Candidates battle for laughs at charity dinner

Panel reacts to Alfred E. Smith Memorial dinner


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 18, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: All right, we continue on "Hannity." You just saw Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama at the Alfred E. Smith dinner in New York City, which is a fun event, well known, and -- are we allowed to say who won this? I have a strong opinion. I thought Mitt Romney was much --

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST, "THE FIVE": All I was thinking is that President Obama better hope this election goes his way, because I don't think he's going to win on "Last Comic Standing." Kind of flat.

HANNITY: He did have one good line. He goes, well, governor's middle name is actually Mitt. Gee, I wish I could use his middle name. That was pretty funny.

LESLIE MARSHALL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: That was very funny. He had more than one good line. I did say during the break, I can be objective, and I didn't think his pacing and time was as good as Governor Romney's in timing and comedy --

PERINO: Also, he doesn't look like he's having fun at all. Do you remember in 2008, one of the things that happened was that they came back, said he had a terrible week on the campaign trail. They said, what's wrong with him? Meaning President Obama, at the time senator. They said, he's not having fun on the campaign trail. That's when my successor, Robert Gibbs, went out on the campaign trail. He said I'll take a week, and ended up on being the campaign trail for four months with him because it made him feel better.

HANNITY: I love the Big Bird line, 16 trillion.

RICH LOWRY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I had a couple impressions. One, it's hard not to like a politician when he's being self-deprecating. I like the middle of Obama's remarks, good stuff in there.

But I was struck by how much that first debate looms. He kept on coming back to it again and again. Romney was wittier. Also, these forums are more important for Romney. Obama is supposed to have a reputation, be this sparkling personality and great speaker.

Mitt Romney is supposed to be the robot. So when he goes out there and he's self- deprecating, talks about wearing the white tie -- that's what they wear casually around the house -- I won the debate, in preparation I didn't drink for 65 years, that's really great stuff. People aren't used to seeing Romney in that mode. So it's more valuable for him.

HANNITY: Pretty good when he said, I have Ann Romney, he has Bill Clinton.

LOWRY: That was written before today, I think.

HANNITY: Yes, probably was written before today.

PERINO: In addition to that, President Obama took some shots from Governor Romney that were very pointed, the water into wine comments. I love the 1-2 punches, water into wine, wine into water, very funny.

HANNITY: The president in his final months now, so much to do, so little time, so much to redistribute -- took a lot of shots at Joe Biden tonight.

MARSHALL: Yes. Honestly, that was very -- I found them to be funny, quite frankly. This isn't going to lead to anybody -- I bet money, nobody is going to say, I'm going to vote for that guy because he's a better comedian.

HANNITY: I think Rich nailed it, though. This was bigger, I think, in the political context. It's a fun night, for a charity, et cetera, et cetera.

We're 19 days out of a campaign. People are watching this closely. I think you're right, because there had been this caricature -- to go back to the earlier part of your analysis tonight -- and this demon, Mitt Romney, Bain Capital, rich, out of touch.

Not only did people see he was serious, smart, had good ideas, not this guy that they had painted him into a corner to be, but also self deprecating, funny, somebody that was probably pretty relatable tonight.

LOWRY: Leslie's right, no one's going to vote on this, but a couple more brushstrokes in the portrayal of Romney that's been building over the last few weeks that's very important.

PERINO: He has the wind at his back. People ask this question, can I stand this guy in my living room for the next four years? First debate, they're like oh, maybe I could. Second debate, yes. Tonight, yeah, that guy's funny I could have him in my living room for four years.

HANNITY: All right, let's go to some of the polls that have come out today. We got the new Gallup poll, 52 percent to 45 percent, Governor Romney, which is a significant margin. Once you top that 50 percent mark, as we pointed out earlier, Karl Rove had said in fact that nobody's ever lost, being at 50 percent this late in the campaign.

Then we have the Susquehanna Polling and Research. This is at Pennsylvania. Governor Romney had been within striking distance, anywhere between two and four points, but in this poll just out later tonight, 49-45, that's Governor Romney. What are we to make of that?

MARSHALL: Honestly whenever I see a poll, with the president up, whether it's national or state, or Mitt Romney is up nationally or state, I need to see more than one, OK, first of all. Second of all --

LOWRY: That's fair.

MARSHALL: Anything on a national level from where I am, left or right, I need to see that in the swing states. Right now, I'm just looking at -- I'm really looking at Ohio.

LOWRY: You always have to -- even though Gallup is the most prestigious polling company, organization in the nation, you also have to average them out.

I've heard Scott Rasmussen, our friend, we all admire him very much, say in the polls you have to look at the commonalities. For me, Sean, the key commonality in these national tracking polls, no one else has Romney at 52.

But everyone else has him right there at 46, 47, you average him out, it's 46, 47. An incumbent president at that level three weeks before an election is in a terrible predicament.

HANNITY: I agree with that. All right, let's look at -- "The Daily Show" taped a segment with President Obama today. It's not been aired, but this was released in terms of a quote that he made talking about the Benghazi Consulate, where he's actually quoted as saying, "Here's what I'll say. When four Americans get killed, it's not optimal."

American Crossroads came out with a new ad today on top of the comments that came out tonight. Watch this.


