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Hannity

Robert Novak on Controversial Column

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," November 21, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Despite a recent surge in the polls, is there a bump in the road ahead for presidential candidate Barack Obama? According to a recent article by Robert Novak, the Clinton camp may be withholding a secret that could sink the Illinois senator's campaign.

Joining us now, syndicated columnist and FOX News contributor Robert Novak.

Bob, thank you for coming back on the show.

ROBERT NOVAK, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: My pleasure.

COLMES: I just want to make sure I understand what you said, that you have no personal knowledge that there's any scandalous information.

NOVAK: Absolutely not.

COLMES: And you don't have — is that true?

NOVAK: That's true.

COLMES: And you have no direct verification from anybody in the Clinton camp.

NOVAK: That's correct. But I have a Democratic source I've used for years. Absolute veracity. He was told by the Clinton camp that they have a scandal that they're not going to use, because they're good party people.

Since then, I have had substantiation from another source, another very, very good sources who, with his own ears, heard Clinton people putting out, this one giving specific information about Obama that he said it was all very insubstantial and un-cooperated.

But the story is that they had been threatening to smear and smearing Obama for some time.

COLMES: So you have any idea what the smear is?

NOVAK: No, I don't.

I do have some idea in the second — the second source of what they said, but I'm not going to repeat it, because unsubstantiated, and there would be — I certainly am not going to spread it.

COLMES: I want to ask you for a second here about Scott McClellan, whose book is coming out. And as you know, some news broke in the last day or so where he said he unknowingly passed along false information.

And he said five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in his doing so. And he named Rove, Libby, the vice president, the vice president chief of staff, the president himself.

Is Scott McClellan basically saying they set him up?

NOVAK: I have no idea what that's about. I've never used Scot McClellan as a source. And so I don't even know what he's talking about.

COLMES: I mean, isn't he really saying, basically the White House put him out there, hung him out to dry? Knowingly let him say things that were false?

NOVAK: I don't know. I don't think you called me in to talk about something I don't even know anything about, did you?

COLMES: I'm just curious because of your part about...

NOVAK: I don't know what you're talking about. I mean, are you talking about the Valerie Plame story?

COLMES: Yes.

NOVAK: That didn't come from any of those people. It came from the deputy chief — deputy secretary of state. I'm talking — you're asking me the questions.

COLMES: Yes.

NOVAK: And that came from Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state. Don't you read the papers?

COLMES: We've talked about this, Mr. Novak. I'm aware of where it came from. I'm getting your reaction to some breaking news.

NOVAK: I don't know. I gave you my reaction: I don't know anything about that. I didn't get information from any of those people.

COLMES: I understand. Do you agree with Joe Klein, who in commenting on the story we were just talking about, says that journalists are continually bombarded, he says, with rumors, often scurrilous and that they're not news.

Rumors only become news when they're confirmed, cross-checked and responded to by the target of the attack. And I guess he questions whether you should have really gone to press with that information, based on that information.

NOVAK: I know that when — that there are people from the Clinton campaign — I'm absolutely confident— who were threatening, saying that they had derogatory — not threatening but saying they had derogatory information about Senator Obama that has been confirmed by another source.

The idea that you have to go to the Clinton people and say, "Are you really pulling off this dirty trick?" We wrote about dirty tricks with Nixon for years without getting it confirmed by the Nixon campaign.

I don't think — I think Mr. Klein ought to worry more about the Clinton campaign than worry about how his journalistic colleagues are functioning.

RICH LOWRY, GUEST HOST: Hey, Bob, it's Rich Lowry. Thanks so much for being with us tonight.

Bob, let's just take a step back. Where do you see this Democratic race at the moment? How vulnerable is Hillary Clinton?

NOVAK: I think she's very vulnerable. I think that the — the Las Vegas debate on CNN where the talking heads said she did such a wonderful job, I don't think she came over that wonderful, and I don't think she comes over that wonderful to the public.

I think they are worried right now, and I think they're worried about Obama catching her in Iowa. She has an enormous lead in the national polls, but that's a lagging indicator in presidential races.

And if Obama wins in Ohio — I'm sorry, in Iowa, the whole thing may come undone. So therefore, I think this material that was never supposed to be published, which I published and that's why it was valuable, indicates just how worried they are about Obama.

LOWRY: And Bob, really quickly. I have about a minute left.

If Hillary keeps up this drumbeat that's apparently started on Obama - - she seems to be taking shots at him every dad — is that — does that risking driving up her negatives, that are already pretty high?

NOVAK: Absolutely. And the whole point that was given, why she wasn't telling this alleged scandal she had on Obama is she didn't want to get in the position as Gephardt and Howard Dean did four years ago, where they attacked each other. And John Kerry stepped in between them.

So I think when you have attacks on each other, it drives up the negatives. I think it's a danger for Obama when he attacks Mrs. Clinton.

LOWRY: So is there any potential opening for Edwards there?

NOVAK: He's so — I'm — he's so disagreeable to so many people. I don't see how he can sneak in.

LOWRY: You're being very generous. I think we caught you in a generous mood at the end of this segment, Bob.

NOVAK: Happy Thanksgiving.

COLMES: Give me some of that generosity.

LOWRY: Happy Thanksgiving, bob. Thanks for being with us.

NOVAK: Same to you.

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