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Hannity

How GOP Can Capitalize on Democrats' Health Care Reform Battle

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 11, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Saturday's vote on the health care bill demonstrated that the issue has actually sparked an internal war in the Democratic Party. Now party bosses are struggling to get more moderate Democrats — you know, the guys that want to stay in office after the 2010 elections — on board with their radical agenda.

So does this present an opportunity for Republicans to capitalize come midterm elections?

Joining me with the answers is the president of the Word Doctors and the Word Doctor's Group, the author of "What Americans Really Want... Really" Frank Luntz.

How are you? Good to see you.

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: My pleasure. Thank you.

Video: Watch Sean's interview

HANNITY: This — it will be defining issue. That and unemployment and the economy in 2010. No doubt.

LUNTZ: And spending.

HANNITY: And maybe terrorism, too. I mean, with this terror attack.

LUNTZ: Everyone is forgetting, this is a trillion-dollar piece of legislation. It's 1,190 pages tall. It's about this high off the ground. It is loaded with bombs just waiting to go off. And in the end, as much as this is an opportunity for Republicans, you've got to look at it as an American.

And you look at it and say this is not what the American people want. They do want some sort of coverage. They want to make sure that people aren't left without it. And they do want to ensure that they don't get stuck with preexisting conditions.

And, in fact, we tested an ad on this. And the higher that the lines climb, the more favorable the response. Watch the right side of the screen. This is the single best ad in favor of the health care reform.

HANNITY: Let's roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUNTZ: The Democrats in Congress created a trillion-dollar health care bureaucracy last year. It's now a year later. So tell me. Are your premiums any less today than they were a year ago? Is your health care quality any better than it was a year ago? Did your taxes go down or your benefits go up in the past year?

Did the Democrats even let you read the legislation? Sure, the Democrats gave America the single biggest government bureaucracy in the history of this country, but what exactly did they give you?

Remember that on Tax Day and send them a message on Election Day. I'm Frank Luntz. And I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Now by the way, that wasn't the one we were talking about. But that's an ad that you did that you think is going to be run come election time?

LUNTZ: Correct, because it deals with the cost. It deals with the fact that no one is going to feel any change next year.

HANNITY: Are you running for office, Frank?

LUNTZ: Never. Because nobody would ever vote for me.

HANNITY: I just want to know all the deep dark secrets in your past, but anyway go ahead.

LUNTZ: This tragedy is, I actually have none. That's what.

HANNITY: You and me both.

LUNTZ: That's what is disappointing. Well, the public sees this and they are looking for common sense approach. If we have the Democratic ad, I do want to play it. We don't have it?

HANNITY: No.

LUNTZ: It talks about women and preexisting conditions. And it is something that has upset even female Republicans. But in the end, support for health care right now is down to 40 percent.

HANNITY: But let's go to this internal battle within the Democratic Party. I mean, you've got — in the House you've got this battle over abortion that was unfolding before the nation. And you've got now 40 Democrats, or around 40, saying that if the abortion provision is included, they are not going to vote for it and vice versa.

And in the Senate you've got battle going on about just even having the government option. Then you've got some Democrats saying the government option is in. I'm out. If it's not in, I'm out.

LUNTZ: And no one has even seen the legislation. In the polling that we have done, the American people, more than anything else, the second highest priority is to have members of Congress actually read the legislation that they are voting on.

It seems to make sense. But they don't. The number one priority is to give Americans themselves the chance to read the legislation. How do you read 2,000 pages in four days?

HANNITY: You can't. You can't. This is a point Nancy Pelosi — we have shown the tape — is on tape saying that they would have that kind of transparency. The president said the exact same thing, too.

Here is the question. What is the impact going to be a year from now? Will people — the American people are angry. People showing up at town halls and tea parties. People that have had their character assassinated by the Democratic establishment. Are they going to be as fully engaged come November a year from now?

LUNTZ: Hell hath no furry like a voter scorned. And the anger and the hot — the heat is actually in the center. Not even on the right. It's independents.

HANNITY: Independents.

LUNTZ: Independent conservatives who reject both political parties who voted Democrat for the House by about 52-48. In this last election they voted Republican over Democrat for governor by almost 2 to 1.

HANNITY: Is there any chance the Republicans get, what is it, the 41 seats that they would need to take back the House? Is there a chance?

LUNTZ: I was around in 1994. I was involved in 1994.

HANNITY: Is there a chance?

LUNTZ: A very, very small one.

HANNITY: I disagree with you. I think this could — and I'll tell you why. I think what we saw was a political earthquake a week ago today. I think there's a chance that this thing is going to get — if they ram this down the American people's throat, if unemployment remains anywhere near 10 percent, there's no way, with Congress at a 21 percent approval rating.

LUNTZ: Here is the problem. They're going to have to — the public is going to have to say, "I blame the Democrats for this. I blame the Democrats and the House of Democrats."

HANNITY: Who else can they blame? They have Democrats in control of everything.

LUNTZ: If you have independent candidates running, and they take away some of the votes from the right wing.

HANNITY: It didn't work in New Jersey.

LUNTZ: It didn't work in New Jersey. We saw what happened in New York when they nominated stupid candidates. So the question for the Republican Party is do you nominate someone with the grassroots support? And the question for the people who are really angry in the center, are you going to vote for a protest or are you going to vote to make a difference? We can't predict that right now.

HANNITY: I think the American people, they're most concerned about the debt, the deficit, and the government taking control of every aspect of their life. And I think more Americans are waking up to what I had said from the beginning that Obama is a radical ideologue. No pragmatic side.

LUNTZ: But in the end, it's going to have to be a vote against Congress. And I'll tell you one thing as a way to close the segment. If these senators and congressmen refuse to hold town-hall meetings, they're going to get defeated.

HANNITY: All right. Good to see you, Frank. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

You did pretty good running for office.

— Watch "Hannity" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

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