This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 25, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If one of them gets elected, it sounds to me like we're going on the — we've got a timetable for withdrawal of Iraq. We're going to raise the white flag there. We're going to try to cut back on the Patriot Act. We're going to cut back on electronic surveillance. We're going to cut back on interrogation. We're going to cut back, cut back, cut back. And we'll be back to the pre-September 11 mentality of being on defense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: That was Rudy Giuliani last night at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. America's mayor responded to the criticism that followed his comments on Sean's radio show earlier today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: The point that I was making was that we're going to win this war. I said that America will ultimately defeat the terrorists, no matter who gains the White House in 2008, because our ideas are correct.
We also believe won the Cold War. The question is, how long will it take, and how many casualties will we have?
And my further belief is the more we remain on offense, the quicker we can get to a result with the least number of casualties and the more we go back on defense, the bigger problems we're going to be having.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: Bill Bennett, welcome to the show. We welcome Bill Bennett back to our program.
I can't think of a more divisive way to talk to the American people. The politics of fear, as Barack Obama called it today, that suggests that if Democrats win there will be a white flag. We'll have another 9/11 unless you vote for a Republican like me.
Is that the kind of rhetoric that is healthy for America?
BILL BENNETT, AUTHOR, "AMERICA: THE LAST BEST HOPE": I'm the author of the book "America: The Last Best Hope Volume 2". Thank you.
COLMES: Yes, sir.
BENNETT: It's a perfectly good, appropriate way to talk about things. He did not say we would have another 9/11. That was the headline, but he never said it. That was the headline.
COLMES: Certainly the implication.
BENNETT: No, I don't think it is. I think what he said is perfectly sound and defensible. He says white flag. I mean, Harry Reid said the war is lost. That's a perfectly clear statement.
COLMES: Many Democrats or Republicans?
BENNETT: Well, most — most Democrats retreated from that, Alan, if you look at it. He's right that Democrats want to cut back on surveillance. They want to cut back on interrogation. They want to cut back on the Patriot Act. These are legitimate things to debate in a free society.
But there's no question where the Democrats stand, and he believes that their positions will harm the United States. It's a perfectly appropriate thing to say, to have an intense debate about these things. He's a strong leader. Everybody knows that. He broke a lot of eggs in making the omelets in New York, and he got a lot of results.
COLMES: But you're not really debating the issues. When you call Democrats, as some have done, Defeatocrats. Or Dick Cheney, in the run-up to the last election, said vote for the other guy, we're likely to get nuked again.
This kind of rhetoric does nothing but divide America. It makes us not come together as a country. It calls the other guy someone who's weak, and it's not a real honest debate on the issue.
BENNETT: All right. Let's have a debate on the issues. I just rattled off issues. You shifted from Giuliani to Cheney.
What Cheney said the other day, Alan, was he took issue with Reid's position. He pointed out that Reid's current position is very different from his position in February, which is very different from the position in October. That was an argument about incoherence. Perfectly reasonable way to make an argument.
What was Reid's response? Reid's response was he's a hatchet man for the administration. You know, he has a 9 percent approval rating. That was the ad hominem.
It seems to me that it's perfectly fine and on the high road to talk about a person's incoherent position and what results might come from adopting that position. I think in that exchange between Cheney and Reid, all the ad hominem was on the side of Reid and the merits were all on the side of Cheney.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Bill, by the way, I love the book. Welcome back to the program.
BENNETT: Thank you. Thank you.
HANNITY: If Alan and Barack Obama and Hillary and John Edwards are going to be angry over the rhetoric, well, it's Harry Reid that said we lost the war.
HANNITY: Let's just — let's stand back here for a second. This is all Rudy said. He said if the Democrats are elected, if one of them gets elected, we're going to go on defense. What's so bad about that? We will wave the white flag in Iraq. That's what Democrats want to do. They want to surrender.
We'll cut back on Patriot Act. Electronic surveillance. Interrogation. Get back to a pre-9/11 mentality. Where...
