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Hannity

Dems Don't Say 'A-Lott' About Byrd Praise

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", April 8, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: When Republican Trent Lott praised the career of his colleague, Senator Strom Thurmond, former segregationis, Lott took a beating and was forced to step down as Senate majority leader.

So what should happen to Senator Chris Dodd? He made these comments about fellow Democratic West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, a former member of the Klu Klux Klan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Robert C. Byrd in my view, Mr. President, would have been right at anytime. You would have been right at the founding of this country. You would have been in the leadership of crafting this Constitution. You would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: So Trent Lott got demoted for his remarks. Well, what should happen to Senator Dodd? Should he also pay a price?

Joining us now, "Newsday" columnist Ellis Henican and Roy Innis, national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality. Good to see you both.

Roy, let me begin with you, my friend.

Here it is -- By the way, Chris Dodd said at the time when the Trent Lott controversy went on, he said, "If Tom Daschle or another Democratic leader were to have made similar statements, the reaction would have been swift. I don't think several hours would have gone by without there being an almost unanimous call for the leader to step aside."

What do you think?

ROY INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: He was wrong then; he's wrong now. He was a hypocrite then; he's a hypocrite now.

HANNITY: Senator Dodd?

INNIS: Yes, Senator Dodd. I mean, Dodd was the one that called for the scalp of Trent Lott. How can he, in good faith, look in the mirror and do what he did?

HANNITY: I agree.

You know, Ellis, look, it doesn't really matter to me, even, what you think about Senator Lott or what he said about Strom Thurmond. It was at an event; it was off the cuff. It was to praise him.

I know Senator Lott. I know Senator Lott doesn't have a racist bone in his body, period. I don't care what anybody says, because I know the man.

I don't believe Senator Dodd is a racist. I don't. I really don't. It's the hypocrisy issue. It's how nobody's been talking about it. It's the double standard that is enough to make me sick in Dodd's case, and the things that he said about Senator Lott.

ELLIS HENICAN, "NEWSDAY": Well, Sean, I don't believe it's a hypocrisy issue at all.

I say nice things about you all the time, and I disagree with about half of the things you believe. The two are not connected.

There is no reason to think, and I don't think even you believe this, that Chris Dodd was somehow embracing the things that Robert Byrd believed 50 years ago.

HANNITY: I know. I think he's a hypocrite.

HENICAN: He didn't believe that. So what's the problem?

ALAN COLMES,CO-HOST: He was talking about an entire career. He was talking about it, as opposed to one incident.

Let me just tell you something. It was when Strom Thurmond ran for president as a Dixiecrat and then Lott said he should -- By the way, I defended Trent Lott and did not think he should have lost his leadership position. I'm on record as having felt that way.

But he was talking about a specific moment in time when he ran as a Dixiecrat for president.

INNIS: Well, let's talk about Bobby Byrd, the Klu Klux Klan member.

COLMES: Let's talk about that.

INNIS: Let's talk him after the period that Trent Lott -- that Thurmond ran for president. In 1964, he was part of the leadership of an 18-hour filibuster...

COLMES: Yes, yes.

INNIS: ... against the Civil Rights Bill of 1964...

COLMES: Exactly.

INNIS: ... which changed America.

COLMES: Let me show you what he said on "Fox News Sunday" a few years ago about how he's many times renounced and denounced his previous positions.

Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: We all make mistakes. And I made a mistake when I was a young man. It's always been an albatross around my neck in joining the Klu Klux Klan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENICAN: Let me tell you, Alan, what's the difference between these two. Chris Dodd does not have a problem through his entire career of being some kind of neo-segregationist.

All the way up to the modern times -- I know Sean doesn't like to hear this -- but Trent Lott has been playing footsie with these same kind of...

HANNITY: That wasn't the point, Ellis. That wasn't the point, Ellis

HENICAN: ... white supremacy groups all the way into the '90s. That's what his problem was.

HANNITY: And by the way, for the record, Strom Thurmond had apologized, too. It's meaningless to this debate.

COLMES: I just want to say, by the way, Republicans like Ted Stevens of Alaska have praised -- and Bill Frist have praised Robert Byrd as well. So should we look at what they said?

INNIS: I would not beat up Bobby Byrd, all right? But then you guys cannot beat up on Trent Lott either.

COLMES: I didn't. I never did.

INNIS: America has changed.

COLMES: I never did.

INNIS: I'm glad that you didn't do it.

HENICAN: One thing to remember, by the way, it was the Republicans who dumped him as their leader. It wasn't the Democrats.

COLMES: That's right. Very good point.

HENICAN: They should have kept him if they thought he was so great.

INNIS: Following the advice of Mr. Connecticut...

HENICAN: And when do they listen to Mr. Connecticut?

COLMES: Let me ask you a question. Why didn't President Bush stand up for Trent Lott, because it was his lack of support that led to the Republicans getting rid of him as leader.

INNIS: I felt that America has changed and people will make slip of the tongue. I think Trent Lott made a slip of the tongue.

COLMES: Yes.

INNIS: There was no real disease that he demonstrated. I think that the senator from Connecticut had a lot of time, based on the Trent Lott situation, to have considered his words more carefully.

HANNITY: Roy, let me -- I've got to tell you what I really think here, Roy. I don't think either one of these guys are racists. I don't think Senator Trent Lott is a racist.

INNIS: Nor me. Nor me.

HANNITY: I don't think Chris Dodd is a racist. You know what I think? I think both guys were trying to say something nice about older colleagues. That's not the issue.

But when Trent Lott did it, Chris Dodd was the first to scream and yell and jump up and down and make a political issue out of it.

INNIS: And to call upon the Republican leadership to dump Lott.

HANNITY: Well, I think the standard should be applied to him, Ellis. Otherwise he's a hypocrite. I don't think he's a racist, but I think he's hypocrite.

HENICAN: I'm glad you think that. As the only one of the four of us who is actually from the deep South, I understand it ... all the background, all...

HANNITY: I lived in the deep South, by the way.

HENICAN: I know. Let me talk as a Louisiana guy here.

I mean, there is a lot of bad history, you know? And there's stuff down there that happened that's impossible to defend today.

HANNITY: But not -- but that is not Trent Lott. I know the man. He's not a racist. Neither is Chris Dodd. But Chris Dodd shouldn't have jumped on Lott. That's the point.

HENICAN: I will take you on your word on that, Sean, but let's remember: Trent did hang around a lot of bad people way into the '90s now.

INNIS: But isn't there a resounding silence that...

COLMES: Roy gets the last word. Good to see you, Ellis. Glad to see you. That's all for tonight.

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