MITT ROMNEY, R-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration. Is that what you're saying?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.

GRAPHIC: If President Obama BELIEVED on 9/12 that Benghazi was a TERRORIST ATTACK... Why did he and other s BURY THAT FACT FOR TWO LONG WEEKS?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is in response to a video, a film. This is in response to a video.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON, Internet video that we had nothing to do with.

DAVID GREGORY, HOST, "MEET THE PRESS"/NBC: That was spontaneous? Was it a planned attack? Was there a terrorist element to it?

SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: This is a response to a hateful and offensive video.

CARNEY: The video and its influence on the protest that occurred in Cairo and Benghazi -- in response to this video.

It was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo that precipitated some of the arrests in Benghazi, sparked by the reaction to this video.

The video was a precipitating cause to the unrest, specifically in Libya. It might take advantage of a situation that was brought about initially as a response to the video in question.

OBAMA: Natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video.

GRAPHIC: AND THAT SAME DAY... REPORTER: "... I just hadn't heard the White House say that this was an act of TERRORISM..." JAY CARNEY: "... WE HADN'T..."

CANDY CROWLEY, DEBATE MODERATOR: You're totally correct, that they spent two weeks telling us this was about a tape, and that there was a -- you know, this riot outside the Benghazi consulate, which there wasn't.


OBAMA: Natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video.


HANNITY: What did you know, when did you know it? How powerful an ad?

PERINO: Effective. The best thing that the Romney campaign can do or American Crossroads, if you're against the current administration, is let their own words speak for themselves and let people decide what the truth was.

HANNITY: They did not say it was a terror attack until -- 14 days later -- this happened on the 11th, on the 25th, on "The View," point-blank Joy Behar asked President Obama. He said, "We don't know yet." So the president was wrong in the debate.

MARSHALL: Not what he said in the Rose Garden. Honestly, this administration, not being partisan, to me this is just being an American, I along with probably all of you, want transparency, but I want it to a degree. This is not always a time to be transparent. You don't just throw something out there that's not true. You have to investigate, you have to find out what happened --

HANNITY: Four Americans were killed, and you don't lie to the American people.

MARSHALL: I just said that.

LOWRY: Being dishonest about a terror attack in the immediate run-up to an election is a huge deal. Look, this ad is a little bit debate clean up because Romney did not make this point in the cleanest way in the debate. But it very effectively points out that if the president was really saying Benghazi was a premeditated terror attack in the Rose Garden, which he wasn't, but tried to create that impression in the debate, then why did everyone go on for two weeks saying it was a spontaneous --

PERINO: Not only that, but they arrested an American citizen for a probation violation about a video. They blamed him for deaths of four Americans. They blamed a video-maker that turns out not to be true, and turns out they knew it wasn't true.

HANNITY: Wait a minute. There's a 50-minute tape of this -- what happened this night. It's available. The State Department watched it in real time. I've confirmed tonight, I can say 100 percent that tape exists and a transcript of them is available.

Will the American people see this before the election takes place?

Let me show you one other ad before we get to that. This makes fun of the president. He likes to have a lot of fun. He's not too interested in that work part of his job. He likes golf, basketball, traveling. Watch this one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes Barack Obama seems to confuse being president with being on spring break. Since taking office, he's played more than 100 rounds of golf. While Americans struggle to find jobs and save their homes, Barack Obama was too busy playing round after round after round of golf.

He even had to be pulled off the golf course when the operation to get Usama bin Laden was underway. While gas prices have soared and our national debt has exploded, Obama seems too busy trying to be the cool kid, yucking it up with TV stars and Hollywood celebrities.

And when our ambassador and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Libya, Obama refused to cancel his fundraising party in Las Vegas. It's time to retire the beer summit spring break presidency. It's time to put the adults back in charge of America.

The Campaign to Defeat Obama PAC is responsible for the content of this ad.


HANNITY: You're laughing, Mr. Lowry.

LOWRY: Not the most subtle ad ever. Every golfer out there is probably, like, give him a break. You know, he can play golf.

HANNITY: Have you played 100 rounds in your life? I haven't.

LOWRY: It's funny, I was on a holiday, I think it was last Thanksgiving, trying to improve my swing. And I hit 200 balls that day, because I had nothing to do. I was, like, if I was president of the United States, I could do this every single day, but I don't have time.

MARSHALL: I don't honestly -- and I know people may not agree with me obviously, but I don't think that this or even the last ad, frankly are going to be that effective. One, you could fit in my hands the number of people that are undecided. Two, neither of them appeal to women, which both need to go for. And three, if you look years ago at the swift boat ads, those were very effective because they were very strong and very shocking. This isn't saying anything new. You know what I mean? Americans have heard this before --

HANNITY: But it pulls it together.

MARSHALL: I don't find the ads very effective.

PERINO: I think that as soon as something becomes a "Saturday Night Live" joke, like the president's golfing, that's when you should as a staff be advising the principal, I think you have to take a day off today. There will be plenty of time for golf in the future, but today is not the day.

LOWRY: It's a basketball day today, Mr. President.

PERINO: Right, inside activities.

HANNITY: Maybe take a trip to New York and go to Broadway. Do that.

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