This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 21, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Now reporting live from the first Democratic forum in the 2008 presidential race in Carson City, Nevada, "Campaign" Carl Cameron.
Carl, what's going on?
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alan.
We're about 11 months away from the first primaries and caucuses. And the Democratic race today took a turn for the negative that would make most observers think we must be only days away from the first primary and caucus.
Allegations of lying, dirty politics, personal destruction all between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in this Democratic presidential race. It was actually started by Obama backer and Hollywood big shot David Geffen.
Mr. Geffen held a news — a fundraiser last night in Beverly Hills for Mr. Obama; $1.3 million was raised. He has abandoned his support for the Clintons back in the 90s and was quoted in today's New York Times as explaining why he supports Obama and bashed both Clintons, Hillary and Bill, saying quote, "Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling."
Geffen went on to say, "I don't think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is, can bring the country together."
Here in Nevada, at the Carson City Democratic forum, where Obama was absent, Hillary fired back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to run a very positive campaign, and I sure don't want Democrats or the supporters of Democrats to be engaging in the politics of personal destruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMERON: No apologies from the Obama campaign. But Obama campaign communications director Robert Gibbs put out a statement, said — excuse me. This is from the Clinton campaign. "While Senator Obama was denouncing slash-and-burn politics yesterday, his campaign's finance chair was viciously and personally attacking Senator Clinton and her husband. He" — meaning Obama — "should immediately denounce these remarks, remove Mr. Geffen from his campaign and return the money."
So far Obama aides refused to apologize. Robert Gibbs put out a statement saying, "It's ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln Bedroom."
They even brought race into it today, saying, quote, it's also ironic that Senator Clinton is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina state senator Robert Ford, who said if Obama were to win the nomination he'd drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because he's black.
Tremendously harsh rhetoric back, and while Obama was absent at the forum today, this fight was center stage and a couple of other Democrats who were here, both tom Vilsack and Bill Richardson, both said that Obama and/or Mr. Geffen should apologize for the remarks — Alan, Sean.
COLMES: Thank you very much, Carl.
And with more on the first Democratic forum in the 2008 run for the White House, we are also joined now by Republican strategist Karen Hanretty and National Public Radio senior correspondent and FOX News contributor Juan Williams.
Let me go stay with Carl, though, for just one second. There's a little bit of background between Geffen and Clinton, Carl, as I understand it. He wanted a pardon for Leonard Peltier, who he feels was falsely convicted in 1977 of killing FBI agents. Instead, Bill Clinton pardoned Mark Rich. Geffen was upset about that.
And didn't that cause a rift between the two? And wasn't that the genesis of some of this back and forth we're hearing today?
CAMERON: It's part of it, but it's not all of it. Geffen was a sometime critic of President Clinton, and yet he was a loyal Hollywood Democratic supporter. There are a number of sort of Los Angeles luminaries who had been Bill Clinton supporters back in the 90s who are now siding with Obama.
And when it comes to the money — and Obama is raising a lot of it lately, perhaps the best example of that is George Soros, who was a huge Democratic Clinton supporter in the 90s. And he, too, says he's going to go with Obama and not Hillary.
COLMES: And Juan Williams, we want to point out that state Senator Ford, who we just — who Carl referenced is also black, his opinion is that a black can't win. I don't think he's saying it because he's racist. That may be his opinion. It's unfortunate, but that's what some people in America still believe.
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS ANALYST: Well, I don't know if — I don't know how many people believe it. I think fewer people believe it today than ever.
But I think what's complicated here is that Darrell Jackson, another state senator in South Carolina, of course, is on Hillary's payroll as a political consultant. And he and Ford had ganged up on Obama, before Obama appeared in the state in South Carolina earlier this week and made that claim that he couldn't win.
And then Ford had to back off it because he said he was overwhelmed. He said he had just a sea of people criticizing him for saying it. And Obama fired back and said that's the kind of person who doing the 50s and 60s said black people shouldn't sit at the lunch counter, shouldn't try to establish themselves as equal citizens.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: I want to go to exactly what the supporter of Hillary said and what Obama's press release addressed. Because it said that he would drag down the rest of the entire Democratic Party because he's black. I think the Obama camp has a pretty good point here, and that is why is Hillary accepting the support of a guy that would say something like that?
WILLIAMS: Well, now, in all fairness to Hillary Clinton's campaign, they came out and said that those were terrible, reprehensible comments. They didn't cut ties with them. I think it's a little extreme to think that they were going to cut ties with guys who have a track record. Those are people who delivered.
Remember, John Edwards won in South Carolina in 2004. And they were his big supporters.
HANNITY: But that's insulting. Carl Cameron, and add this to the other controversy where Hillary Clinton paid a consulting fee of what will amount to $10,000 a month, about a total of $210,000 for critical support of an African-American leader in South Carolina.
CAMERON: And a state lawmaker.
HANNITY: State lawmaker.
CAMERON: It's not uncommon — yes, it's not uncommon for consultants to get, you know — for people to get paid for helping out a campaign.
HANNITY: Six days after the contract (ph)...
CAMERON: It is uncommon for that consultant to be an elected political official. Sure.
But the other thing about this, and we shouldn't forget it. When the Clinton campaign raises questions about Barack Obama's ability to win over black votes and whether or not the Democratic Party will accept an African-American nominee, it kind of overlooks one of the big liabilities of Hillary Clinton, particularly in the south.
