This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 26, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: I'm Alan Colmes. Monica Crowley filling in for Sean tonight.
Monica, nice to see you. Thanks for being here.
MONICA CROWLEY, GUEST CO-HOST: Nice to be back. Thanks, Alan.
COLMES: We get right to our top story. This afternoon, Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean (search) said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (search) and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (search) should resign or be fired for what he called gross incompetence.
Will this set him apart from the rest of the Democratic pack? Joining us from Washington, Georgia Congressmen Jack Kingston, and from Philadelphia, New Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews. Good to see you both once again.
Jack it's been a while. Good to have you back.
REP. JACK KINGSTON, R-Ga.: Alan, Monica, thanks. Excited to be here.
COLMES: Now we were told they knew where the weapons were, we were told about aluminum tubes, we were told about uranium. And now it turns out you have David Kay, he's got a draft of an interim report coming out looking at…with the WMDs. And after nearly four months of intensively looking and interviewing top Iraqi scientists, he apparently can't find anything.
Were we not misled?
KINGSTON: Alan, I'll say one thing. I'm going to quote John Kerry going back to 1990. He said Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons and biological weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
COLMES: Twelve years ago.
KINGSTON: And not only did he say that, but he said he'd been using them. But I just want to say this...
COLMES: That was 13 years ago.
KINGSTON: ... in terms of Dean and the guys in the Democratic primary, it doesn't matter what they said today. Give them 24 hours. They will be on the other side of the fence. There are more flip-flops with the Democratic presidential candidates than...
COLMES: Congressman, with all due respect, you're avoiding my question, which is about what we've been told by the Bush administration and what the statements we've had coming out of the administration about justification for war, about weapons, about links to al Qaeda, about Iraq getting ready to make weapons, about aluminum tubes, about uranium finds. What about the accountability?
KINGSTON: Alan, I still think there's weapons of mass destruction out there. This is a serious matter. You could take the entire supply of anthrax that Iraq has, put it in four suitcases, and bury it in somebody's back yard, and it might take years to find it. A lot of this stuff is small, it's portable.
It can be hidden. They're infamous for hiding things in the sand. As you know, we've already found airplanes there and mass graves and all kinds of things. So, yes, I think this is just part of the Democratic presidential candidate rhetoric that we're going to be hearing from here on out.
And as far as them saying that Wolfowitz should resign, so what? All they're doing is following…well, I guess Kerry said that Rumsfeld should resign the other day. I mean, this is just you know, they're going to have the whole Bush administration resign before the week is out.
COLMES: Let me bring in Congressman Andrews. It's not just Democrats saying this.
REP. ROB ANDREWS, D-N.J.: No.
COLMES: I mean, the American public is now starting to turn, it seems. We're seeing in not just one poll, but a trend in terms of Bush's approval ratings. Clearly, there's a long time between now and November, '04. It can easily reverse itself, but there is a trend going on here.
ANDREWS: I would say to my friend, Jack, that we may not have to call on these guys to resign. The American people may fire them. I think part of it is the disorientation we've seen, the lack of a sensible plan to get us out of Iraq. But I think the larger part is the three million people who have lost their jobs since the administration took office.
It is the drop in health care that has taken place. It's going from a $5 trillion surplus to a $5 trillion deficit. And I think that the public is on to the economic failures of the president, which is why the race is tightening up.
COLMES: Why would you be surprised, Congressman Kingston, that this is going on? In terms of what Congressman Andrews just said, poverty up in 2000. Census report out today says poverty is up to 12.1 percent from 11.7. 1.7 more million people are in poverty in the last year. The median household income has dropped 1.1 percent. People are feeling the pinch.
People are going to respond to that in the voting booths, aren't they?
KINGSTON: Alan, Bush inherited a very bad economy, as Rob knows. It was falling in the last couple quarters of the Clinton administration.
COLMES: This is the second year of the Bush administration.
KINGSTON: And then we're attacked on 9/11. People don't want to fly on airplanes, people don't want to invest in American insurance companies. They don't want to invest in new developments. I mean, this is a recession that's tied into a war.
And so to say this is Bush incompetence or the famous tax breaks for the wealthy cry of the Democrats, I'm listening to the Democrats. Here's what I'm hearing. You know, which…I just want to say this is what I'm hearing.
Which candidate can raise taxes and quotas the highest? Which candidate can squeeze this into the smallest made foreign American car? Which candidate can make the world safest for trial lawyer? Which candidate can socialize the most medicine and other federal programs?
ANDREWS: What Jack says is very nostalgic, because that's sort of the Republican play book of the '80s. But, look, the reality is the shelf life is kind of run on this argument that the economy's weakness is something the president inherited or was caused by 9/11. Those are factors, but this is the second year. We're going into the third year of a Bush recession.
CROWLEY: Congressman Andrews, let me ask you something.
ANDREWS: Yes, sure.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you something, because the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, your party, Howard Dean, called for Secretary Rumsfeld to resign today and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. Now, I happen to think, and I'm not alone in this evaluation, that those two men have done an extraordinary job of leadership in very unprecedented times. And I'm not the only one who thinks that.
