you and Sean.

Video: Watch Sean and Alan's interview with Tom Ridge

COLMES: Is it wrong that every — many presidents get tested? Is that not just a statement of fact?

RIDGE: Well, I think it's interesting, on this particular issue, I think Senator Biden's very consistent. Remember that he commented during the primary that he didn't think that Senator Obama was qualified or he wasn't quite ready yet for the presidency, and frankly, I don't think the rest of the world would test a president that they saw as strong and potentially responding in a way that they wouldn't care for, so I think his observation that we would be tested is consistent with his earlier observation that Senator Obama's not quite ready yet to be president.

COLMES: Well, Governor, let me show you what Joe Lieberman said on "Face the Nation," a very similar comment. Let's take a look.


SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Our enemies will test the new president early. 9/11 happened in the first year of the Bush administration.


COLMES: How's that different, sir, from what Joe Biden said?

RIDGE: Well, I think the 9/11 was obviously in the works for years and years. The notion that you have a vice presidential candidate running around talking about his running mate who he'd had earlier said who is not really ready to become president will be tested is almost a forewarning and a foreshadowing of a certain weakness that, I think, is probably perceived by a lot of people around the world.

Look, this is a presidential candidate who refuses to admit that the surge worked in Iraq, who basically cautioned the small country of Georgia to show restraint after they were invaded by Russia.

I mean his foreign policy gaffes have been enormous, and we should not be surprised if he's perceived as weak, he will be tested.

COLMES: He actually said both sides to show restraint and he told Bill O'Reilly that the surge has worked but that the political reconciliation hadn't worked, and didn't Joe Lieberman say the same thing? That the new president will be tested?

RIDGE: I think the analogy, again, to 9/11 is — one off because that was not a direct test of President Bush's authority and his ability to respond, and thank goodness President Bush did respond as aggressively as he did.

This is a direct statement suggesting, I think, that if he's perceived as weak and minions, since time will tell, but the notion here that a vice president forewarning America that we're going to be tested in the next six months, I think that's a great segue into why they ought to be voting for John McCain.

Who do you want? Someone that's been tested? Somebody that's been out there dealing with the diplomatic and international affairs? Somebody who has military experience or someone who just talks about those things?

COLMES: You mentioned Joe Biden. Are you convinced that, heaven forbids, something would happen to John McCain, if he gets elected, that Sarah Palin would be able to step in and make the right decisions? Be the right person to be commander in chief? Do you have confidence on that?

RIDGE: I have confidence in that. But it's very interesting segue. We're talking about who's going to be the president of the United States on January 20th, and obviously people are looking at credentials to be the commander in chief.

There's clearly really no comparison. You know — clearly John McCain has the support, frankly, if you asked probably the troops in the field who they'd want to have as their commander in chief, it may not be unanimous, but I bet the vast majority of people would prefer someone.


RIDGE: . that's already been tested in combat.

HANNITY: Governor, it was Joe Biden who said the presidency doesn't lend itself to on-the-job training, talking about Obama.

RIDGE: Bingo.

HANNITY: Talking points on foreign policy doesn't get you there. But I want to go over these words because this is — this is chilling, what he said here, and he said mark my words, he said it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama, and then he said, look, I want you to remember one thing.

If you don't remember one other thing I said, watch, we're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy, and then he goes — and he says we're going to need your help because it's not going to be apparent initially — apparent that we're right.

Now I'm only thinking — the only reason we wouldn't think you're right — is he telegraphing he's going to wave the white flag of surrender like Obama did — had he had his way in Iraq?

RIDGE: It's amazing to me that someone who had previously said that his running mate wasn't prepared, wasn't quite ready yet to be president, may have even said he's not qualified, would then be, almost as a precursor like, say somebody may happen, and you better stick with us, we're not quite sure whether or not we'll be able to respond in an effective or aggressive way, but regardless of what happens, you've got to stick with us.

A rather interesting approach toward trying to elect a president of the United States.

America wants somebody that has been tested, who is respected by not only friends but by foe alike.


RIDGE: And a president whom the rest of the world will look at and not doubt his ability to respond in an effective and aggressive way.

HANNITY: Well, let's look.

RIDGE: If they doubt your ability, they'll test you, and I suspect they would doubt Senator Obama's ability to respond in an aggressive way.

HANNITY: Well, you know, I got to be honest. You know even Joe Biden when — for example, when Barack Obama voted to cut off funding for our troops that were fighting a war, you know, he even said if you do this, it's political, you're playing a game of chicken, and thousands of troops lives can be lost here.

This is the same Obama that said we're air-raiding villages and killing civilians, the same Obama what would meet with rouge dictators without preconditions, the same Obama that said Iran's a tiny country and not a serious threat.

Why isn't the country, according to the polls, paying more attention to these, frankly, naive, reckless, dangerous, and irresponsible positions of a guy that has literally no experience?

RIDGE: Well, I think there are probably a couple explanations, not the least of which is the pending economic crisis that we're facing, but I'd like to think Americans would appreciate the notion that you can't be prosperous unless you're secure, and you can't be secure unless you're prosperous, and if the number one responsibility of the president of the United States is to provide for the common defense, there's clearly only one candidate.


RIDGE: . in this race that has the qualifications and experiences to do that. With security will come prosperity.

HANNITY: You know, Alan mentioned the surge earlier. Barack Obama was against the surge. He said he didn't know a single expert that thought the surge would work. You know, had he had his way — you tell me if I'm characterizing this wrong — would we have lost in Iraq, would we have basically waved the white flag of surrender?

RIDGE: Well, if we would have his way, he would not have had an audience and a sit-down with al-Maliki that he — during his Baghdad tour. If we had his way he might have seen Maliki somewhere in another part of Europe, but he certainly would have not felt as comfortable walking and having that conversation in Baghdad.

HANNITY: All right.

RIDGE: If we'd to have his way.

HANNITY: Last question.

RIDGE: . that photo-op wouldn't have occurred.

HANNITY: Last question. The comment that he made in San Francisco about bitter Americans clinging to their guns and religion — by the way, John Murtha has called people in Pennsylvania racist and red neck.

What is the reaction of the people in Pennsylvania going to be to all these comments?

RIDGE: Well, I think on a personal level, they were surprised that — at both comments, but I think they're very dismissive of that psychobabble that they heard from Senator Obama. He tells them one thing in Pennsylvania, goes out to the west coast.

People in Pennsylvania understand that the bill of rights that reached back — they have been going to church and appreciating the right to bear arms since 1789. It's not a new phenomenon. Good times and bad, that we worship God and we appreciate and respect our ability to own firearms.

HANNITY: And I don't think we're bitter clinging to our guns and religion.

RIDGE: Yes, I don't.

HANNITY: If so, I'm guilty.

RIDGE: We've been doing it since 1789.

HANNITY: I pray to God and I believe in the right to bear arms.

Anyway, Governor, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

COLMES: Not on the set, all right?

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