This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 15, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And today's bombshell announcement from Evan Bayh that he will not be seeking reelection was preceded just days before by a stunner from Congressman Patrick Kennedy. Now, the eight-term Rhode Island congressman announced last week that he has decided to step away from public office and not run again in 2010.
Now Kennedy joins a slew of other Democrats who are running scared ahead of these midterm election.
And tonight, I am joined by the man who was set to take on Patrick Kennedy in that election. And he could very well prove to be, well, the next elected congressman from the great state of Rhode Island and follow Scott Brown's lead in Massachusetts. Republican candidate John Loughlin joins us in the studio.
Congressman to be, are you confident?
CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE JOHN LOUGHLIN, R-R.I.: Yes.
HANNITY: I lived in Rhode Island five years. It's a tough state.
LOUGHLIN: It's well known that you lived there. In fact, you were in Warren.
HANNITY: It's well known that I was living...
LOUGHLIN: Absolutely, yes.
HANNITY: You know, it's — I'll tell you one quick funny story. So I got fired in 40 hours from a radio station in California, you know, threw me right off the air. And now they — now they say Sean Hannity started here. I'm like, well, "Where were you when I needed you?"
Well, welcome aboard.
LOUGHLIN: Thank you.
HANNITY: Do you think he's afraid? Is the reason he got out he's afraid to run?
LOUGHLIN: Well, I mean, he cited personal reasons that he got out. And I certainly have to take him at his word.
But you know, I think he realized that this whole Congress, this whole Nancy Pelosi Congress has shifted what from the priorities that are important to Rhode Islanders, specifically creating jobs and growing a real economy. And that had to weigh in on the decision. They had to make him realize it was going to be very, very difficult for him to stay in for re-election.
HANNITY: Are people, were they fed up a little bit — but look, and I only wish him well. Bob Beckel is going to be here —
LOUGHLIN: Yes, we all do.
HANNITY: But — but if somebody is having that many personal issues, do they owe it to the public that they're supposed to serve that they step aside, get their act together, and then maybe come back?
LOUGHLIN: Well, I think in this case it was more the economic climate that Rhode Islanders face every day. I mean, we've got almost 13 percent unemployment. We've got record foreclosures. Families are cutting back. You know, they've got less hours at work.
And I think people realize that what was happening in Washington at a time when we needed jobs was not consistent with our ability to grow an economy and create a vibrant place for us to live.
HANNITY: I was talking about this with Michelle Bachmann. Guy calls my radio show today. And he says, "I don't know if I can trust the Republicans." Did the Republicans lose trust?
LOUGHLIN: I think so. I think to a great extent. I think both parties have.
HANNITY: Where did the Republicans blow it?
LOUGHLIN: Well, I think in many respects the spending that we've seen prior to this current administration was excessive. But this administration has taken it to a new level. I mean, this is excessive spending on steroids. And if we keep going in the direction that we're going, borrowing and spending, I worry about what kind of future my children and the children of the people in this district are going to have.
HANNITY: It's no doubt we're robbing from our kids and grandkids. But it — what should the Republican Party have learned? Because I have very strong views on this. What do you think they should have learned?
LOUGHLIN: I think they should have learned that we need to control spending first. And that if we can control spending and cut taxes, that we can grow an economy. And that we need a smaller government not a bigger government. And I think that they've got to do everything in their power to make sure that they live up to that promise of smaller government, more responsive and lower taxes.
HANNITY: Is it time for a new Contract with America? Should elections like yours be nationalized?
LOUGHLIN: I don't know that that's necessarily the case. You know, I look at the families in the 1st Congressional District and what they struggle with every day. And I think that those are the people that really need to have a contract, that those are the people that need to stand that Congress is there to represent them.
HANNITY: But the point is, I think people want — I think people want promises. I think they want to know...
LOUGHLIN: I think they want promises that are kept.
HANNITY: For example, will you promise you're not going to vote for a tax increase?
HANNITY: Will you promise...
LOUGHLIN: I signed Grover Norquist's tax pledge.
HANNITY: And it's a good pledge. Will you promise not to accept earmarks?
LOUGHLIN: Absolutely, yes.
HANNITY: Where — is there any area where you might be more liberal?
LOUGHLIN: Any — more liberal than what? Than my predecessor in the 1st Congressional District? The answer to that is pretty well-known.
HANNITY: Do you ever find yourself in agreement with Nancy Pelosi?
LOUGHLIN: No. Never. Not that I can think of, no.
HANNITY: Do you think — do you think social issues are still a big deal? Issues like defining marriage and abortion? Are those issues significant? You know, Rhode Island is a pretty liberal state.
LOUGHLIN: It is. Yes, there's significant issues. But I think obviously, the economy is the most significant issue, and that's where we need to put our focus. If we don't grow this economy, we're not going to be able to have social issues to worry about.
HANNITY: The economy and national security.
HANNITY: All right. Now you've got this guy. Now, when I was in Rhode Island, and my favorite restaurant is there. The Black Pearl has the best clam chowder in the world. Healy, remember that guy? Does he still have long hair?
LOUGHLIN: He does.
HANNITY: He does. And he's running for lieutenant governor. OK. And now I like his platform. I may actually come out and endorse him. No, no, he is running that, if he gets elected he will eliminate the office.
HANNITY: You know what I think might be a good idea for somebody to run on? Tell me if you think — I think this may capture the mood of the country. If somebody runs and says, "I'm going to Washington, and I'm doing nothing," they might actually win.
LOUGHLIN: They might, indeed. And in many cases that would be better than what we have now.
HANNITY: Yes. Well, no, I agree. Do you think Barack Obama is a failure?
LOUGHLIN: It's — I wouldn't go so far as to say he's a total failure at this point. I think many of his policies have been the wrong policies at the wrong time. And I think that this emphasis on health care above all else, and cap-and-trade and all the other things that we've seen pushed through are just misplaced. We need to concentrate on growing our economy.
HANNITY: Are there any areas where you differentiate yourself from the national Republican Party? That you find yourself — for example, Scott Brown, I thought he ran on a good platform: the 41st vote against — against health care. His position on national security, his position on taxes. I thought they were pretty solid positions.
HANNITY: But the issues on the environment when he was in the legislature, he was a little bit more liberal. Any areas?
LOUGHLIN: You know, I think that, maybe on a couple of social issues, I might be slightly — I favor you know, contractual marriage. I favor not necessarily gay marriage but...
HANNITY: What do you mean by contractual marriage?
LOUGHLIN: Civil unions, I think, are — and that's not something that I think the national Republican Party embraces.
HANNITY: All right. Well, we wish you the best of luck. We're following all the races around the country. We're going to try and meet a lot of candidates like yourself and keep the electorate as informed as possible. Wish you all the best.
LOUGHLIN: Thank you very much.
HANNITY: Thank you. Tell our friends at the Black Pearl I said hi.
LOUGHLIN: I will. Thank you.
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