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Hannity

GOP Newcomer Ron Johnson Putting Pressure on Incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 24, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

LIZ CHENEY, GUEST HOST: There are only 70 days left before the midterms, and tonight, we are monitoring some of the key primary races from around the country. The outcome of these contests will set the stage for election day this November.

One race in particular could help decide, which party controls the Senate come January. In Wisconsin, incumbent Democratic Senator Russ Feingold is fighting for his political life, battling it out against businessman Ron Johnson.

In a moment, we'll be joined live by Mr. Johnson, but first let's take a look at his brand new campaign ad that is capturing a lot of people's attention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Introducing the Ron Johnson family.

CAREY: He's a really super dad.

BEN: He's a great role model.

JENNY: He's worked extremely hard all his life.

JANE: A wonderful husband for 33 years.

SENATE CANDIDATE RON JOHNSON, R-WISC.: OK, that's enough. Obviously, I 'm not a professional politician and they're not professional actors. We are just a Wisconsin family worried about our country. I'm Ron Johnson and I approve this message because it is time to get our nation's house in order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: So can this Washington outsider upset Senator Feingold in November? Let's ask him. Republican Senate candidate from the great state of Wisconsin, Ron Johnson joins me now from Milwaukee.

Welcome, wonderful to have you, Ron. I have to say, as the daughter of a career politician, I'm not sure how to take that ad, but I did appreciate it. I thought it was very funny.

JOHNSON: Oops. Well, hello, Liz. It's good to be on the program.

CHENEY: Listen, you -- this is the first time you have run for office, you're new to politics and yet you're running really head-to-head with Russ Feingold who's been in the Senate now for almost 18 years. Are you surprised at how well you're doing and how close this race is?

JOHNSON: Well, not really. I mean, if you really take a look at what the differences between myself and Senator Feingold, you've got a 30-year career politician, versus somebody like myself whose got 31 years in the private sector producing products, exporting products and creating real jobs.

I think people are really fed up with what is happening in Washington and they're really hungering for, you know, a citizen legislator, you know, somebody that has a lifetime of experience. You know, has raised a family, has had a full career and you know, takes that body of experience to Washington and to address the nation's problems.

CHENEY: Yes, I know, I think that's exactly right. I've been struck this time around at how many politicians out there, how many liberals are trying to pretend to be conservatives.

I know your opponent Senator Feingold, for example, pretends to be a fiscal hawk while he voted for the stimulus, while he voted for health care reform. Pretends to be strong on the second amendment, but voted for two Supreme Court justices who oppose gun rights. Do you think that the people of Wisconsin will buy that this time around?

JOHNSON: Well, he always has like to portray himself as a maverick, but I tell you what. Wisconsin and America could have used a maverick back on Christmas Eve in 2009 and back in February of 2009 when he was the 60th vote for the health care bill and also for the stimulus bill that simply hasn't worked.

So, you know, certainly from my standpoint, from the standpoint of the second amendment as well, Senator Feingold has voted for every justice that would oppose individual gun rights.

I would be voting for justices like Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts, you know, the folks that actually voted for individual gun rights.

So I think the mask is off Senator Feingold. People realized he's not the maverick he claims to be.

CHENEY: Well, and as someone who, as you said, has been a successful businessman for 31 years, what do you think it is going to take for the private sector in this country to get the confidence that they need to make investments, to begin hire people? What kind of policies are you going to push for if you're elected to represent the people of Wisconsin?

JOHNSON: Sure, well, first of all, we've to get spending and debt under control. I mean, this is simply unsustainable. People across America, across Wisconsin realize that we just can't keep going down this road.

But, you know, the other thing, as every day goes by, certainly I 'm more and more convinced that the problem that we've got is there is such a high level of uncertainty. You know, the fact that we passed a health care bill that quite honestly nobody understands, that the employers have no idea what the cost is going to be, that produces a high level of uncertainty.

Then they passed a financial regulation bill, 2,300 pages more pages of regulation than in the entire history of America in terms of financial regulation.

Again, people don't know what that's going to mean and there's going to be thousands of pages yet to be written on that as well so that creates a high level of uncertainty.

Then, now what are they doing? They're threatening a tax increase for 2011. They're talking about possibly passing cap and trade as well as possibly card check. So there's such a high level of uncertainty in this economy that people -- consumers are standing on the sidelines and businesses are standing on the sidelines unwilling to invest, unwilling to create jobs.

So if you can wave a magic wand, what you'd like to do is just wipe off the Obama agenda and start over. Bring certainty back to this economy.

CHENEY: Yes, and if you look at foreign policy as well, Ron, you see very clearly I think in the last few weeks this administration working very hard now to try to claim credit for the end to combat operations in Iraq.

When both the president and vice president, in fact, voted against the surge, which was though necessary to get to the point where we are able to begin to withdraw our combat troops.

What is your sense of how this president has been as a war leader? Is this a man who knows how to fight and win wars?

JOHNSON: Well, you know, I really hate to be an armchair general, but, for example, in Afghanistan, it was extremely disappointing when he announces a surge in the next sentence he says we'll start withdrawing troops in 16 months.

To me the Taliban strategy was immediate. They're going to start their surge 16 months and one day. Particularly in a conflict like Afghanistan where you need to win the confidence of the Afghan villagers and people of Afghanistan because let's face it, the Taliban are brutal.

So those folks need to have the confidence that you are there and you are committed to success and victory and this president simply did not give the people of Afghanistan that confidence.

CHENEY: Well, listen, thank you so much, Ron, for being here with us. We'll all be watching very closely your election campaign over the next 70 days. Good luck to you.

JOHNSON: Thanks for having me.

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