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Hannity

Gingrich Weighs in on the Democratic Convention

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 14, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: As we get right to our top story tonight, joining us from Washington, the author of "Grant Comes East," former Speaker of the House, FOX News political analyst Newt Gingrich.

By the way, did I read [something about you in] "The Washington Post" this week? Did they say something nice about you in that piece? What was that?!

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There was actually a terrific article on healthcare that was in the "Post" health section yesterday. It was very nice, very positive. A lovely article.

HANNITY: They took a little shot, but that was it. I said this is impressive; Newt has come far. We're going to have to start questioning your credentials now.

GINGRICH: No, no, no. I think if you're trying to save lives you can actually get people on both sides of the aisle to agree that saving lives is a good thing. I wouldn't carry it, as you'll see in the next 90 seconds, into a broad bipartisan future.

HANNITY: I'm hoping. I like the old Newt, the Newt that was the revolutionary.

All right. By the way, first of all, why are you abandoning me at the Democratic convention? You told me on my radio show...

GINGRICH: I'm not abandoning you.

HANNITY: You're not coming. So you're going to abandon me and have me face the forces of extremism by myself.

GINGRICH: I am happy to watch on television. I will be glad to call into the radio show. I hope to be allowed to come on the show with you and Alan. I'm sure Alan will be thrilled defending the convention, and explaining the various whacked -ut liberals that are on all day.

It will be a terrific experience and I'll be glad to be an observer. But I think it would be inappropriate for Newt Gingrich to show up in Boston, which is a city I love, but to show up there during the Democratic Convention strikes me as inappropriate.

HANNITY: I will be glad to hire security for the both of us.

But let's look at this. We have Jimmy Carter. We have Bill Clinton. It appears Hillary threw a big enough fit that she'll have a prominent role.

Al Gore, Howard Dean, Al Sharpton and the No. One liberal in the Senate and the fourth liberal in the Senate.

Is there any room any more in the Democratic Party for any moderation? They have taken a hard turn to the left. And that's what we're going to see in a week and a half.

GINGRICH: You raise one of the really interesting questions. If you think of the two conventions by comparison, the Republicans are going to have Governor Schwarzenegger who is pro-choice and a social moderate. They're going to have Rudy Giuliani, who is pro-choice and a social moderate. They're going to have the mayor of New York, who is pro-choice and a social moderate.

HANNITY: A Liberal.

GINGRICH: A liberal even. They're going to have Zell Miller, a Democratic senator.

So clearly, if you're looking for diversity, if you're looking for a party willing to allow people who argue and have different ideas, the Republican Party is actually going to be dramatically more open than the hard left Democratic Party, which has, you know, two former presidents, a very liberal Democratic senator, and then two of the four most left wing members of the Senate.

HANNITY: I think on the converse side of all of this, are the Republicans abandoning the conservative base? Where are the conservative speakers?

You've got McCain. You've got Rudy. Zell Miller, a Democrat, is probably the more conservative of anybody there. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Are they distancing themselves from conservatives, their base?

GINGRICH: First of all, if you're going to have Dick Cheney and President Bush George W. Bush...

HANNITY: I'm asking the question. Why are you laughing at my question? That's a good thoughtful question?

GINGRICH: Because the keynote address is not Zell Miller, who is going to be technically the keynoter. The centerpiece of the convention is Vice President Cheney.

HANNITY: Right.

GINGRICH: And President Bush accepting the nomination. And it will be pretty hard anywhere in America to argue that these guys are anything but conservative. Unlike Kerry and Edwards, by the way...

HANNITY: I like the inclusiveness. I agree with you. And of all of these guys, I like all of them. I mean, sincerely, and I think they are representative of the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

I think you're right. And it's George Bush and it's Dick Cheney. And they are the conservatives and they are at the top of the ticket. I'm just raising a question.

GINGRICH: I'm going to go out on a limb tonight and tell you, I believe in the end, the election is going to be 58-42 or better for President Bush.

HANNITY: Wow.

GINGRICH: And the two conventions are part of the reason.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: That's amazing to me. First of all, you have a conservative Republican talking at the Republican convention, Zell Miller. So I think you're pretty much covered.

GINGRICH: Zell Miller is a lifetime Democrat.

COLMES: I know, it was little joke. I mean, he's gone way to the other side. But listen, for you to refer to the entire Democratic lineup as a bunch of lunatic liberals, Bill Clinton...

GINGRICH: I didn't say lunatic liberals.

HANNITY: I was thinking it. He read my mind.

COLMES: He did. But look...

GINGRICH: I mean, Sean may have said that.

COLMES: I sit here reading Hannity's mind every night for an hour.

But look, Bill Clinton is not way over there on the left. He's a centrist. There's a wide array in the Democratic Party.

This has been the strategy from day one, painting the Democratic Party, painting whoever is nominated and using the words liberal, liberal, liberal against any Democrat.

GINGRICH: Alan, let's be fair for a second. "National Journal," a nonpartisan publication...

COLMES: Right.

GINGRICH: ...says Kerry is the most left wing senator and Edwards is the fourth most left wing.

Now, ff you think of a graph, Alan.

COLMES: Right. And I understand.

GINGRICH: And there are a hundred senators.

COLMES: Yes.

GINGRICH: If the guys your party nominates are No. 1 and No. 4 on the left, isn't it fair to say they're pretty left wing?

COLMES: First of all, I have no problem with being left wing, No. 1.

No. 2 is, those numbers are for 2003. The "National Journal" early in 2003, before the Senate met and voted referred to Edwards as a centrist to moderate Democrat. And his voting record prior to 2003 is in the 75 range not the 95 range, which it was for the last year of his service.

GINGRICH: And what's the difference? The difference is, prior to that campaign, he represented North Carolina and tried to be a moderate liberal in North Carolina.