BENNETT: Yes. These are all positions. These are all positions Democrats have taken. They had hearings on national surveillance. They've had hearings on Guantanamo. We know what they think about the interrogation business. These are all legitimate issues of debate.
And by the way, I think there should be debate on both sides, and it should be strong. It should be pretty much no holds barred. But I think it should be on the merits on these issues and not, you know, not the name calling that Reid was doing on Cheney.
Again, if you read Cheney's statement, it's about the inarticulate quality of Reid's position that you can't make any sense of it. That's an argument about a person's view and why it doesn't add up.
HANNITY: How — how destructive is what Harry Reid said about the war being lost, in your view?
BENNETT: Well, I think — I think Petraeus had this pretty good, as did a couple of soldiers who said, you know, we're trying — the Democrats say on the one hand you can't win this militarily. You need public opinion on your side and you need people to take up for the side of freedom and democracy.
And then you tell the people over there the war is lost, leading them to believe that we'll be leaving, at which point they're going to look for the strongest — the strongest force. It's totally, totally cuts the legs out of any kind of constructive possibilities, it seems to me. Now, in fairness to most Democrats...
HANNITY: Let's not be fair to Democrats.
BENNETT: ... most Democrats abandoned Reid. All right. OK.
HANNITY: No, I'm teasing.
I love what Lindsey Graham said. I want to read it to you. He said, "If the war is lost." And he said this asking this of Harry Reid. "If the war is lost," he said, you know, "who won? Was it Al Qaeda? Was it the — was it Iran? Was the Sunni insurgents? The Shia insurgents?"
And nobody wants to ask Reid that question. If we lost, then I guess there had to be a winner, right?
BENNETT: Yes. No, there absolutely had to be a winner. Again, he's had to back off from it. And that at least suggests there's some vestige of common sense in the Democratic Party.
But what's going to happen with this Bill? That's the business at hand. You just did a FOX News alert the House passed it. It's going to pass by the Senate tomorrow. The president is going to veto this Bill. Then what's the next round? That's a really critical question.
HANNITY: We continue now with former education secretary, author of a great new book, "America: The Last Best Hope". Bill Bennett is back with us.
BENNETT: Thank you.
HANNITY: All right. Here are the latest numbers, Bill. Barack Obama has caught Hillary. It's 32-32. I thought this was supposed to be a coronation. What happened? And how come Barack Obama is doing so well? Why is Hillary not doing that well?
BENNETT: Yes. Barack Obama is exciting; Hillary isn't. In my book I talked about Gerry Ford, I think fairly. But of Ford you could say the applause was louder when he came into the room than when he left. And that's the situation with Hillary.
With Obama, it is loud when he comes in, and it's loud and sometimes louder when he leaves. He's exciting. She's been around a long time. We remember those earlier two terms of her husband. And you know, she just — she's not interesting. And she's not exciting. And Obama is. He's lighting them up.
So we'll see. They'll have this debate tomorrow night. We'll see what happens there.
HANNITY: Rudy Giuliani, we've been talking about earlier. He beats Hillary in Pennsylvania, in New Jersey, in Florida. Some conservatives have been a little upset over some of the positions on abortion, et cetera. But it's certainly not impacting his numbers in any way. Why do you think that is and who are you supporting?
BENNETT: Because he's a strong, he's a leader. I can't support anybody. I'm just a radio talk show host, you know. I've got to be nice to all the guys, all the gals.
Look, I like him very much. But I like — I think we have a very strong bench. And I think they have two strong candidates, in my view, in Obama and — and Richardson. Two — one very exciting guy and one fairly solid guy.
I think — I don't — I have my doubts about Hillary. But Giuliani is seen as a leader.
My audience, my radio audience, Sean, conservatives, center right, they like Giuliani because he's a leader because of what he did in New York. And there are four or five positions, which do not parse with them. But many — many, not all, but many are prepared to forgive him for those positions because of the war on terror.
