Barack vs. Bill: Candidate Obama Says Ex-President is Distorting His Words

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," January 21, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.



BARACK OBAMA, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you have something that just directly contradicts the facts, and it's coming from a former president, I think that's a problem, because people presume that a former president's going to have more credibility. And I think there's certain responsibilities that are carried with that.

ROBIN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": Anything else that you want to set the record straight that he said one thing about you, and you're now saying that's false?

OBAMA: President Clinton went on the — in front of a large group and said that I had claimed that only Republicans had had any good ideas since 1980, and then he added, I'm not making this up. He was making it up and completely mischaracterizing my statement.


HANNITY: That was presidential candidate Barack Obama making his opinion of Bill Clinton widely known. Joining us now former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Democratic pollster Pat Caddell, and chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, Harold Ford Jr., all three Fox News contributors.

Senator Santorum, we'll begin with you. I guess what he's saying — it's a shocking revelation — Bill Clinton doesn't tell the truth.

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER SENATOR: Wow. Maybe he missed out on the whole impeachment thing. I'm sort of stunned that he would say that — somehow or another, that Bill Clinton has never prevaricated in his life. That's sort of typical for Clinton to use hyperbole and to assign things that he would like people to do and say, as opposed to what they actually did do and say.

HANNITY: Well, I will tell you this, Congressman Ford — now you're entrepreneur — Barack Obama is now fighting back, and he's hitting back hard. It seems that as this campaign has gone on, I think he's recognized that the Clintons, through their surrogates and others, are going to be pretty vicious in their attacks, pointed in their attacks. He's decided to fight back, and I think far more effectively than the Clintons ever imagined he would.

HAROLD FORD JR., DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: He has been effective. He is powerful in his eloquence and his presentation. I hope that this debate on the Democratic side moves back to talking about where each of the candidates want to take the country going forward. At the end of the day, this is a process about selecting someone to face the Republicans in the fall. And if you're unable to talk specifically about a stimulus package — when I say specifically, they were, but in as forceful a way as they've been critical of one another.

I hope they move beyond it. The country doesn't need it. The party certainty doesn't need it. It disadvantages us heading into November.

HANNITY: Pat Caddell, if I could turn to you, Newsweek has a piece that prominent Democrats are upset at Bill Clinton's role in the campaign. They report that both Senator Kennedy and Congressman Rahm Emanuel, both supposedly neutral in the Democratic contest, have been calling Bill Clinton and saying, knock it off, stop with the rhetoric, stop attacking Barack Obama. You're hurting the whole party. Your thoughts?

PAT CADDELL, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, if they feel that strongly, they should say so publicly, because it's not having a lot of effect so far. The fact of the matter is that we have — you know they are really tearing the party up right now, and I believe there are going to be serious consequences. I think that some of the things that the Clinton campaign —

And I believe for Hillary Clinton, she's got a problem. Is Bill Clinton running for his third term here, or is she running? Does he have to protect her every time? Can she speak for herself? These are going to be problems that are going to crop up not just in the primaries but in the general election.

But let me just say, Bob, looking at the Nevada results, what we're starting to see is this race breakdown into race versus gender. And that's very dangerous for the Democratic party, and people should be alarmed. And the Clintons have a lot of responsibility for this.

HANNITY: Let me turn to — I, as a Republican, have been so offended by the Democratic party. Predictably this happens every election cycle; 1998, radio ad, Democratic party, Missouri, "If you elect Republicans, crosses are going to burn"; the James Byrd ad. George Bush supported the death penalty for the people responsible for that dragging death. That was a despicable use of the race card.

Similarly, we see it — it seems the Democrats, tactics they've used against Republicans, they're using against each other in this campaign. Is this going to hurt the party?

FORD: I wouldn't go that far. Governor Huckabee in South Carolina aligned himself with those who wanted to fly the flag which overwhelmingly the business community — Republican business community said it did not want to do any longer. George Bush went down and endorsed the same thing.

