This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, January 9, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: He's been moving up in the New Hampshire polls, but did Wesley Clark (search) hit a big speed bump today?
In an interview with the Concord Monitor newspaper, Clark said, "If I'm president of the United States, I'm going to take care of the American people. We are not going to have one of these incidents. Nothing is going to hurt this country -- not bioweapons, not a nuclear weapon, not a terrorist strike."
Is this another case of General Clark getting himself in trouble?
We're joined by Democratic consultant Cliff Schecter. And also with us, Republican consultant Randy Tate's on board.
CLIFF SCHECTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, Sean.
HANNITY: ... can anybody in politics make a definitive statement like that and guarantee something like that? Is that possible?
SCHECTER: No. You can never make a definitive statement like that. At the same time, I don't think it's really going to hurt General Clark.
I mean, you know, as you said he's been moving up in the polls in New Hampshire two points a day while John Kerry has been losing ground. A lot of people are starting to really -- I've heard that events that are supposed to have 300 people out of 1,000 people. People just look at General Clark and...
HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you a question. Would you go further and say it's irresponsible for a candidate to make some reckless statement like that?
SCHECTER: I don't think so. I really don't. Candidates make promises all the time that they're not going to keep. President Bush, you know, promised to balance the budget and look where we are right now.
HANNITY: Doesn't make you right.
SCHECTER: Well, I didn't say it's right.
HANNITY: But the fact is, nobody can make a statement like this. But yet, he's out there making it. And it goes to the heart of either his judgment or his integrity right off the top.
Randy, let me go to you. I find it reckless and irresponsible.
RANDY TATE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I do think it's very irresponsible when you consider that former Senator Sam Nunn (search), a Democrat, respected former chairman of the armed services committee, just said yesterday that, you know, that the threat of biological and chemical weapons is still high, the threat of that occurring.
Look, I think what we need to do is look at General Clark's record on issues and see if that matches up.
Look, he opposed the war in Iraq. I think Joe Lieberman's statement about Saddam Hussein still being in power if Howard Dean was president applies to Wes Clark.
I mean, do we really think, Sean -- Do we really think, Sean, that Moammar Gadhafi would be saying, look, you know, as he told the prime minister of Italy that, "Look, I'm afraid that George Bush is serious about his war on terror. I'm going to give up."
Or do we really think that the U.N. would be allowed to go into Iran and monitor what's going on there if we weren't serious? I don't think those things would happen in a Clark administration.
HANNITY: Cliff, let me go back to you in a different situation.
HANNITY: People like Norman Schwarzkopf (search) and Tommy Franks and Hugh Shelton in particular said he was relieved early of a command because of character and integrity issues.
If I were a Democrat, I'd be concerned that if he were to get the nomination, what are these character issues? What are these integrity issues? It's a big mystery. Because we will hear about it, you can bet, before the general election.
SCHECTER: I've got to tell you, Sean, I mean, look, that's been part of the Republican spin. And then you see, you know, he's released a lot of his records. And you've got such men as Alexander Haig and Colin Powell praising him and saying what a terrific guy he was and a brilliant leader.
You know, you've got others such as General McCarthy...
HANNITY: Wait a minute. But he praised George Bush and Don Rumsfeld and Condi Rice and a lot of people in the Democratic Party.
SCHECTER: That's true.
HANNITY: I think that he's a latecomer to the Democratic Party for political expediency.
SCHECTER: True, but these are personal evaluations written about this man while he was rising up in the ranks. And they're pretty nice things...
HANNITY: But if Hugh Shelton would have come out and tell us that integrity and character issue, don't you think that -- couple that with his "I would support the resolution. I wouldn't support the resolution." Isn't that going to hurt him in a general campaign?
If you're a Democrat, you've got to be concerned about that.
SCHECTER: Well, look, I'm concerned about a lot of things. I mean, it could hurt him. But you know, remember, you know, President Bush during his campaign at one point misstating our policy position on Taiwan. And you know, there's a big ruckus about it and everybody is worried, "Oh, my God! What's going to happen. He's lost his credibility." And the thing blew over. You know?
People make statements during campaigns. President Bush has made numerous statements: "Wanted: dead or alive," "bring them on."
HANNITY: I love that.
SCHECTER: Those aren't responsible statements either.
NEAL GABLER, GUEST CO-HOST: Randy, you know, this sounds very much to me like Republican spin points. Pick on a little tiny thing in which he's saying, "I'm confident that I'm going to protect this country." That's really what he's saying.
He's not saying that, you know, he'll protect it no matter what. He's saying he'll protect this country. How is this not just another Republican spin point?
TATE: Spin point? Just take it exactly verbatim what the general said when he was speaking before the Concord newspaper up in New Hampshire. He said, "If I am president we are not going to have one of these incidents occur."
You know, I don't we should have a president or a candidate that's trying to scare the heck out of the American people, but I also don't think they should candy coat it. I mean, I think it's irresponsible to make those sort of statements. I think it's a cruel hoax.
And also what I find troubling is he made the statement that somehow 9/11 could be prevented, that it would have never happened. He said that was one of the big lies.
That sounds like a page right out of Howard Dean's book when he was floating the notion that somehow George Bush had a head's up from the Saudi Arabians that September 11 attacks were going to occur.
GABLER: Actually, it sounds close...
TATE: That sounds like a very irresponsible sort of statement.
GABLER: Actually, it sounds like a page out of Tom Kane's book, who's the Republican chairman of the intelligence committee that's examining 9/11 and who said that 9/11 should have been prevented.
Cliff, I've got a question for you.
TATE: There are a number of -- There are a number of bipartisan groups, one headed by Senator Rudman, one headed by Gary Hart.
Here's what we know for certain, Neal. We know for sure that the Sudanese government offered up Usama bin Laden (search) back during the Clinton administration, and we decided not to allow them to capture him and turn him over to the United States.
But the bottom line is, George Bush -- the war on terror continues. We're still at a time that's very unsure in this country. And we want somebody who puts out a clarion call that is going to track down terrorists and hold them accountable.
GABLER: We're going to get Usama bin Laden instead of Saddam Hussein?
Cliff, go ahead.
SCHECTER: Well, I'm just going to say, you know, what Randy is saying here. I mean, I absolutely disagree. Look, he wants to try to put it back on President Clinton, which they all want to do.
The fact of the matter is, President Bush came into office, was warned by Sandy Berger that this would be the most important thing for you to pay attention to.
The Rudman report and Hart report warned that we had a catastrophic attack coming here. On August 6 at his ranch in Crawford, President Bush was warned that they had information that aerial attacks were coming to the United States by planes. They had the Phoenix memo. They had arrested Zacarias Moussaoui up in Minnesota, who didn't want to land or take off a plan, just wanted to learn how to steer it.
You can't tell me there wasn't enough stuff there. No, nobody definitely could have stopped it. But this wasn't Clinton's fault, give me a break. There are Bush people that should have been paying attention.
GABLER: There's another -- That Wesley Clark said something else, as well. What he said was he was going to commit $50 billion to secure this country from terrorism.
Randy, is this a...
TATE: Well, it would have been nice if he would...
HANNITY: Quick, Randy.
TATE: I think what would have been important is if he would have supported the $87 billion that would have helped us in our efforts in Iraq that helped us track down Saddam Hussein.
GABLER: We're talking about Kerry...
HANNITY: We've got to break. Guys, thank you. Appreciate it. Happy New Year to you both.
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