This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Sept. 16, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: There is good news for at least one Republican today, a new Quinnipiac poll from Pennsylvania shows President Bush leading Senator Kerry by a point. One whole point in the Keystone state. While in Minnesota, President Bush was visiting there today, a new Gallup poll gives the commander in chief a two-point lead over Senator Kerry.
But it is still too early to celebrate? Joining us now, Republican National Committee Communications Director Jim Dyke and Democratic strategist Chris Lapetina.
Good to see you both. Jim, let me begin with you. Let me just show you that everything is all rosy for President Bush. Let me show you the Annenberg survey that shows, among persuadable voters, Bush's approval has dropped 56 percent in August to 44 percent in September. His disapproval increased from 39 to 49 percent. So we're not uniform here in term of what every poll — many polls have it very, very close, within the margin of error. So this is still pretty much a horse race, isn't it?
JIM DYKE, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: It is. And we've always said that the polls will go up and down. We've always said this would close to a tight election.
The important thing I think to point out is that we've come out of our convention with some real momentum. And there is a reason for that. The president pointed to his achievements in his first term, the No Child Left Behind act, Medicare reform, Homeland Security department, tax relief to grow our economy and create jobs.
He put forward an agenda looking forward, as well. It was a very sharp contrast to the...
COLMES: Come on, you don't think that's why he is doing well in the polls? You know it's the negative campaigning. The swift boats have had an effect. They've just besmirched Kerry's character. They tried to define Kerry before Kerry could define himself. You know that was the effect, not Bush's campaign speech at the convention.
DYKE: I disagree with that. I think it's the issues. I think, when Senator Kerry can't explain, when his advisers can't explain his position in Iraq, you know, he took another position today. We've had a 12-minute documentary of Senator Kerry's positions in Iraq.
They continue to evolve as the polls evolve, or for whatever reason, I don't know. But it's an important subject. The approach on how we deal with terrorism, whether we go back to a law enforcement approach, Senator Kerry said at his convection in Boston, that if we were struck again, he would respond forcefully. This president believes we have to go after the terrorists.
COLMES: Chris, you know if Mr. Kerry continued to make the case that this war on terrorism hasn't been fought properly, that we re-diverted, as apparently Tommy Franks told Senator Graham, resources from Afghanistan to Iraq, we don't have an exit strategy, don't know how much it's going to cost us. I think Senator Kerry has to continue to make these points to make his position clear to the American people.
CHRIS LAPETINA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. No, I think that the president's very lucky about two things. One is that he ran a very successful negative campaign during the convention, which had an effect. Also that the Kerry campaign, quite frankly, has failed to make the case, Alan, in which you are making, which is that this war on terror is not going as well as it should be, that Usama bin Laden's — it's been three years since Usama bin Laden murdered three 3,000 Americans.
And the president not as — not only has he not killed him, he refuses to even mention his name unless prompted by reporters. The war on terrorism needs to be fought much more efficiently.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Mr. Lapetina...
LAPETINA: ... much more efficiently.
HANNITY: Let me credit you guys. Look, I'm getting nervous. I see you guys are coming back. You're sending Ted Kennedy out there on the campaign trail, I'm getting very nervous about it. I don't like the fact that you're calling the president unfit for command, saying he didn't show up for service, that he concocted a war for political gain. It was concocted in Texas.
You guys, I — just keep going what you're doing. Just keep — Chris, you got it down pat. Just you keep going down this road. Keep changing your position on Iraq.
LAPETINA: Let me tell you...
HANNITY: Keep going.
LAPETINA: This is what bothers me about the president and his national...
HANNITY: I didn't ask you about that. Who cares what you think about...
LAPETINA: You did. You put it out. You said this is what Democrats are talking about.
HANNITY: I know you don't like him. You hate Bush. I know. Blah, blah, blah.
LAPETINA: I do not hate President Bush. But let me tell you what bothers me as a veteran and as a voter. What bothers me is that, one thing I think Jim and I will agree on, is that, from all I could tell, he was turning out to be a very — George Bush was turning out to be a very competent pilot.
He was well trained. His fitness report said he was a good pilot. And yet in 1969...
HANNITY: This is your talking point, if you want to do this stuff — let me ask you this question about Kerry's service in Vietnam. John Kerry admitted he committed atrocities. John Kerry admitted he burned down villages.
HANNITY: I want to know what atrocities he committed. Do we have a right to know before the elections?
LAPETINA: Yes. Well, let me tell you the difference...
HANNITY: Should we ask him that question?
LAPETINA: Of course.
HANNITY: Should we ask him why he burned down the villages?
LAPETINA: I was one of the Democrats to say that the swift boat veterans have a right to say whatever they want and let the voters decide.
HANNITY: OK. But that's interesting to me, Jim. Because what they're saying is they vote for a guy that couldn't be a prison guard at Abu Ghraib prison. It's pretty amazing to me the double standard. They want to stay on Vietnam. I want those questions answered. I want to know why John Kerry heard these confessions from these rapists, these murderers, these guys that chopped off heads and arms, and didn't turn them in. I that that's another question we ought to have answered don't you, Jim?
DYKE: Absolutely. You know, look, what we focus on here are the issues, the economy, tax relief, growing economy, creating jobs versus John Kerry's plan to increase taxes. He's only promised $600 billion. He's got $2 trillion in spending.
And I challenge — you know, Alan talked about the issues and wanting to talk about the issues. Senator Kerry said a month ago that, knowing what he knows today, he would have voted for the resolution. Yesterday morning, he said knowing what he knows today, he would vote against the resolution.
COLMES: He didn't say that. He said voting for the resolution ... but wouldn't have been for the war the way the president executed the war. He was very clear about that. You don't want to acknowledge it. You are misrepresenting his position.
All right, we thank you for being us with.
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