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Hannity

Conservative Fears Over Specter Appointment

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Nov. 18, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: First, our top story tonight. Embattled Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter held a press conference on Capitol Hill this afternoon, along with outgoing chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch.

It now appears that Sen. Specter has secured the support necessary to chair the judiciary committee when Congress reconvenes in January.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I have not and would not use a litmus test to deny confirmation to pro-life nominees. I have voted to confirm Chief Justice Rehnquist after he voted against Roe v. Wade.

Similarly, I voted to confirm pro-life nominees Justice Scalia, Justice O'Connor, Justice Kennedy. And I led the successful fight to confirm Justice Thomas, which almost cost me my Senate seat in 1992.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: But are conservatives really convinced that the president's pro-life judicial nominees are going to be safe?

Joining us now, Mississippi Republican Sen. Trent Lott.

Senator, I fully expected you to be down there in Little Rock at the dedication of this — this library today. You missed that.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: Well, I know to look at those fronts coming from Texas into Arkansas and on into Mississippi. And when you see them coming, you better get out of the way, because it rains cats and dogs.

But I talked to former Senator and secretary of defense Bill Cohen, and he said it was plenty wet but they went ahead with it anyway.

HANNITY: We're going to get into that coming up a little bit later. Obviously, Alan is out there.

First of all, your thoughts on what Sen. Specter said today. Does that put aside, perhaps, fears that you may have had?

LOTT: I think he has dealt with the issue sufficiently. I have a lot of confidence in the Senators on the judiciary committee, the Republicans, including Orrin Hatch and Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, John Cornyn of Texas.

These are not pushovers. They really do want to work with this president to get his judicial nominees confirmed. And I think that the points that Sen. Specter made were important. But I can even bring it up to more recently.

When the Democrats were obstructing and filibustering and blocking very good men, women, and minorities over the past two years for appellate courts, Sen. Specter did not participate in that. In fact, he opposed that.

And I know that in case after case he went with these qualified nominees who may have been conservative or they may have been pro-life, but he looked at the record, and unless there's some sort of an ethical or educational or background problem, he supported them.

I've worked with Sen. Specter. I do believe he's a man of his word. And I believe, based on my own experience with him, he will get on the point of the spear and he will support President Bush's nominees for the federal judiciary.

HANNITY: All right. Well, there's a lot of conservatives who are upset about his position on Robert Bork. I interviewed him on my radio show, and he said he was only, quote, "inclined" to support Clarence Thomas if the president wanted him to be the chief justice and only basically said he did a satisfactory job, nothing beyond that.

Clearly, a lot of pressure must have been brought to bear on him.

LOTT: Pressure was brought on him and pressure was brought on all of us. The American people saw Sen. Specter not choose his words carefully in the immediate afterglow of the election, and it sounded like he was warning or threatening the president, and the American people didn't like it. People in my state didn't like it.

HANNITY: Yes.

LOTT: One of the points I've made, Sean, is when I came to Washington in 1968, the Democrats in the House were trying to strip my boss, a Democrat, the chairman of the rules committee of seniority for one reason: he was conservative. And it really offended me. It's one of the reasons why I guess, I think, I became a Republican.

Sen. Specter is more moderate than I am, but I don't think that is enough reason alone, if he's going to support these nominees, and I believe he will. He's told us he will, and I think the matter has been put to rest.

HANNITY: Let me — let me ask you this. Jacques Chirac actually said yesterday that the world is, quote, "more dangerous because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power."

We know that Tony Blair reached out to the European community and said, "Stop mocking the American president; work with him."

How do we get along with — with the head of a country that has that ideology, that has opposed us to the extent that he was and clearly was involved in selling arms to Saddam, clearly involved in corruption and business dealings with Saddam that they didn't make known to the world?

How do we ever repair a relationship with somebody that morally bankrupt?

LOTT: I think it's going to be a real problem, Sean. I am really mad about it.

They didn't just oppose us. They went out and actively worked against us all over the world: in Africa and with Mexico. I mean, and they won't quit.

But you know, when you talk about it to other European countries, they say, "Oh, well, that's the French," and just shake their head.

But they are a tremendous problem. I think that relations have been damaged, and I think they're going to have to change not only their attitude but their rhetoric.

Some people say we're not reaching out to them. Well, give it up, President Chirac. Look what he has continued to do. Thank goodness for the British and for Tony Blair.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Senator — Senator, good to have you with us. You're very much missed here in Little Rock tonight. I know they would have loved to have had you here for the festivities.

LOTT: Well, there are a lot of great people over there, and actually, I'm sure I would have enjoyed being there, Alan.

COLMES: We're going to talk about that later tonight.

Look, should Sen. Specter or any senator ahead of time make a commitment to support every nominee that a president sends down the pike?

LOTT: No, I wouldn't do that. You know, there's a possibility that there would be a nominee that I'd have some problem with, based on his experience or something he did or said or something that— some ethical problem.

But my predisposition would be to work with the president. And certainly, if you're chairman of the judiciary committee, to try to move that process along, get those nominees to the floor and actually get on the floor and aggressively support those nominees.

COLMES: And so you wouldn't support the idea that in order to get the chairmanship — you wouldn't support the idea that in order to get the chairmanship, Arlen Specter should sign some kind of pledge to support or promise to support whatever nominee Bush offers?

LOTT: No, but I do think that the responsible thing for him to do is what he did, and that was put out a statement saying, "I am going to work with this president. I am not going to apply a litmus test. I am going to be aggressive and try to get his nominees confirmed."

If one of them or two of them develop a problem, certainly you understand that.

But it was what he said right after the election where it kind of — it sounded like he was saying if the president sent up pro-life judges, he might not support them. That's not what he actually said. But...

COLMES: I agree with you; he didn't say that.

LOTT: You need to be careful with what you — what you say.

COLMES: Yes. Look, I defended you when you went through a little bit of a problem. I was one of the few Democrats who stood up for you, sir.

LOTT: Yes.

COLMES: Look, you made a statement a few moments ago about Democrats being obstructionists and you used a phrase of obstructing minorities, and that implies the Democrats obstruct someone because they are a minority.

You know that if a Democrat gets in the way of somebody's nomination, the color of that person's skin or their gender has nothing to do with it. It may be they just not — may not feel that person is right for the job.

LOTT: Alan, I'll never understood for the life of me why they opposed Miguel Estrada. American dream success story, a brilliant guy. Yes, a conservative, but there was no problem. In fact, he was nothing but pluses across the board.

COLMES: They didn't object to him because of his heritage.

LOTT: Why did they object to him? What possible reason? He's brilliant, editor of the "Harvard Law Review," you know, born in Central America, grew up in America. There was no reason to oppose that man, except that he's Hispanic.

COLMES: The point is, you can't make the charge — you're not going to make the charge that it's only because of his heritage that the Democrats objected to him and that implies racism.

LOTT: Alan, of the ten judges that were filibustered and blocked, I think four of them or half of them were minorities or women. I mean, that's a pretty high percentage.

And so, you know, I don't think they opposed him just because of minorities, because the point is, even in spite of the fact they were minorities, even though they were qualified, if they were conservative, they considered them not qualified.

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