HANNITY: Robert Byrd ran the Senate.


FORD: There are huge differences between us. At the end of the day, I would agree with your premise. I would agree with Pat's premise. This is not helpful to the party if want to win in November. Voters don't want a gender/race discussion. They want an America first discussion.

COLMES: Rick Santorum, I think we've gone beyond the gender and race discussion, but Hillary and Obama clearly are going at each other now on the issues and on some of the things Bill Clinton has said. But Republicans, you know, this idea that we should go back and talk about what happened in 1998 and beyond and what Democrats did with certain ads that they ran, you've had Republicans play identity politics forever, dividing based on gays, based on abortion, based on all kinds of things.

So, you can't act like you're the innocents and it's only Democrats who do this stuff.

SANTORUM: Well, I mean I think Sean's right.

COLMES: Of course you do.

SANTORUM: The race card is played in every race. It was played against me. It's played against any Republican in a state or a district that has a large African-American population. You know Jack Kemp was just on before me. And I'll match my record about going into the inner city and working in those neighborhoods as well as anybody else. It doesn't mean it's not used against you and your record isn't taken and distorted.

So this is a common tactic of the left and of the Democratic party and now it's getting used internally instead of externally...


FORD: I was in a race just last year where the National Republican Party ran a set of ads that were simply despicable, obnoxious, and had no business being in any people's living room. So we could have this debate, and Rick can say what he chooses, but the reality is the country is not interested in this. We can all have a story and tell a story, and I think I can tell a compelling story.

The reality is, how do we fix this economy and ensure that middle class Americans have jobs and health security. And for that matter, we find new energy options for the country. That's where we should be headed, both Democrats and Republicans, for the country's sake.

COLMES: Now Pat Caddell, we're seeing the most important issue is the economy, even more so than the Iraq war. And we've got a situation now where I don't know how this Republican administration can say, look what we've done for the economy, and have some Republican candidate run on the record of what Republicans have done up until this point.

CADDELL: Well, they're going to have a problem. Look, in South Carolina, the biggest issue in the Republican primary Saturday was the economy, by far. So it's not just Democrats that are having this problem. It's — I mean the Republicans. This is an issue not just with Democrats, but with everyone in the country, and it's going to be a serious problem. Republicans better get a message other than how good it's been for you.

COLMES: We'll continue with our panel in just a moment. Coming up, Bill Clinton tells Fox News that he personally witnessed voter intimidation in Las Vegas. What exactly did he see? We'll get into that coming up on "Hannity & Colmes."



WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that all the votes should count the same. And I think that everybody should have equal access to the caucus. So we've done what we could to find people who could come in here and caucus.

For example, we did get eight people in today who caucused at the previous site, who were told they had to register by Wednesday to vote, but they could only register if they registered for Obama.


COLMES: That was former President Bill Clinton describing what he calls voter intimidation during Saturday's Nevada Democratic caucus. We now continue with Rick Santorum, Pat Caddell, and Harold Ford Jr.

Pat, does Bill Clinton have a point there that there was some kind of intimidation to get people to vote for Barack Obama?

CADDELL: Well, I'm sure there was pressure put on by the union. It didn't seem to work very well, given those large caucus sites — Hillary Clinton did very well. In fact, she won a couple of them. — So I don't know. I just thought a lot of the stuff that they were complaining about and doing is really not very helpful, and it's cut throat.

And I don't understand what the former president of the United States is doing out there. This is ludicrous.

COLMES: Well, it is cut throat on both sides. If you look at what happened in South Carolina and prior to that, look at what happened to McCain the last time in South Carolina, Harold Ford Jr. Look what happened between Huckabee and Romney, McCain and Romney, went after each other in New Hampshire. It was vicious the things they're saying to each other. Conservatives like to focus on Clinton and Obama at each other throats.

