Could Springer Be A Ringer?

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, June 30, 2003  that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order a transcript of the entire show.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: So could a return to public service be in the future for one of America's most controversial television personalities? Joining us now, talk-show host Jerry Springer.

How are you?

JERRY SPRINGER, TALK SHOW HOST: Good to see you again.

HANNITY: Good to see you again.

All right, let me read here, "I could be an incredible voice in the Senate" you said at a meeting of the Ohio Young Democrats, you could help revitalize the Democratic Party (search).

Are you seriously considering a run for the Senate in Ohio?

SPRINGER: There is no question I'm seriously considering it, and I'll make up my mind by next month. But I have to figure out, because I'm a realist, I have to figure out whether I can break through the clutter of the show. You know, I'm so identified with the show, which admittedly is a silly, crazy show, that it may be hard for some people to take me seriously. So I have to figure out whether I can get through that.

HANNITY: The interesting thing is you're the former Cincinnati (search) mayor.


HANNITY: You and I, we've had an opportunity to meet a number of times and all we do is talk politics. We do not talk about this craziness that you do on that nutty show of yours.

SPRINGER: No. Because that's what I do for a living. That's how I put food on the table, but that's not my life. That's not what I really care about.

HANNITY: Are you embarrassed by what you do there? I get the impression that you've had it with that.

SPRINGER: No. Look, I'm not going to run away from the show. I did it for 13 years. It would be disingenuous for me now suddenly to say, "Oh, no." I was very happy to do the show. People obviously liked it. I still do it. It's been on for 13 years. People like it, but I wouldn't watch it.

HANNITY: You wouldn't watch your own show?

SPRINGER: No, because it's not aimed at me. I mean,  I'm a 59-year-old man. This is for college kids. If I was college I'd be watching it. And I'd be going, "Jerry, Jerry."

But it has no relevance to what's important in life.

HANNITY: I guess that you have a problem inasmuch as you probably have been pigeonholed. You're the guy that does that crazy stuff on TV.

SPRINGER: Sure, sure. No question.

HANNITY: What do you want to do? What are the things that are important to you? You're a big liberal like Colmes. You're going to run as a liberal.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: As a liberal.

SPRINGER: I don't want to run away from the label although I would more phrase myself as a populist. I believe the little guy is getting ripped off in our society.


SPRINGER: And I believe that wealthy, powerful people, they get their way all the time. I have lived in this country at every income level that exists in America, and it wasn't until I became wealthy because of my silly show that I realized that all the breaks are for me.

COLMES: Speaking upon Sean's first question, do you believe as a senator you would get more media attention because of who you are and that would help the Democratic cause? The cameras would follow you, the press would talk to you, they would want to know what does Jerry think about this?

SPRINGER: Yes. I've got some specific ideas. I think if you really want to juice up the economy instead of giving people like me a tax break, you ought to be talking about the payroll tax, which is the workingman's tax, give people relief there. That, people would appreciate. They'd spend the money; you'd juice up the economy.

COLMES: Raise the tax above $84,000 a year for Social Security, right?

SPRINGER: Raise the cap. Don't say raise the tax.

COLMES: The cap. Raise the cap.


COLMES: Not raise the percent.

SPRINGER: Let me just say one sentence so people understand. I am saying nobody should have to pay the payroll tax on the first $10,000 to $20,000 a year they earn because they need that money to live on. And they would spend every penny of that money, which would juice up the economy.

And eliminate the cap. So in other words, once I make $84,000, I don't have to pay the Social Security (search) tax anymore. I think that's ridiculous. I should have to pay as much as regular people.

COLMES: You're leaning toward running, aren't you?

SPRINGER: I would love to run. There's no question. What I'm testing in focus groups and all that is whether or not I can be heard on the issues.

COLMES: What are they telling you so far?

SPRINGER: So far they're telling me I can be heard. So far it's good news.

COLMES: How do you know that?

SPRINGER: How it's done is you put 100 people in a room, for example, randomly selected voters, and they watch for an hour and a half, they watch a movie on me, they watch a movie on my opponent, all the good stuff, all the bad stuff. And they vote as you go along.

And we notice that when the meeting starts out, everyone is against me. But then as they start to see some of the good stuff about me or hear my views, they say, "Wow, I didn't know he could talk."

COLMES: How do you know the electorate is going to be able to be educated to the extent that those people in that auditorium will be that were doing the focus groups?

SPRINGER: What they're testing is whether my point of view can be expressed by me over television in the commercials and all the things that we'll do on television. If we find that it can, then, you know, if I run, I'm going to run a big campaign.

COLMES: So in a month, might you give up the Jerry Springer show?