And that is, there are an awful lot of white voters, Democrats who say if Hillary is the nominee they'll lose the south. So it tends to sort of benefit Hillary, because it focuses on Barack Obama's problems with the African-American vote and completely ignores the fact that Hillary has a problem with the white vote in the South.
HANNITY: Let me go to Karen Hanretty. I want to go back to the money issue for a second. Soros pulled out his support financially for Hillary. He's on the Obama side. Same thing. You have Geffen and these Hollywood folks, they're now with Barack Obama. John Kerry has got...
KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Not all of them.
HANNITY: ... principal fundraisers. And then you go to Geffen's comments. Everybody in politics lie, but they do it with such ease, the Clintons, that it's troubling.
HANRETTY: Well, there's a couple of things. First off, not all of Hollywood is with Barack Obama. I think Stephen Spielberg actually has endorsed Hillary or supports Hillary, raising money for her.
HANNITY: He's raising money for Barack Obama, too.
CAMERON: He endorsed Hillary. Yes.
HANRETTY: Spielberg will be — is or will be raising money for Hillary. I can assure you of that.
But, and the other thing is I think this Hollywood story is really being overblown. You know, the idea that Hollywood now supports Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton because 600 people attend Geffen's fundraiser. Probably those 600 people are more interested in getting close to Geffen because he can get them jobs than they are about Barack Obama being president of the United States.
COLMES: We're going to take a quick break. We're going to pick it up right there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I sure don't want Democrats or the supporters of Democrats to be engaging in the politics of personal destruction.
I think we should stay focused on what we're going to do for America. And, you know, I believe Bill Clinton was a good president, and I'm very proud of the record of his two terms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: That was Hillary Clinton responding this afternoon to a question about David Geffen's comments about her husband.
We continue now with FOX News chief political correspondent, "Campaign" Carl Cameron, Republican strategist Karen Hanretty and National Public Radio correspondent and FOX News contributor, Juan Williams, all with us.
All right, Juan, as I analyze this — you tell me if you agree — when Wolfson speaking for Hillary said there's no place in our party for the kind of political insults made by Senator Obama's principle fundraiser, talking about David Geffen's comments.
I thought Obama's camp hit back and hit back hard when they said it's ironic the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation at the Lincoln Bedroom.
I thought that was, you know, good for Barack Obama. He's ready for, you know, prime time in this political race.
WILLIAMS: He's not taking any stuff off of them.
You know, I thought it was really a cutting comment to hear, you know, Geffen say that Hillary is overproduced and over scripted. That comes from a Hollywood mogul. I thought that was the tag that's really sticking to Hillary early. And so she is getting out there and fighting. That money is important.
The point was made earlier, there's going to be additional fundraisers in Hollywood. Hillary is going to get some of that money. But you've always got to remember, Hillary is already in the lead. So while Barack Obama may be, you know, the new boy on the block, and he's got a spectacular blockbuster personal story, Hillary is already out there. And she's got a personal story, possibly the first woman to be president.
HANNITY: Carl Cameron, I mean, there was a lot of questions, because look, we know the Clintons are tough. We know they have mastered the art of, you know, personal destruction, political destruction of their opponents. And here in the first, you know, shot across the bow, Barack Obama hit back and hit back hard. And I give this round to Barack Obama by a long shot.
CAMERON: Well, all of the Democrats look back at 2004, and they say we're not going to be swift voted. But, what may not have occurred to them at this point is this is Democrat versus Democrat.
HANNITY: We love that, Carl.
CAMERON: If they overreact — if they overreact to this back and forth, they run the risk of looking thin skinned. I mean, let's be realistic. These were David Geffen's remarks, not the Obama campaign's. The Hillary organization here may have goaded the Obama people into reacting a little bit too brittly.
And let's be realistic. If this place does boil down to Hillary vs. Obama for the next 11 months, one of them isn't going to survive. And this type of sparring is just the kind of stuff that people like John Edwards salivate over.
COLMES: That's Hannity, by the way. I think he's salivating here tonight, too.
HANNITY: I admire Barack Obama's camp for doing this. I thought it was a great play on their part.
COLMES: Karen, you know, what's really going to matter is when it comes election time in 2008 who's going to solve the Iraq problem, who's going to clean up the mess George Bush left. Who's going to help the economy? Who's going to get us health care?
That's what the American people, in my view, will be focused on, not who raised money for whom and who sniped at whom in February of 2007.
Do you agree?
HANRETTY: Alan, you're actually right. You're absolutely right. This story...
COLMES: Can we get that on tape please? You're telling me I'm right.
HANRETTY: Mark down February 21. Alan was right.
No, you're right. This is a nothing story. No one is going to remember it a week from now. The fact of the matter is what we really should be talking about today is not the fact that Hillary Clinton totally overreacted. She should have just let the whole Maureen Dowd column...
COLMES: Hillary, she just said, "Let's all get along. Let's make it about issues, not personal discretion." That's what she said.
HANRETTY: She should have let it lie. But, you know, in this forum today, all of the candidates...
HANNITY: Real quick.
HANRETTY: ... they did everything predictable. They said George Bush, you know, is awful. He's led the country in the wrong direction. We have to pull the troops out of Iraq.
But none of them really talked about the war on terror. Is there a war on terror? Should we be fighting terrorism in America?
HANRETTY: None of them addressed that. And no one in America is talking about that tonight, because they are obsessed with David Geffen who, by the way, no one knows.
HANNITY: We've got to run. Thank you all for being with us.
And Hillary did overreact, and the Obama camp sent a message. We'll hit back. It's a good message.
COLMES: She said personal destruction.
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