When he decided to run for president, he promptly moved 25 points to the left and became the fourth most liberal member of the Senate. All I'm saying is — and I'm not saying this pejoratively. As a matter of fact, if you were the No. 1 left-winger and the No. 4 left-winger out of a hundred people, if you are to the left of Hillary Clinton and to the left of Teddy Kennedy, why isn't it simply accurate if I describe them as being left wing?

COLMES: You know, I said I have no problem with the liberal label. I'm proud of being a liberal and they should be too. I think liberalism is part of the great history of this country, and I have no problem and nor should anybody run away from it.

GINGRICH: You try to get them to admit that they're left wing and see how they run away from it.

COLMES: You guys want to get hung up on labels. Let's talk about balancing the budget. You were, in 1994, spearheading a contract with America, talking about balancing the budget. This president has done the opposite.

There's a huge Medicare bill. We can go down the list of things this president has done that certainly is not conservative.

GINGRICH: First of all, we've had a war, a terrorist attack on our homeland and a recession, which was made much deeper by the terrorist attack.

If you had asked me as somebody who did, in fact, author the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, I would say to you, give us economic growth, transform the health system, control domestic spending and we we'll get back to a balanced budget in seven or eight or nine years. We're not going to do it overnight.

But I'll guarantee you, if you look at the $2 trillion of additional spending that Kerry is promising, we're not going to get there with Kerry's campaign. Because you add up every one of his promises, and it's about $2 trillion in extra spending, Alan.

COLMES: You can't deny that this president has driven up deficit, inherited a surplus, driven up deficit and debt. Is George W. Bush governing as a true conservative?

GINGRICH: First of all, Usama bin Laden drove up the deficit with the attack on American cities on 9/11. Talk about a wartime president.

And you know, Abraham Lincoln didn't have a balanced budget. He was fighting a civil war. Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn't have a balanced budget, he was fighting the Second World War.

We are in a real war. It is a worldwide war. We have real enemies out there who truly want to kill us and frankly, you've got to spend more money for it.

Mr. Speaker, Prime Minister Tony Blair of England said in the last 24 hours that he accepts full responsibility for any errors in the use of British intelligence concerning the alleged weapons of mass destruction. Should President Bush say a similar statement?

GINGRICH: Well, I think it's fine for him to say a similar statement. But look carefully what the Butler report says. The Butler report says that, in fact, Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger.

Now, this is one of the most controversial things people talked about. The Italian, French and British intelligence agencies have all come back and said Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger.

Now if that's the case, I would say to my good friends on the left, why would you not be worried if Iraq was trying to buy uranium? Why wouldn't that be a hint that Saddam was trying to get nuclear weapons?

And furthermore, President Putin of Russia in the last three weeks has said publicly that he warned President Bush that Iraq was planning terrorist attacks against the United States. Now wouldn't you expect after 9/11 that an American president would take seriously a warning from the Russian president...

COLMES: I understand, you make some good points, but what I'm saying is that Tony Blair did say he took full responsibility for that — one of the arguments that there was a stockpile of WMDs ready to be used, which the British intelligence now says the report you referred to said was not the case, should the president, to maintain his own credibility, make a similar statement.

GINGRICH: Sure, he can say it but what does it mean? Tony Blair is not offering to resign. He's not offering to step down. He's not doing anything. He's saying, "I am responsible."

Well, by definition the head of government in Britain is responsible, because they have a parliamentary system.

The president can say he's responsible but the fact is, what's got to do is pick a new director of central intelligence. The president has already said he wants to overhaul the intelligence system.

I saw him the other day on television, saying that he was wrong, that lots of people were wrong, that they honestly thought they'd find very big stockpiles as soon as they crossed the border and it was a big surprise to him.

But when you go back and you look at the intelligence that was available at the time and you look at what honest men who had worked for this country for many years said, if you were the president, you had to reach the conclusion that Saddam was very dangerous.

HANNITY: Both reports say that they acted honorably, responsibly and decisively based on the information they had. One of the things, I think William Sapphire had an interesting thought in his column today, Newt, which is when we went into Iraq the first time we thought he was about five to ten years outside of getting a nuclear program.

When we got there, our intelligence was wrong the other way. He was about six months away from having a nuclear bomb. This is not a pure science we're dealing with here. But, you know, it seems all the Democrats, all now have exonerated themselves from their definitive statements.

GINGRICH: But let me compound that. As late as 1995, with U.N. inspectors on the ground in Iraq, we believed he did not have a biological program...

HANNITY: That's right.

GINGRICH: ...until his son-in-law defected and turned over to us evidence of a massive biological warfare program. I think that's the background in which the senior analysts at the CIA were looking at information.

HANNITY: Let me tie this into the election, and let me tie this into what we were talking about earlier, how extremely left wing the ticket is and the convention and the chosen speech.

Now they added Gore, Dean and Sharpton and Hillary. It's now the perfect liberal convention.

But when you put it in the perspective of people that vote for a war, won't vote to fund the war, now they say they're against the war. When those two competing visions are laid out for the American people, when there — when there is that kind of choice presented to them I can't see this ticket winning.

GINGRICH: Well, I think the burden of John Kerry and John Edwards Kerry is very simple. Do they really believe the world would be safer today if Saddam Hussein were still the dictator of Iraq and was still trying to get weapons of mass destruction? Do they think that would be better?

And if they don't believe that's better, then aren't they really arguing about details, and in the end wasn't George W. Bush right?

And I can't quite imagine when they get to the presidential and vice presidential debates and when they're asked the question, would we be safer with Saddam still in power, that they're going to say “yes.” And that puts them in a difficult, difficult position.

COLMES: Bring those questions on Mr. Speaker. Good to see you. Thanks for being here tonight.

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