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Hannity

Congressional Reaction to State of the Union

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, January 20, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: I'm Sean Hannity, reporting from Washington, D.C., tonight.

Did the president rally support from both sides of the aisle in Congress with tonight's State of the Union address?

And let's find out from two people who were on hand for the president's speech. Joining us is Ohio Congressman Rob Portman and also joining us Florida Congressman Peter Deutsch.

Peter, good to see you again. It's been a long time. You doing OK?

I just want to know if you stood when the president said the world is better off than with Saddam Hussein. I know you stood and I know you clapped, right?

REP. PETER DEUTSCH (D), FLORIDA: That's correct.

HANNITY: I'm just checking.

Why -- with the exception of Joe Lieberman, though, your presidential candidates would not have engaged in the battles the president has taken to Iraq. And I think this is going to be the single defining campaign issue and election issue in 2004.

DEUTSCH: Sean, you've got to recheck your facts. Senator Kerry voted for use of force.

HANNITY: But against the $87 billion. I understand everybody's votes. But if you've been listening to the criticism, they would have done it, "with the support of the president."

DEUTSCH: Sean, I think you would have voted against the $87 billion, particularly the $27 billion.

HANNITY: No. No. No.

DEUTSCH: And in fact, in the House if the vote was separated, which a lot of Republicans wanted, the majority of Republicans would have voted against the $27 billion in aid to Iraq. That's not very -- the president...

HANNITY: It's a cute answer, but my point is they would not have taken the action without either bowing before the altar of the United Nations. And the president I thought had a good line about that, the United States will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people.

There are defining differences between the two parties, no?

DEUTSCH: Sean, let's be real. The -- his statement about internationalization of Iraq, you know, tell that to the 502 American families who have lost a loved one, the thousands of Americans who've lost -- who've had casualties for loved ones.

You know, we're bearing all the military costs and all the financial costs. That's why most Republicans, given the opportunity, would have voted against that $27 billion in direct aid to Iraq.

HANNITY: Was it a mistake or not? Was it a mistake what the president did or not?

DEUTSCH: You know, again, the use of force, the authorization was absolutely correct, but the president made some fundamental mistakes, all right, that -- in terms of really having a plan for the post active military engagement. Obviously, he doesn't look at what's going on now.

And the truth is he never made the effort to make this a multilateral effort. NATO offered to make it multilateral.

HANNITY: Bob -- let me go to Bob Portman.

Bob, this is the argument we hear from Democrats like Peter Deutsch here, but yet we had 12 years, 17 resolutions. Final resolution 1441. And they're still trying to make the case, even though we had, what, a coalition of 60 nations, it was unilateral.

I contend that if the Democrats had their way, they never would have taken this action, which will be one of the defining issues in this campaign.

REP. ROB PORTMAN (R) OHIO: Sean, you're absolutely right. And I think the president did a great job tonight of laying it out very clearly.

This is international, it has been from the start. And it's been a tremendous success.

Yes, there have been sacrifices, but the sacrifices have been for a purpose. Not just the freedom of 25 million people as the president talked about, but also the consequences that go well beyond the borders of Iraq.

And I thought it was great that he talked about Libya. He probably could have talked about Iran and Syria and what North Korea is even doing, reaching out and saying, "Gee, if you don't take us on, we're willing to stop our program, too."

It's by showing that use of force, as the president said, showing resolve, standing up for what we believe in. The world matters. And we're going to see change in the landscape all over the world. That's what he needed to say, and I'm glad he said it.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Congressman Portman, it's Alan Colmes in New York. Thank you for being with us.

PORTMAN: How are you? Nice to have you around.

COLMES: I played a little clip from last year's -- thank you, sir.

I played a little clip from last year's State of the Union address. We talked about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.

And today he said, in tonight's address he mentioned the Kay report having identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction related program activities. That's a little different than the actual weapons of mass destruction when David Kay especially didn't come up with any.

And so is it a little disingenuous to say one thing last year and this year add a few extra words that totally changes the meaning that he gave as the reason to go to war in the first place?

PORTMAN: Well, again, I'm glad the president addressed it, Alan, because he was absolutely accurate this year as he was last year.

I mean, let's face it, the Germans, the French, certainly the United Nations inspectors, all of us thought the same thing. It's not that we disagreed on the facts. We all thought that there were weapons of mass destruction there, chemical, biological, and a nuclear program that was being worked on. What David Kay found out is yes, there were programs. And that's what the president said...

COLMES: Programs are not weapons, sir. They are two different things.

Let me go to Congressman...

PORTMAN: I couldn't agree with you more. But what the president said was accurate last year and accurate this year.

COLMES: Congressman Deutsch, how do you disabuse people of the notion, as Newt Gingrich said earlier, that Democrats want to forget September 11. Newt Gingrich also said earlier tonight Democrats want to cut, run, and hide.

And that is the impression, unfortunately, of our party. What do we have to do to disabuse people of those notions?

DEUTSCH: Well, first let me just say. I think unfortunately, what the president has done specifically by not making the administration and occupation of Iraq multilateral has made the world a less safe place.

Just because he says it's international doesn't make it international. Let's look at the facts.

I mean, we are bearing effectively all of the costs in terms of casualties. You know, Australia has not suffered casualties. Spain, as far as I'm aware, has not suffered casualties.

I mean, it is a joke. It is disingenuous to those families who have suffered losses...

COLMES: Please remember that I asked you about the misconception that is out there about the Democratic Party.

