Bracelet Backlash: Obama Using Fallen Soldier's Name for Political Gain?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 29, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I've got a bracelet, too, from Sergeant — are the mother of Sergeant Ryan David Jopek, given to me in Green Bay, and she asked me, "Can you please make sure that another mother's not going through what I'm going through?"


SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And that was Barack Obama at Friday night's debate, talking about the bracelet that he received from the mother of fallen soldier Ryan Jopek. But now there is some discrepancy about whether the family wanted Senator Obama to publicly mention their family's loss.

Here's what the soldier's father had to say about the bracelet to a Wisconsin public radio station after the debate.


BRIAN JOPEK, FATHER OF FALLEN SOLDIER: She has turned down any subsequent interviews with the media, because she just didn't — she just didn't want this turned into something that it wasn't.

So — and I — she had told me that in an e-mail that she had asked — actually asked Mr. Obama to not wear the bracelet any more in any of his public appearances.


Watch Sean and Alan's interview

HANNITY: And joining us now is former senator, Rick Santorum; White House special counsel, Lanny Davis. Both are FOX News contributors.

I'm want to put aside the issue there, and our thoughts and prayers are with any family member's loss. So I'm not sure what the story is. There's been some discrepancy here. But I — I'm concerned if that was the family's wishes.

Lanny, I think that — and I've read your column, by the way, about the debate. And you for once, actually, were fairly even-handed. I give you credit.

But I think there was missed opportunities by Senator McCain. I think Senator McCain had every right in this debate to turn to Barack Obama and say, "Senator Obama, you accused our troops of air-raiding villages and killing civilians. Will you apologize?"

Well, I'll give you one more. He could have turned to Senator Barack Obama and said, "Even your running mate, Joe Biden — Joe Biden — said that if you vote against the funding of the troops, that innocent troops are going to die, and you did it anyway. Did you make a mistake?"

You think — is Sean Hannity over the top, or are those legitimate pieces of debate that were left on the table?

LANNY DAVIS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first I wanted to say I came from synagogue tonight, Sean, where I prayed for you and forgave you for all your political incorrectness. It was heavy lifting, but I think you're OK.

HANNITY: Well, happy new year.

DAVIS: I — thank you. I do think Senator McCain could have turned to Senator Obama and looked at him and, for some reason, chose not to.

But as I wrote in my column and raise some of those questions the way that Senator Obama called to him and called him, "John, you were wrong about this. You were wrong about that." And gave him credit on — stylistically, I think, Senator Obama came across more likeable.

HANNITY: I didn't ask you that. Let me ask Rick, because he's more partisan, hopefully, than you.

But Rick, you know, why not — Senator Obama did — he accused our troops of air-raiding villages and killing civilians. Joe Biden said, "If you vote against this bill, soldiers are going to die," and he did it. And I just want to know what — you know, did Senator McCain leave too much on the table? Maybe it's because he's a nice guy. Why?

RICK SANTORUM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think he left a lot on the table in that debate. I thought he did a good job, particularly in the area of defense...

HANNITY: I do, too.

SANTORUM: ... but he left a lot on the table in the economy, the whole Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae thing.

For Barack Obama to say that, you know, this was about Republican lack of regulation when it was, in fact, his bill, John McCain's bill, that wanted more strict regulation on Freddie and Fannie, that the Democrats blocked. I mean, there was a lot there; there was a lot on the war.

I think just this whole thing — this whole thing about the bracelet was about whether, you know, you felt the pain of a soldier. I mean, who felt and understood sacrifice for this country more than John McCain?


SANTORUM: I mean, to be able to wear a bracelet is one thing, but to understand truly and to sacrifice for American, John McCain has it hands down.

COLMES: Let's be clear about this. Let's be clear about this. We played the tape of the father who's no longer with the mother.

It was the mother, Tracy Jopek, who gave Barack Obama that bracelet. And she said she was honored that her son was remembered at that debate and was satisfied that it was handled appropriately when it came up during the debate. So that's the person who gave Barack Obama the bracelet. She was satisfied that it was handled appropriately during that debate.

So I don't think we should be playing politics with that. Do you, Rick?

SANTORUM: Well, you know, I think the bracelet is really not the issue. The issue is you have, as Sean said, you have someone who has not been supportive of our troops, someone who has...

COLMES: What do you mean? Because he doesn't agree with the war, he's not supportive of the troops?

SANTORUM: Well, he obviously — for someone who says that he would not have supported the surge after the fact, knowing that it — it would work and that it, in fact, will save American lives over the long-term, that it will create better stability in the Middle East, and to still hold to that opinion is someone who is not supporting the troops.

COLMES: He said the troops did a great job. He said all along he knew the surge, militarily, would work.

SANTORUM: But he didn't support the troops.

COLMES: He said it was political reconciliation that was the reason the surge happened.

And Lanny Davis, that's what didn't happen as a result of the surge, and that's why the surge wasn't successful 100 percent. Barack Obama never denounced the troops, Lanny.

DAVIS: Look...

HANNITY: He voted to defund them.

COLMES: He didn't. He voted against...

HANNITY: He voted to cut off funds.

COLMES: I wish every Democrat voted not to fund this war.

HANNITY: Joe Biden said they'd die.

COLMES: Do you mind if Lanny Davis...


COLMES: Do you mind if Lanny Davis answers the question?

HANNITY: OK, go ahead, Lanny. Go ahead.

COLMES: Thank you, Mr. Hannity. Lanny, go ahead.

HANNITY: Then I can educate you.

DAVIS: I think the — I think the reason that Sean liked my column today is that I thought both of these gentlemen upheld a standard of debating the issues better than past presidential debates that I've seen.

My son, who's a very partisan Democrat, pro-Barack Obama, called me after the debate and said, "I'm proud to be an American watching both of them." And that's really to me — there were sharp differences on issues.

They were respectful of one another. Senator McCain talked about Senator Kennedy being put into the hospital. Senator Obama gave Senator McCain credit for his position on torture. Yet they differed on these issues, as Rick has pointed out.


DAVIS: There are strong differences, and I think it helped the American people.

COLMES: We thank you both very much for being on tonight.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

Content and Programming Copyright 2008 FOX News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2008 ASC LLC (, which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, Inc.'s and Voxant Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.