This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Nov. 17, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle said his final good-bye to his Senate colleagues yesterday after losing an incredibly close race for re-election.
We're now joined by the man who sent Tom Daschle back home to South Dakota, Republican Senator-elect John Thune.
Senator, how are you?
SENATOR-ELECT JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Doing well, Sean. Thank you.
HANNITY: You're not sworn in, but it's all right. I can say that, right?
THUNE: Well, Senator-elect, anyway.
HANNITY: Well, congratulations to you.
THUNE: Thank you.
HANNITY: What do you think happened here for Tom Daschle? Did he come -- did he lose touch with the voters of South Dakota? Did he, being an obstructionist, was it a combination? What happened?
THUNE: Well, I think a central theme in the campaign, Sean, was the lack of activity in the United States Senate, the fact that they weren't allowing votes on judges, the fact that they weren't moving energy policy or healthcare reforms.
And I think that caught up; the whole message of obstructionism and gridlock was something that people in South Dakota and people around the country really tuned in to.
And -- and I also think, too, for better or worse, by virtue of his position, having to be the leader of the National Democrat Party and carry the liberal agenda in the United States Senate, was an agenda that was very far out of step with where a majority of South Dakotans were.
And I think that eventually caught up. And we were able to effectively, I think, draw the contrasts and point out the differences and-- and demonstrate to people in South Dakota that the obstructionism wasn't serving their interests and that the voting record was very far left of where they are on the issues.
HANNITY: But Tom did have a pretty good track record of bringing home what we describe as bacon to the state. So you had an uphill battle. Because there was bringing a lot of -- there were a lot of benefits to being in the leadership position that he was in.
And I even read, I think -- what was it -- there were about 15 percent of voters that voted for George W. Bush or a little bit more also voted for Tom Daschle. Considering their differing views, that's pretty substantial.
THUNE: It is. But you know, we have a history in South Dakota. If you look at the Dakotas over time, we consistently have sent Democrats to Washington, D.C.
And I think that when he's been in office for 26 years, you know, held the title, and had $20 million to spend, you know, those were some formidable obstacles that we had to clear.
And there were a lot of Republicans in South Dakota who are persuaded by his argument. And I think, you know, there were some votes that went in his direction as a result of that.
But ultimately, we were able to hold enough of the Republican vote to win some of the conservative Democrats on some of the cultural issues and win enough of the independent vote to get to where we needed to be.
But it was a close election. It was hard fought. It was expensive. And at the end of the day, I think it was decided on the ground. The turnout is what I had said all along, was what was going to turn the election. And I think that really was true.
HANNITY: I watched it from a distance, and I thought you really conducted yourself well. I thought it was a hard fought election. I liked the debate in particular that you guys had on "Meet the Press" that day. I watched it closely. And I thought you handled yourself very well there.
What are the top issues that you think in the country right now, the ones that you want to work with in the country with the president? And what do you think about this divide. We saw a little bit in the last segment or two.
There's -- there is a deep divide in this country. There is great division. There are two competing visions. I've never heard the president attacked the way he was attacked in this election cycle.
Is there anything we can do to stop this, or is it just a case where you've just got to -- you win, your agenda goes forward?
THUNE: Well, I think it's the agenda of the majority of Americans. And it was a decisive win for the president. It was a decisive win in building a majority in the United States Senate, gaining seats in the House.
And I think what that says is that people in this country, or at least the majority of them, want us to govern from right of center. They want to build a coalition that develops solutions that are on the right side of the equation.
And that they were very concerned about the liberal drift, that the country was drifting further and further to the left.
The things that I want to work on are the things that I think people spoke loudly about in this last election. And that is, you know, getting judges confirmed, making sure that they have an up and down vote.
Moving energy policy, moving tax relief that will continue to grow the economy and create jobs. You know, lower health care costs. Social Security reform, the president has talked about tax reform.
I think he has an opportunity to lead in a bold way. And I think that the Congress is prepared to work with him. And I think there's an opportunity to work in a bipartisan way here.
The country is divided. There are some people with different views out there, but that's what these elections are about. They're about differences.
COLMES: Senator-elect, it's Alan Colmes. Good to have you. Welcome to the show, and congratulations on your victory.
How would you describe yourself for those who were not familiar with you? Would you say that you're socially liberal, fiscally conservative? Where do you say you would fall on that political spectrum?
THUNE: I'm a right-of-center conservative. I think, you know, I served three terms in the House, and if you look at my voting record, I'm fiscally conservative and socially conservative, but you know, willing to be able to work in a legislative body. You've got to be able to find that consensus. And I realize that.
But I do think that when people voted in this election, they wanted to see solutions that were found right of center. I think that's what-- what we're going to do in order to solve problems in this country and meet some of these challenges. We've got to find coalitions.
And I think that is on the political spectrum, where we're going to have the most success.
COLMES: You know, we joke about bipartisanship. And if I say bipartisan, I guess to me that means you think Democratic. If you say bipartisan, you think I'm going to think Republican.
Where in the middle do you actually meet? And how can you really, if you're a social -- if you really believe there's a mandate to go right, and the large number of people voted for John Kerry and a large number of people voted for Tom Daschle, how do you serve those people, as well?
THUNE: Well, I think what you have to do is, you've got to realize that the elections are, you know, that's what this is about. It is about differences. There were some, you know, some real differences in this election. There certainly were in our case -- in our race in South Dakota. And I think there were nationally, too.
But I think, Alan, at the end of the day, what has to happen is that the elections are over. We've got to move on. We've got to govern. And you know, we've got majorities in the House and the Senate, although in the Senate, not a large enough majority to stop a filibuster, which means we have to be able to reach out to Democrats.
THUNE: And I'm hopeful that we will be able on a lot of these issues that people feel deeply about.
HANNITY: We've got to run.
THUNE: ...to find a right of center solution.
HANNITY: Congratulations on your great victory, Senator.
Content and Programming Copyright 2004 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.