But I think McCain, don't count McCain out. His statement today in New Hampshire was one of the best things I've heard in public rhetoric in a good long time.
HANNITY: I agree. And I interviewed him earlier today. What happens though this race if either Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich gets into this race?
BENNETT: Well, I think Fred really is the electric bolt here. It's funny how the electricity has kind of passed to the expectation of Newt as to the expectation of Fred Thompson.
The last poll I saw had Thompson at 17 percent and he's not in, you know. So I think he's an exciting — he's a lightning rod. He could change the shape of this thing.
HANNITY: All right. Now listen, I read a good part of your book, and it goes — this is part — this is volume two.
HANNITY: And it goes through the history. One of the things that it really reminded me of, you take on past conflicts and past battles and past wars. And one of the things it really reminded me of is how similar things are today in terms of people that would oppose battling evil in their time.
HANNITY: Explain that in terms of history.
BENNETT: Let's — I think the game here is Vietnam. I think that's what Democrats are up to. I say this not — you know, not just to score points, Alan. I think on the merits.
Democrats are trying to say this is Vietnam. They are acting as if it is. They are calling Bush Nixon. I saw Biden did that the other day. Nixon was a very weakened president. And they are trying to make as many parallels as they can.
There are, unfortunately, some parallels. There are also some big differences. But let's remember the most important history lesson, because this is what the game is really all about.
You know, in '73 we pulled the support of our troops out. In '74 we cut support for other people fighting. And we were gone in '75. Dodd Frasier is now — the role is being played by Jack Murtha. Teddy Kennedy, the role is being played by Teddy Kennedy. And look what happened.
COLMES: I'm glad we got out of Vietnam when we did. Anyway, let me ask you this.
BENNETT: Listen, it was a terrible thing to leave. The United States was in retreat for years. The Soviets gained enormously on us. We cannot do this again, Alan.
COLMES: And Vietnam did not fall into the hands of communists. They didn't start attacking us to the shores of San Francisco, as we were told.
BENNETT: They didn't? They didn't?
COLMES: Just like we were told with Iraq, if you leave Iraq, they're going to come over here and attack us. Did they come from Vietnam to attack us?
BENNETT: It didn't — it didn't fall into the hands of the communists? We'll leave it at that.
COLMES: Is Vietnam now a capitalist country?
BENNETT: It's got some capitalism going, yes, absolutely. But do you want to do the body count after we left?
COLMES: What would the body count been if we had stayed in Vietnam? We had tens of thousands of Americans dying.
BENNETT: Mattaf. Sirah Mattaf. Kissinger wrote him and said we will get you out.
He said, "I cannot believe that you would abandon a country that has chosen freedom. If I die, I die because I made the mistake of believing you."
You know what Hafez Assad said, the president of Syria? He said, "You abandoned them in southeast Asia." This was after Saigon. "You'll abandon them in Taiwan. And when you abandon them in Israel, we will be there."
A great country cannot withdraw.
COLMES: We didn't abandon Israel...
BENNETT: No, we haven't. No, we haven't.
COLMES: You talk often about morality. We just had two people testify before Congress yesterday, Pat Tillman's brother Kevin and Jessica Lynch. Both of them said their families were lied to. They were lied about. The death of Pat Tillman was a made-up story because they didn't want to talk about fratricide.
Is that appropriate? And is that a moral failing on the part of our government that couldn't tell about these American heroes?
BENNETT: I want to see the full story. I know these are the accounts. I want to see the full story. I read in "USA Today" a lengthy account today that said they were given the truth after five weeks. That's not that horrible long a time given the situation.
They were lied to. They were lied to. They certainly should not have been. But I do understand why people want to present people who sacrifice for this country in the best light possible.
When the evidence suggests there was friendly fire...
COLMES: They lied.
BENNETT: ... then you've got to tell the truth. The truth — the truth of American history is the thing we have to stress.
HANNITY: It's a great history book. Bill, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.
BENNETT: Thanks, guys.
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