California Dreaming?

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This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, August, 22 2003 that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, HOST: Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t the only Republican trying to replace Gray Davis in California. Joining us now, Republican State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Tom McClintock (search ). Senator McClintock, good to have you with us.

I'm the liberal on this show, you know, I'm not a conservative. But if I were, you'd be the guy I'd support. I don't understand why conservatives are getting so excited about a guy who has been all over the place on the tax pledge. We can go down the list of things that he has done, which if a Democrat were to say it would be blasted by the very same conservatives who are rallying around Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Why aren't you getting more of that support?

TOM McCLINTOCK, R-CALIF., CA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think we will during the campaign. Don't forget we're still in the very early stages of that campaign. It's 46 days until the election.

If this was a normal November election, we'd only be about a week and a half out of Labor Day, so a lot has to happen between now and then.

COLMES: But, you have to fight the Hollywood celebrity, I mean, you have to get your name out there. Doesn't he have a great advantage because of who he is?

McCLINTOCK: Well, yes, he does and I hear it all the time, well, yes you're the most qualified candidate, but you just don't have the celebrity or the money to compete in a race like this. My response is if the most qualified candidate must defer every time a celebrity or a millionaire casts a longing eye on public office, well then we've lost something very important in our democracy.

COLMES: Unfortunately, we know the most qualified candidate often doesn't get elected. It's often the person with the greatest name recognition, the biggest money, the biggest backing. Politics isn't necessarily where the best person gets in.

McCLINTOCK: Well, in normal elections that might be true, but this is not a normal election in California. I know there's a great tendency to focus on all the surface glitz and glamour, but what's really going on here in California is a very serious discussion among Californians over the future direction of our state. You're finding Californians tuned into state public policy like never before and for good reason because their futures depend on it.

COLMES: But look, as I said, if I were a conservative, I think that you are the true conservative in the race. My issue is this with the recall process, and I think Dianne Feinstein has a principled position and as she says, you can't vote no on the recall but then yes on some other candidate.

I'm against, like Dianne Feinstein is this whole idea, and I think Republicans are getting a reputation of if you don't like an election, don't like the results, didn't like that Clinton was reelected, you know now they didn't like the Davis was elected -- unless there's great malfeasance which I don't see -- I don't think it's right to recall someone. I know it's the law -- I don't think it's good for the process.

McCLINTOCK: Well, our entire form of government is based on the assumption that more than half the people are right, more than half the time. Now that doesn't mean they're not entitled to make a mistake every now and then. The recall is in the state constitution so that people can correct a mistake without having to live with it for another four years. The authors of the recall were very specific. The purpose of the recall is, quote, "to dismiss an unsatisfactory public servant."

We have a public servant in California whose policies have bankrupted the state's finances, devastated our economy, decimated our public works, and if that's not a definition of an unsatisfactory public servant, I don't know what is.

COLMES: Well hold on, that's basically saying you don't like what's happened since he's been governor and therefore you want to recall him. Shouldn't you have to have proven malfeasance, or some kind of illicit behavior or some kind of law breaking in order to recall somebody?

Just because you don't like the way somebody is behaving after he was or she was duly elected, the idea that you can then recall that person is ignoring and disrespectful of the electoral process upon which we build our representative form of government.

McCLINTOCK: No, it simply recognizes that every now and then the public can make a mistake in an election and they have the option then to correct that mistake. We've had the recall process in California's constitution for 92 years. This is the first time that a statewide recall election has been qualified. Those are extraordinary circumstances.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Senator, welcome to the program. Sean Hannity here, appreciate you being with us.

Not only that, it was attempted 11 times, correct?

McCLINTOCK: Actually, it was attempted 31 times.

HANNITY: Thirty-one times, OK.

McCLINTOCK: And no effort had ever come close until this one. And people say, well it's because of millions, it wasn't.

There were 155,000 Californians who carried recall petitions. Of that 155,000, 3,000 were paid, the other 152,000 were citizens, Californians acting in that capacity.

HANNITY:And did I read they tried it twice against Reagan when he was governor?