SPRINGER: If I decide to run this coming season will be my last season.

HANNITY: This is it.

COLMES: If you run for the Senate, what a pay cut is that for you?

SPRINGER: It's a pay cut. It's a pay cut. But you know, I'm sincere and you're just going to have to ultimately judge how sincere I am.

COLMES: Are the people around you, though, at the "Jerry Springer Show," saying, "Jerry, we want the job. We don't want to lose our jobs. Don't give up 'The Jerry Springer Show'?" You're employing a lot of people

SPRINGER: Honestly, that's the reason I have trouble sleeping. I mean, that is true, these are all my friends. There are 60 people there. And you know, it's their career.

HANNITY: It takes 60 people to put that on the air? Get five people to throw chairs at each other. Come on. What's so hard about that?

SPRINGER: Do you know how many people it takes to fix those chairs? We've got a whole furniture department.

COLMES: You are genuinely concerned about putting these people out of work and that is one of the things you're grappling with about running?

SPRINGER: Well, to put it into perspective. Look, first of all, they're all qualified people and they would have a year to find another job. So I don't mean to overstate it. But what I do mean is, sure, I've been with these people for 13 years. It's not easy to say goodbye. Of course not.

COLMES: Have you ever run out of topics, you've still have new stuff to do?

SPRINGER: Well, there's always new. People call up all the time with their stories, you know. But the question is, would the Senate be considered a step up or a step down?

COLMES: Because there are some stories there that probably would rival the things do you on "The Jerry Springer Show"?

SPRINGER: You know what? Regular people need at least people who don't like me would say, "He can't be owned." In other words, what special interest is going to own me? They can't come to me and say, "Hey, Jerry, vote our way. We'll give you this money. Vote our way, we'll make you famous. Vote our way, we'll put you on television."

COLMES: Would you put your own money into the campaign?

SPRINGER: Of course.

COLMES: So you wouldn't ask for public funds?

SPRINGER: No. Public funds, no. But sure, I want contributions; I want this to be a people's movement.

COLMES: How much are you prepared to spend of your own money?


COLMES: Have you thought about a figure?

SPRINGER: That has to be negotiated at home. No.

HANNITY: I knew Morton Downey Jr. really well. We both knew him Morton Downey Jr.

And he said he used to go home after the show, nobody was looking, and he would go in his bathroom and he would sit on the floor and he'd cry. He was embarrassed at what he'd do every night. Did you ever find yourself that you ever...

SPRINGER: No. Because we never take our show seriously.


SPRINGER: No. I'm not saying there's never been a serious show we've done.

HANNITY: You don't think some of these people get hurt? I mean, I'm assuming that they're real guests on your show. You say they are, they're real.

SPRINGER: They are real. I'm fake, they are real.

HANNITY: When they go home at night and all of a sudden, the monumental discovery that, "my friends are actually going to see me on TV making a fool of myself." Do you ever worry about that?

SPRINGER: I would say that's paternalistic. We never, ever raise that question when wealthy, powerful people write books or talk about all the incestuous things they might have done or the salacious things.

HANNITY: Wealthy people are smart enough not to go on your show.

SPRINGER: Why do we assume that because you have money, therefore, you are of higher moral value?

HANNITY: I've watched your show.

SPRINGER: You shouldn't be watching it. It's not for you.

HANNITY: I have watched it for educational purposes so I know what you're doing. But when a person, you're not always doing with the best and brightest and well-educated people. Well-educated people here.


HANNITY: I'm not being condescending. So they don't know what they're getting in for.

SPRINGER: That's different.

HANNITY: You give them a car, you fly them to Chicago.

SPRINGER: I'm going to give them a car?

HANNITY: You know, a limo.

SPRINGER: Oh, you mean drive them. Give them a car?

HANNITY: They do your show but then you realize, "Oh, my god, my friends are going to see me and laugh at me."

SPRINGER: No, no, no, no. First of all, and I'll do this quickly. The only way you get on our show is by calling us. We're not in the phone books.

HANNITY: If Alan Colmes calls you...


COLMES: That call is not happening.

SPRINGER: We're not in the phone book, so the only way you know our number is by seeing it on the screen. In other words, people who come on the show have seen the show hundreds of times before. They know exactly.

HANNITY: You ask two questions and some people can't answer. There is not a lot of dialogue on the show.

SPRINGER: I watch the show, you get politicians on here, you ask 10 questions that they can't answer.

COLMES: That's true. Jerry, congratulations. I hope when you're ready to announce you'll let us know.

SPRINGER: Absolutely.

COLMES: Thanks very much, Jerry Springer.

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