This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 25, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight in "Your America," the liberal media is doing its part to spread the Democratic Party's theory that Republicans are somehow to blame for the threats against members of Congress in the aftermath of the health care vote.
And as usual the left is trying to point the finger at former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, saying that comments that she made about targeting certain members in Congress in the 2010 midterms could incite violence.
Now they also took offense to this Twitter message which reads, quote, "Common sense conservatives and lovers of America: Don't retreat, instead reload."
Senator John McCain was asked about the governor's comments earlier this morning on the "Today" show. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN CURRY, "TODAY" SHOW: Considering these threat, these concerns, that we've been hearing about regarding violence, do you think — do you now recommend that your party use less incendiary language? And will you say that to her tomorrow?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Ann, I have seen the rhetoric of targeted districts as long as I've in politics. Please.
CURRY: Those are not my words.
MCCAIN: That's just language —
CURRY: Those are her words.
MCCAIN: Those are fine. We — they're used all the time. Those words have been used throughout my political career.
CURRY: But should they be perhaps —
MCCAIN: There are targeted districts —
CURRY: Sorry for interrupting, Senator.
MCCAIN: There are targeted districts and there are areas that we call battleground states. And — so please. That rhetoric and kind of language is just part of the political lexicon. It is no place for threats of violence or anything else but to say that someone is in a battleground state is not originated today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: And joining me now with more on this is the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele is with us.
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Hey, Sean.
HANNITY: We hear the term targeted districts all the time.
STEELE: All the time.
HANNITY: What do you think is going on here?
STEELE: Well, I think there's a couple of things. The left is trying to block and tackle on the vote that they just took knowing that America is still very displeased with them, and taking anything that they can and turning it around.
Now, look, there are two points here. One, John McCain has it exactly right. This is language that's been used in the political spear for generations. And everybody knows what you mean when you say it.
Number two, you do have some folks out there that are hot tempered and stupid, quite frankly. And that has no place in the political rhetoric or lexicon, if you will.
And so to the extent that people go out and say crazy things as we witnessed this past weekend, the Republican Party, Democrat Party, good-minded Americans alike —
HANNITY: Yes, well —
STEELE: … renounce that. But don't try to mix the apple and the orange here, when — you know, particularly when you go back and look at the hot language that's fueled, that was used on the Bush administration and certainly in the last two or three years of the administration there were all kinds of very threatening tones and language used there. So, you know, I think people just need to understand it and put it in context.
HANNITY: Well, in this context, too, when you say reload, well, that is based — predicated on the belief that you had loaded before. In other words, you gave your best political effort. That didn't work.
HANNITY: We re-group. We come back again.
HANNITY: Everybody knew what that mean — everyone knows what that means. But they are trying to exploit this and trying to make an issue out of this.
Do you remember back in 1998, the Democratic Party in Missouri ran a radio ad where they said if you elect Republicans, black churches would burn? You have —
STEELE: Burn. That's right. Right.
HANNITY: Yes. Remember that? I mean —
STEELE: In fact, not only —
HANNITY: Go ahead.
STEELE: In '98 in my home state of Maryland, Prince George's County, they actually handed out fliers that actually — you know, had pictures of the burning churches of the 1950s and '60s, and of course inferred that, you know, if you elect a Republican that, you know, churches would burn.
That kind of rhetoric is outside the bounds.
Now let me say this. You know, I look America in the eye tonight and I say look, we're on the heels of a very important debate about the direction of this country. Let's have a very civil debate, both Democrats, Republicans, independents and others, who have a voice that they want to share.
Share that voice. But let's not take this to a place it doesn't need to go. This is a free and open country where you can freely express your views. And so we don't need folks on the left defining and re-characterizing political rhetoric.
HANNITY: Well —
STEELE: But we certainly don't need others to use this time to do ugly things to threaten elected officials and the like. So let's be civil and level headed about this debate.
HANNITY: You know, when George Bush was president, you know, basically was called a murder, the war is lost.
HANNITY: The surge has failed, they're terrorizing women and children in the dark of night. That came from John Kerry.
STEELE: That was just the presidential nominee.
HANNITY: They killed civilians in cold blood was John Murtha's comments.
What bothers me here is just the outright hypocrisy in all this. All of a sudden, the language, anything was — everything is game during the Bush years. Now all of a sudden everything is off-limits.
Everybody wants our politicians safe. They represent we the people.
HANNITY: Starting with the president every elected official on down. And when James Clyburn goes out there and he says Republicans are basically aiding and abetting terrorism against Democrats, what was your reaction to his statement earlier today?
STEELE: Well, James — you know, with all due respect to Congressman Clyburn, he's just flat wrong. And he's not aiding and abetting the ending of such discussion, he's furthering it by inciting — you know discord among citizens by pointing the finger at someone.
He doesn't know if the person who is holding a Nazi sign or said something ugly, is a Democrat or a libertarian or a Republican. He doesn't know who they are. What he should be saying is there's no place for that kind of rhetoric or behavior in the political discourse and to stop it.
But then to start, you know, saying well, Republicans — you know is part of their playbook. It's just ludicrous and certainly, you know, I reject it outright. That behavior —
HANNITY: Everybody —
STEELE: I hope he joins with me in rejecting it.
HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you this, there's a Quinnipiac poll that came out and the headline is Tea Party could doom the GOP in November. And they — for example, when you add Tea Party candidates into the mix with a Democrat and a Republican, the Tea Party candidate would get 15 percent, the GOP 25 percent, Democrat 36 percent.
They say it would be a GOP nightmare, according to this, or a Republican dream. What is your reaction to the idea?
STEELE: Well, look, you know —
HANNITY: Go ahead.
STEELE: The reality of it is I think the GOP — Republicans and certainly conservatives — will partner with the Tea Party movement around this country. As I've said with the leadership that I've met with since April of last year, if the Tea Party candidate is a nominee against a Democrat, we'll back them.
You know they're good, solid, fiscal conservatives. We'll back them. And likely — likewise that they — you know, we'll support the Republican nominee against a Democrat.
We don't need to allow any more Nancy Pelosies to wind up in Congress.
STEELE: I mean I've called for Nancy Pelosi to be fired and the way we do that is to elect —
HANNITY: So have I.
STEELE: — good conservatives to the Congress.
HANNITY: Yes. Well, I saw you the other night when I was speaking at the NRCC dinner. And I think a new conservative Republican Party is the answer. And obviously this is an opportunity for bold differences between two parties. And this is going to be a fascinating midterm election year.
STEELE: It is — it is Sean. And again I invite people to go to FireNancyPelosi.com and help me get the job done this November.
HANNITY: All right, Michael Steele. Thanks for being with us.
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