DEUTSCH: I think what we need to explain to people is, in fact, the world is a less safe place because of many things this president has done.

The president's love affair with Saudi Arabia -- you know, the Saudis are funding 50 percent of the terrorism in the world, and the president views them as our allies. If terrorism is the biggest problem, then Saudi Arabia is our enemy, not our friend. And the president by his attitude toward Saudi Arabia, you know, makes the world a more dangerous place.

HANNITY: Are you suggesting we declare war on Saudi Arabia, Congressman?

DEUTSCH: I'm not suggesting that, but I think we ought to be talking about regime change in Saudi Arabia. The long list of things that he talked about Saddam Hussein includes the House of Salud.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BUSH: As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the enemies of freedom will do all in their power to spread violence and fear. They are trying to shake the will of our country and our friends, but the United States of America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLMES: Congressman Portman, I want to move on beyond the issue of Iraq and talk about some of the other things the president said tonight. He said he would send you, the Congress, a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland, meets domestic needs, limits the growth and discretionary spending to less than four percent. And then he said he would cut the deficit in half in four years.

How would he do that? Given all the spending he talked about in last year's speech, in this speech, and a few words preceding that statement, how is he going to do that?

PORTMAN: Well, it can happen easily if we keep domestic spending -- what he called discretionary spending tonight at four percent. That would include defense spending, homeland security, and what's called domestic discretionary spending.

We haven't done that, we haven't done it through -- not in the Clinton years when we had more than 15 percent spending in that category. Even in the last couple years, we haven't been able to do that with the war on terror.

So at four percent, assuming the economy will grow at about 3.5 percent, which is probably conservative, at least over the next couple of years, we will be able to cut the deficit, actually, more than in half in the next five years.

COLMES: By keeping the homeland security expenses down at a time when we need to pay for first responders?

PORTMAN: No, no. No. I think what the president said clearly tonight, to me, anyway, and I'm on the budget committee and I'm going to work through some of these issues.

Is he said, "Look, I've got certain priorities." One is being sure our workers are trained for the 21st Century. One is being sure that the uninsured have the ability to pay for their own health care.

But even within that context and defending the homeland and making our defense as good as it can be, we will are able to get to this four percent number. That means he's going to have to make some tough decisions. And I'm glad to hear it, and Congress is going to make some tough decisions.

COLMES: Congressman Deutsch, you talk about new job grants for -- grants, I should say, for community college, health care money, already $400 billion there, drug testing in schools, money for that, doubling spending on abstinence programs, a prisoner re-entry initiative, and then cutting the deficit in half at the same time?

DEUTSCH: You know what? If three years ago, before this president was selected, the biggest issue in front of Congress was what to do with the surplus. We now have the largest deficit in the history of the world, a growing percentage of GDP.

And as Bob well knows, the assumptions in the budget are that we're going to have better economic growth for the next 10 years than we had for the eight years in the Clinton-Gore administration. That's the bet that the Republicans in Congress and the president have made for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.

No company in America has made that bet, no individual in America has made that bet. If they're wrong, you know what's going to happen? We're going to end education funding, federal education funding. We're going to eliminate Medicaid.

You know what? If you want to live like a Republican, you better vote like a Democrat.

HANNITY: Congressman Deutsch, maybe you forgot but I'll be glad to remind you, the president did inherit that recession, No. 1. And No. 2, in case you forgot, we had the single largest attack on American soil in our history.

And that cost this country, I'll grant you, a lot of money to defend our homeland security and to find and track down the people responsible for that attack.

I don't know why I think you're a Howard Dean guy. I'm just totally guessing. Am I wrong, Congressman Deutsch?

DEUTSCH: No, I haven't endorsed anyone in the presidential race.

HANNITY: Who are you leaning toward? Who do you like?

DEUTSCHE: You know what? Any of the candidates. There's such a divergence between all of the presidential candidates in this race.

You know, the president talked about how we should be proud of what we did with the No Child Left Behind Act and the prescription drug bill and, you know, he went through a whole list of things.

You know what? The No Child Left Behind Act is just in name only. It's a sham. It doesn't fund children and education. In Florida alone over 200,000 kids aren't funded.

The prescription drug bill doesn't provide prescriptions drugs for 90 percent of seniors in America. Why does he have to keep the bill to vote open from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.? You know, why does the bill go into effect in 2006?

HANNITY: Congressman Portman, I noticed that when Bill Clinton had eight years, they didn't do these things and they are critical of a president that does, which is fascinating to me.

PORTMAN: Exactly.

DEUTSCHE: Saying it does doesn't make it happen. Since 1984 with George Orwell.

HANNITY: Congressman Portman, please.

PORTMAN: Let's go back to the facts for a second. This president is about identifying problems and presenting solutions. He did it again tonight. He did it with regard to prescription drugs. Listen, you and I have talked about this, Congress has talked about it for five years now, Bill Clinton talked about it, he could never deliver. It provides prescription drug coverage to all seniors under Medicare.

DEUTSCHE: That is not true.

PORTMAN: Yes, it does.

DEUTSCHE: If it was such a good Bill, why is it 2006?

PORTMAN: Why did you vote against it? I don't know why you voted against it. I don't know why Democrats wouldn't embrace it.

DEUTSCHE: Because it's a sham. It's a sham. It doesn't do anything.

COLMES: We thank you both very, very much.

HANNITY: I knew you're a Dean guy.

COLMES: They're going to keep arguing. We're going to continue.

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