This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," March 13, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Yesterday marked three years since Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart was miraculously found nine months after she was kidnapped from her parents' Salt Lake City home.
Recently, Sean sat down for an exclusive interview with Elizabeth and her father, Ed Smart, who traveled to Washington and — to fight for better sex offender legislation. Let's take a look.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: How are you doing?
ELIZABETH SMART, SURVIVED ABDUCTION: I'm doing great.
HANNITY: I guess it may be hard for you to imagine how invested everybody, the country, everybody, their hopes, their prayers for you. Have you become aware of just how involved people were in your disappearance?
ELIZABETH SMART: You know, I have people come up to me all the time and just tell me how much they love me and how much they prayed for me. And I don't think I realized how big it is, or was, but, you know I appreciate everything that everyone did for me.
HANNITY: Yes, and this man, your dad, was on TV. It was almost every night, for awhile.
ED SMART: Enough, enough.
HANNITY: I nine months is a long time. That is a long time. I remember your dad, you know, I remember looking, people were losing hope. Do you know the story? He's the only one that never doubted. Did he tell you that?
ELIZABETH SMART: Yes, he's told me that. He's also said that my mom was great, too...
HANNITY: Your mom, yes, I meant your mom, to, but how hard was it for you during that time, now when you think back on it?
ED SMART, FATHER: Oh, I'm sure it was the most difficult time of my life. Like any parent that's lost their child. That was one of the most incredible experiences about the nine months, was meeting all of these other families and seeing how they managed to survive through it. And I just came away with this incredible appreciation for, you know, what I had and for how we were surviving and how we needed to survive.
HANNITY: At one point during all of this you even became a suspect?
ED SMART: Oh, that's the natural. That's the norm, is to look at the family first ,o that was important.
HANNITY: Did it go too far?
ED SMART: You know, I think that they can't do their job unless they...
HANNITY: They do that?
ED SMART: They have to.
HANNITY: So not only did you lose your daughter and you're looking for your daughter, and you're busy trying to find your daughter but now they're asking you questions. Where were you that night? What were you doing? What time did you find out? Again and again...
ED SMART: You know, but I think that every family — you know, I remember watching Mark Lunsford, all of the others go through the same scenario. Was it him? Did he do it? What kind of a background does he have? And so forth.
And I really gained an incredible empathy for those family members. And as difficult as it is to see them have to go through that and to have the police, you know, take a look at them, you know that it's something that has to be done because to many times it is the family.
HANNITY: Yes. So you're like a rock star now in Salt Lake City. Everybody knows you in town. Do you like that? What does it mean to you?
ELIZABETH SMART: You know, it means a lot that that many people cared about me. And that so many people got, I don't know, emotionally invested, I guess. And you know, I just feel very blessed and, you know, just very grateful to everyone and everything they did.
HANNITY: What does it mean to you, whenever we hear these stories about a missing child, the words, "Well, we found Elizabeth Smart." You're the miracle. Do you look at your life as a miracle now?
ELIZABETH SMART: Yeah. I do. I mean, who knows? I mean, you see — you hear about so many other stories, that they don't have a happy ending, and that just makes me — like every time I hear a story about a child that was kidnapped and, you know, didn't have such a wonderful ending, it just makes me, you know, wow, I am so thankful.
I don't know why, you know, mine worked out, but, you know, I do believe that, you know, everyone that prayed and everyone that helped, you know, that helped to find me was — played a huge part in bringing me home.
HANNITY: I know you don't want to talk about that nine-month period and I don't want to ask you about that. I want to ask you one question. Were you aware at the time that a search was on for you?
ELIZABETH SMART: I think — I was aware that there was a search going on, but I had no idea how extensive it really was.
HANNITY: Yes. You did know a little bit, though?
ELIZABETH SMART: Just tiny...
HANNITY: You know what was amazing, Ed, when we found out later, how close the first two, what was it, first few nights you were to her.
ED SMART: Not just the first few nights; the first couple of months.
ED SMART: It was just unbelievable.
HANNITY: Yes, it's really hard. You never told this loving father of yours, this dad of yours, you never told him what happened. You never told anybody what happened?
ELIZABETH SMART: No.
HANNITY: No. Do you think you ever will?
ELIZABETH SMART: No, I don't.
HANNITY: You just don't want to go there?