FORD: Look, this is an unusual — and as much as I respect Mr. Cadell's point about the former president, it's his spouse, his wife, and the mother of his daughter whose running. I hear what you're saying. Some of the language may be a little over the top. Nonetheless, I can understand why he's there.

The reality is these primaries do these kind of things to candidates. Chuck Norris made an awful comment about John McCain, and John McCain I thought had a great comeback about sending his mother over to Chuck Norris' place.

I'm sure Chuck Norris meant no harm by it, just to say, hey, I think my candidate is better. You get into this very difficult and challenging and almost volatile time in the campaigns and these things are said.

I'm glad Nevada is over with. They're now on to South Carolina. Let's get back to talking about how you pay for an infrastructure plan, how you pay for a stimulus plan. How do you balance the budget and cut taxes?

COLMES: The thing is people want to blame surrogates for everything the campaign believes. I know it's a little different in Bill Clinton's case because he happens to be married to the candidate and happens to be a former president, but you want to hold a surrogate responsible for everything a candidate says or believes, you can play that game on both sides of the aisle.

SANTORUM: Well, look, what's really happening here is this is a very competitive primary on both sides. And we haven't seen that kind of competition this far into a primary in quite some time. And it's really — they're both open. They're both up for grabs right now, and you're seeing the intensity ratchet up. And you're going to get personal comments being made. Every campaign is looking for that little edge that can give him that extra percentage to win.

And so you're going to start to see a lot more like this. I agree with Harold. I wish they'd talk and focus and the media would cover more about the issues, but they're not. They're going to talk about this stuff.

HANNITY: Pat, I want to stay with Rick for just a second here. Rick, we just had Jack Kemp on moments ago, and we were discussing Senator McCain. You've been very forceful, as have many conservatives, in their criticism of the senator. He's moving out of states where there's an independent factor into states where there's only Republican voters. So I ask the question, does Senator McCain have a conservative problem?

SANTORUM: Before I say anything, John McCain has sacrificed and suffered more for this country than I have or ever will. And so I have a lot of respect for him and his own personal commitment to this country. I just don't believe that he's been a conservative, particularly on issues that I find very important on the domestic front, on the economy, and business issues, and on internal security issues.

He's been great on the war, but he's really not been so great here about protecting our borders and interrogation, and other types of things that are very, very important for our own internal security. And a lot of conservatives have serious concerns about his campaign, and now he's trying to reformulate. I think it's great that he's now for capital gains tax cuts and he's now for reductions in the dividend. But he almost stopped both of those, and we would have had better tax cuts had he been more cooperative in working with us in 2001 and 2003.

HANNITY: Pat, if you want to jump in, go ahead.

CADDELL: Yes, I do. First of all, we need to comment — it hasn't really been done since Saturday — his comeback is probably one of the most miraculous in presidential history, given what happened this summer. He basically did it with character, number one. Number two, in South Carolina — I went back and looked at the exit polls from 2000 — 40 percent of the voters in that primary — remember, there's no registration by party here in South Carolina — 40 percent of the voters were Democrats or independents in 2000. It was down to 20 percent — it was 80 percent Republican. And he actually ran even with moderate conservatives. The stronger conservatives, yes, he loses.

HANNITY: Wait a minute, he lost conservatives by two to one to Huckabee in South Carolina on Saturday night.

CADDELL: He lost strong conservatives. Moderate conservatives —

HANNITY: He won moderates, but he didn't win the conservatives.

CADDELL: I'm saying, if you break them in half, which they did, which is actually two to one, strong conservatives — and it was 60 percent evangelical Christians here, which is a tough group for him.

I'm just saying, I think it's miraculous, and I think it was a tough election. But the point is, what I love about Republicans, they have a candidate who probably, if Hillary Clinton, in particular, is our nominee, will win, and they want to kill him. They want to kill him. I don't get it.

HANNITY: Pat, Appreciate it, thank you. Senator Santorum, Congressman, good to see you, and we appreciate you all being with us.

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