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Hoekstra Leading Pack of Challengers in Michigan Gubernatorial Race

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 8, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The Conservative Victory Tour continues tonight from Schuler Bookstore in Grand Rapids. We are in beautiful Michigan where conservatives have gathered to tell the Obama administration that enough is enough. Our cross-country tour coincides with the release of my first book in six years, it's called "Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama's Radical Agenda" which we now have found out will debut much to the chagrin of The New York Times number one on their best seller list this week. Thank you very much. And that is thanks to all of you.

Now, Michigan is just one state that the radical liberal agenda has harmed. Now, Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm's 38 percent approval rating is one of the lowest in the entire country. Meanwhile, the state's unemployment rate is the nation's highest, 14.1 percent. A change may be just around the corner. Granholm's hand picked successor and that is the Lt. Governor John Cherry dropped out of the race, because he couldn't raise enough money, but things on the Republican side look much brighter.

Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra is leading the pack and running ahead of all of his potential Democratic challengers. Real Clear Politics has been polling 10 points head of Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon and an EPIC-MRA poll has him topping Lansing mayor, Virg Bernero, by 13.

So, things may be changing soon here in the great state of Michigan, and joining me now with his stake on how to revive the state is the man himself, Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Congressman, how are you? Good to see you.

REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, R-MICH.: How are you doing? Doing just great. Good to be with you, Sean.

HANNITY: You have a lot of fans here.

HOEKSTRA: Absolutely. Welcome to Grand Rapids.

HANNITY: It's great to be on Grand Rapids. You know, Grand Rapids is doing a lot better than the rest of Michigan. Fourteen point one percent. That doesn't include the underemployed. That doesn't include the people that have stopped looking for work. How bad is it here?

HOEKSTRA: It's really ugly. You go around this state, and I'm doing 100 different jobs across the state. I'm at about 30, and yesterday, I was in a dental clinic offering free dental care to people who are indigent.

HANNITY: You're a dentist?

HOEKSTRA: I'm not a dentist, but I did develop some x-rays yesterday, and I provided some expert critique on, you know, where I thought the drilling should go and those kinds of things, but it's hard. You got people there who want to work. They want government to get out of the way. And what we have in this state is we've got a governor who has put government in between opportunity and people.

HANNITY: I want to create an analogy between what has been done in the great state of Michigan and what the president is doing because a lot of similarities. Last time I was in Detroit, you think of Motor City, you think of GM, you think of the automobile industry. The city was decimated. They are selling homes now; there was one report for $100 in Detroit. They're talking about bulldozing entire neighborhoods.

HOEKSTRA: Thirty thousand homes.

HANNITY: Thirty thousand homes, because the population is left, because they can't get jobs. What exactly went wrong? Is this what happens when you put liberal politics, bad union politics together? Is this the same thing that's happening in Washington?

HOEKSTRA: What happened in Michigan is you get government in the way. Government is being a barrier between people and opportunity. What does that mean? It means that all across the state, there are people who want to invest in the state. They want to create jobs in the state. We've made it hard to do business. You can't transfer liquor license. You can't expand your business. You can't put in a truck well. It requires months and months of permitting. Excessive costs, we got a bloated bureaucracy in the state that costs the state too much money. All these people around us, they're paying for it, and then we have a tax code which penalizes investment, which penalizes job creation. It makes it expensive to do business here.

HANNITY: When Granholm raised taxes, when was that about? Two and a half, three years ago? Two years ago? You all remember. Remember, she promised revenues to the government going to go up. Revenues to government plummeted.

HOEKSTRA: They plummeted. Here's her work of art. Michigan Business Tax. Right there. Take a look at it because it's gone away, all right. This is going away.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HOEKSTRA: If we get government out of the way, we will make Michigan a magnet for investment. We've got all kinds of resources, all kinds of skills that we can build a new Michigan off of. And we just need to get this kind of stuff off of the tax, off of the books.

HANNITY: All right. So, let's talk about the similarities, Fourteen point one percent unemployment here. We see unemployment around the country is 9.7 percent. Even we got a jobs report today, we lost more jobs at a time when the government is hiring a million census workers. And I guess, if you add health care to the mix, if you add the stimulus to the mix, if the president — record deficits, should America prepare itself for what has happened in the great state of Michigan? Is this now a preview of coming attractions around the country?