McCLINTOCK: Yes, as I said 31 times in 92 years, this was the first one to actually qualify.

HANNITY: But they say liberals did it twice against Reagan. I find it interesting, once again, it's part of California law, and it doesn't talk about proving malfeasance, it is an option that the people have, it's not amoral, it's not unethical, it's not undemocratic, it is what the law is. And once again, liberals have a problem with the law.

And they want to change it to suit their own purposes, which I always find interesting. I want to ask you about Arnold's conservative credentials.

I don't know what conservatives Arnold is talking to, because I am not hearing the same things that he is hearing. I'm hearing a lot of conservatives waiting and watching and they want to see where he stands on political issues, and, frankly, there's been some ambiguity, but I think he took a very big step this week when he talked about how the people of California are not under taxed.

That there's overspending in Sacramento – we’ve overtaxed, over regulated, overburdened business there, and that he doesn't want to raise taxes because that's not the issue. It sounded pretty conservative to me on economic issues in spite of the contradiction of hiring Warren Buffet who is not a supply-sider.

McCLINTOCK: Well, one of my big concerns is he surrounded himself not only with Warren Buffet, who is probably one of the most outspoken advocates of higher taxes in the country but he's also surrounded himself with the team that imposed the biggest tax increase by any state in American history here in California in 1991. Those tax increases broke the back of the state's economy...

HANNITY: But look, I'm a conservative through and through, and when he talked about over - being overtaxed, over-regulated, the people doing the right thing, they're spending too much money, that's a conservative message, you'll concede that, right?

McCLINTOCK: Oh, that's a conservative message, but then why won't he take a no tax pledge? In a state that is spending a larger portion of people's earnings than at any time in history...

HANNITY: He explained the reason. You may not accept it, but his reason that he gave was that if there's any type of state emergency, earthquake or anything else, he thinks it would be irresponsible to have that on record. But as far as dealing with budgetary issues, I think he should say on budgetary matters for those reasons I will not raise taxes and he hasn't gone there yet.

McCLINTOCK: No, he hasn't, and by the way, Pete Wilson made exactly the same speeches in 1990, refused to take a no tax pledge because it wouldn't be prudent but said he wouldn't - you know - that that would be the last thing that he'd do, he attacked Dianne Feinstein and then as soon as he was elected, gave the biggest tax increase in the state's history. I don't want to repeat the early 1990s, I want to see an absolute solid no tax pledge from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

HANNITY: Most -- I think most Republicans agree that it's a pretty Democratic state right now in California and I think most Republicans understand that on social issues -- I'm not sure if there is enough of a population to go out there and vote for a conservative on social issues. What do you say to those people that say that? Do you think conservatives on social issues can similarly win statewide office in California?

McCLINTOCK: First of all, I don't understand how you can be a conservative on fiscal issues and a liberal on social issues. How do you expect to pay for your socially liberal programs with your fiscal conservatism?

I was the top Republican vote-getter here in California in the last election. I got more Democratic crossover votes, more independent votes, more total votes than any other candidate running. So I think that this proves the theory that a -- someone who is a fiscal conservative and a social conservative can't do very well in California.

HANNITY: What do you think of Gray Davis' comments that I'm going to fight this recall and the right wing forces behind it, that Republicans are trying to steal an election they cannot win?

McCLINTOCK: Well, don't forget 35 percent of the people who signed the recall petitions were registered Democrats. Seventy-five percent of the people in this state think that Gray Davis has done an absolutely atrocious job and if that's a right wing conspiracy it's the biggest conspiracy in the history of the world.

HANNITY: Yes, well. I kind of agree with you there. Bustamante interestingly is running on the, quote, "tough love for California" campaign where he's promising to raise taxes and fees. Is that going to go over well?

McCLINTOCK: Well it's certainly tough on taxpayers, that's for sure. He loves the taxpayers; he loves to see them pay taxes.

COLMES: Senator, thank you very much for being with us tonight. Good luck with the campaign, we hope you will come back.

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