ELIZABETH SMART: I mean, you know, it's over. It's done with it. I'm through. I have — I have such a great family and such a great life right now. I just don't see any point in trying to relive the past and you know. I think in life, when we come to a hole, we should just jump over it and keep going and, you know, full steam ahead.
HANNITY: As we continue on "Hannity and Colmes," and now more of my exclusive interview with Elizabeth and Ed Smart. They traveled to Washington to encourage senators to approve a national sex offender registry bill.
HANNITY: Have you forgiven the people that did this to your daughter, and have you forgiven them?
ELIZABETH SMART: I have forgiven them because I think if I were to hold on to it and not forgive them, then I would be a wreck. I mean, you know, I think a lot of, I don't know, the misery in this world is because people can't forgive each other, and so...
HANNITY: It's easy to forgive, I guess, little things. This is a big thing. This is a little girl. This is nine months of her life. She was ripped away from her family. That happened to you. And you in your heart, you have forgiven the people that did this to you?
ELIZABETH SMART: You know, I just, you know, I forgave them and I just don't think about them anymore. And I move on and hope that, you know, I can help make this world a better place.
HANNITY: I want to talk about that in a minute. If you're a dad, if you're like me, there's no forgiveness here.
ED SMART: You know, the fortunate thing is, is that in the end, I'm not going to be his judge. I'm not going to be his judge.
HANNITY: Fortunate for him.
ED SMART: I — I feel so strongly that if he ever got out, he would resume the same thing, and I would hate to see any person go through that.
HANNITY: The recidivism rate for people that do this to children is so high.
ED SMART: It's huge.
ED SMART: And I believe that we don't even touch the tip of the iceberg on what happens. We hear about cases that happen, but the ones we don't hear about, I think, its substantially larger.
HANNITY: What should happen, Elizabeth, to people that do this to children like you? What do you want to happen?
ELIZABETH SMART: I think that, you know, this new bill, I think it's very good. It's very important because it holds them responsible, and it will make it be a felony and not just a misdemeanor.
Because, you know, when you like sexually offend someone that is not — that should be taken much, much more seriously than what it is.
ELIZABETH SMART: Because, you know, a lot of people, it ruins their lives, you know. They cannot move on past that. And you know, I'm so thankful to my family and my friends and my Heavenly Father, you know that I can move on. And that, you know, I still have, a wonderful future ahead of me. But, you know, for a lot of people, they just — they can't move on, and it just ruins their lives.
HANNITY: That's why, it's very interesting to me, because you really have not done a real long interview, but you're doing it here, now, in large part because you feel strongly that you can help change the laws to help protect more kids so that they don't have to go through what you went through. This has changed your life in that regard. It's changed the focus of your life.
ELIZABETH SMART: Yes. I — I want this bill to go through and, you know, I hope, you know, I know that things like this will continue to happen, but I hope the numbers go down and that, you know, many, many of the would-be victims, you know, they won't have that — it won't happen to them.
HANNITY: Explain specifically the bill. And there's a little tie-up here, because you work with ["America's Most Wanted" television host] John Walsh. This got stopped in the last Congress. It got through the House of Representatives. It stalled a little bit in the Senate.
But you feel with a strong push from the American people, that it can get through. What do people need to do? And explain the specifics of that bill and why it's so important?
ED SMART: Well, I think that the real benefit of the Bill is that it's going to make the criminal responsible, that abductor, that predator, that sex offender.
And you know, right now, as a nation, we are not unified in how we handle sex offenders. In one city, they will be very lenient. In others, they'll be — there will be a stronger emphasis on controlling the situation.
So when this one over here may be in a very harsh situation, well, "I think I'll leave and go over to XYZ, because they're much more lenient." And when we get a more unified system out there where there is monitoring, where they're checked up on.
HANNITY: Why should they ever get out again, Ed? Why do you get another chance if you violate a child?
ED SMART: You know, I don't — I agree, there are issues there. And — and I don't know how we could ever change that, to be honest, looking at our system.
HANNITY: But the person that did this to Elizabeth should never see the light of day, Ed, should he?
ED SMART: There's no question. I feel strongly that the problem there is, I feel that it would happen again.
HANNITY: Do you think this person should ever see the light of day again?
ELIZABETH SMART: No. You know I hope — I hope he stays put away. You know, there are worst things than death.
HANNITY: We're going to have part two of our interview with Elizabeth and Ed Smart coming up on tomorrow's interview.
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