HOEKSTRA: Absolutely. Jennifer Granholm was Barack Obama. Before Barack Obama was Barack Obama. Okay.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HOEKSTRA: I always thought — we always thought that Jennifer Granholm was sitting next to the president at the economic summit so that he could turn to her and say, now governor, did we try that or did you try that in Michigan? And if she said yes, he would say okay we ain't doing that on a national basis.

HANNITY: But we're doing it.

HOEKSTRA: But we're doing it. We're doing exactly the same things. You know, cap-and-trade increasing rules and regulations, making it more difficult for Americans to aspire to their dreams. You know, we're increasing taxes with health care. We're making government bigger. You know, we're doing on a national scene exactly what Michigan has been doing for the last eight years. It's why your tour is so great, we need to stop it. The rest of country will look like Michigan.

HANNITY: I am convinced that this president with Nancy Pelosi, this government, I'll even call it this regime, ladies and gentlemen, thank you. I think they're so detrimental. If we don't kick them out, Pelosi, Reid, Obama and fire them, there will be irreparable damage to the country, because their policies are so radical and so out of step. And I think the answer is very simple. I think you got it. You cut taxes, you pull your belt tight. There's not a person in this audience that if they don't hit tough economic times, they find ways to bring in more revenue and spend less money. Why can't the government do that simple thing?

HOEKSTRA: Sean, in this state, this fall state employs are going to be getting a three percent pay increase. They are now becoming an elite workforce in our state. Working for the government needs to be a good job, but it can't be the best job. No one else in Michigan is getting a raise.

HANNITY: Hey, listen, if you work for the government then more people per capita, per percentage, that make six figure salaries in government than in the private sector. All right. I have to ask you before you go —

HOEKSTRA: Yes.

HANNITY: I got to talk a little bit about Iran now, we have Ahmadinejad, who referred to Barack Obama as an inexperienced amateur. I might actually agree with him on that.

(LAUGHING)

HANNITY: He says Iran will strike the United States. If a foreign country hits America with a chemical attack, a biological attack or some type of crippling cyber attack, President Obama has taken our nuclear option off the table. You work in Homeland Security, how dangerous is that philosophy?

HOEKSTRA: It's a dangerous philosophy. I think the most dangerous thing is, this is what he's saying, but you know, Ahmadinejad is saying this, because he's seen the president at work for the last 14 months. You know, he's saying one thing after another as to what we're going to do to stop proliferation in Iran. He's been coddling up to Iran. He's been moving away from the pro-democracy forces in Iran. Taking the nuclear option off the table is a terrible decision.

HANNITY: You may not like this, because I know you're running for office, and people running for office don't often want to say controversial things. I said it in my book. I want to know if you agree. You don't have to answer if you don't want to. I say Barack Obama is a socialist and I think he is a modern day appeaser. Am I right or wrong?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HOEKSTRA: If you take a look at the agenda and what he's passed and what he put his energy on, it's exactly what he has been doing, $800 million spending bill, that is socialism. That's $800 million of these folks' money, their kids' money that the president wanted to spend. Appeasement is the only way you can describe what he has done to Iran for the last 14 months.

HANNITY: It seems like he believes that we can have peace in our time if only we coddle up to dictators and then we alienate, you know, allies like Israel.

HOEKSTRA: We alienate our friends.

HANNITY: One of your opponents, I won't tell you which one, called me before the program today, and said, you got to ask Pete Hoekstra if he will sign Grover Norquist's pledge not to raise taxes?

HOEKSTRA: I pledge that taxes will be lower. I'll give you great example. Do you think that the earned income tax —

HANNITY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

HOEKSTRA: I mean, the earned income tax credit, is that a good program in Washington? It is a terrible failed program. We have that in Michigan. If I move to — if I take leadership action to remove the earned income tax credit, under Grover Norquist's plan, I'm for raising taxes.

HANNITY: If you remove that.

HOEKSTRA: If I get rid of the earned income tax credit —

HANNITY: Why don't you — listen, I know Grover pretty well. Why don't you go to Grover and say, hey, Grover, if we word it this way, I will take your pledge. Would you do that —

HOEKSTRA: Absolutely. I could guarantee to people in this room that in four years that I'm governor, the tax burden in this state will be lower, and the state government will be smaller than what it is today, absolutely.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HANNITY: Congessman, thank you.

HOEKSTRA: Alright. Thank you.

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