The second frontrunner of your party, General Wesley Clark, two years ago had this to say. Do we have this video please? Roll that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm very glad we have a great team in office, men like Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, people I know very well. Our president, George W. Bush. We need them there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So, General Clark was singing the praises of this Bush team two years ago before September 11th, and he made those remarks at a Republican dinner. And he's also admitted that he's voted for Republicans in the past, presidents Nixon and Reagan, which must make him the antichrist to the Democrats.
Don't you think that General Clark has some explaining to do?
ANDREWS: I think General Clark is like a lot of Americans, that he speaks his mind and votes for the person he thinks is best. But let me say this about the call for the resignations of Mr. Rumsfeld. I don't agree with that.
I think he's been a very good secretary of defense, and I don't embrace Howard Dean's call for that. I think Howard Dean is actually trying to distract attention from his own problem, which is the fact he was not very supportive of Medicare (search).
I support Dick Gephardt, and I think Dick very accurately pointed out in the debate yesterday that Howard Dean was embracing the same Medicare philosophy that my friend, Jack Kingston, embraced in 1995 when they wanted to take...
You all wanted to take $270 billion out of Medicare and put it into a tax cut. That was something Howard Dean embraced. I don't agree with you and I don't agree with him.
CROWLEY: Congressman Kingston, go ahead, reply.
KINGSTON: You know, 1985, the Clinton trustees said Medicare was going to go broke if we didn't do anything about it. Now because the Democrats hadn't done anything about it for years, Republicans took a politically risky step, saved Medicare, and Medicare is solvent today. We are still looking at ways to transform and improve this very important healthcare program for our seniors.
But, you know talk about last year's play book, Rob, here you go again scaring seniors with Medicare and calling Dean the "N" word. Yes, he is like Newt Gingrich. Oh, that is horrible, and that's the equivalent of saying that Jack Kingston hangs out with Ted Kennedy.
But you know that's just ridiculous. You guys have to come up with, say…Medicare should be nonpartisan. It should be about the next generation, not the next election. And, yes, the Democrats one more time...
ANDREWS: Jack, we don't have to scare people about Medicare. They're scared as it is because they can't buy prescription drugs, their co-pays are going up.
CROWLEY: All right. Well, we're hearing a lot of election year rhetoric here coming out of the Democrats.
ANDREWS: No, you're hearing a lot of the failure of the Bush administration to fix the economy is what you're hearing.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you another question related to national security...
CROWLEY: ... for the issues that Alan raised previously. Don't you think that the president and his team have already proven their credentials on this score and it's up to the Democrats now…the burden is on them…to prove that they are up to this job as commander in chief?
Now, I think General Clark has impeccable military credentials, but what about the rest of the team? How do you see it?
ANDREWS: Oh, I think the rest of the field…I agree with you. The challenger has to prove their credentials.
Dick Gephardt has been involved in international affairs as a leader of this country for 25 years. John Kerry won the Purple Heart in Vietnam. As you say, General Clark was the commander of NATO. I think that our field is quite qualified to serve in the presidency.
KINGSTON: And most of them voted for the use of force in Iraq and...
ANDREWS: As did I, Jack.
CROWLEY: OK, Congressman Andrew, this is your party. You have a field of 10 candidates out there. Do you think this is the final 10, or do you think others are going to jump into this race, say a former vice president or maybe a certain junior senator from New York?
ANDREWS: No. I think this is the field. You have to raise a lot of money to run this race and lay a lot of groundwork. I think this is the field.
CROWLEY: All right. So you're happy with it and you're supporting Gephardt. Tell us why.
ANDREWS: He's qualified to run the country. He has a big idea to fix what I think is the biggest problem in the economy, which is the broken healthcare system. He's experienced. I think he understands in his heart because of his family background what it's like to be a middle-class person trying to pay your bills, and I trust him.
CROWLEY: All right. Let me ask you about Howard Dean, because he is the former Vermont governor, he seems to have a lot of money. He's got the momentum. He's got all of the media buzz here, and he's pulling pretty significant numbers here, even with General Clark in the race.
Would your party be comfortable with Howard Dean as its nominee?
ANDREWS: I don't think our party's going to nominate Howard Dean because he's out of the Democratic mainstream, particularly on Medicare and Social Security. He called for cuts in the Medicare program in 1995. He embraced the philosophy of Mr. Gingrich. He has called for raising the Social Security retirement age at various times, and I don't think those are issues that bedrock Democrats are going to support.
So I don't believe that Mr. Dean will be the nominee.
COLMES: I want to go to Congressman Kingston and refer to the tape that Monica played of General Clark praising the administration before September 11. And you know, in my view, this shows he's not an ideologue, he's open minded, he's not a partisan.
And his view mirrors that of many Americans who were giving the president and his crew the benefit of the doubt for a very long time right up until and right after September 11, and have since decided that the way he has gone after fighting the war on terror, focusing on Iraq, has not necessarily been in the best interest of America.
Many Americans have that point of view. So why should we be surprised that General Clark might be one of them?
KINGSTON: Well, I think there's two things about the Clark candidacy we have to keep in mind. Number one is that it shows to me that no one is really excited about all the Democrats who have been out there for years, really, raising money, campaigning, going all over the country.
This guy declares himself last week and he is right up there with Dean. So, to me, it's a reflection on the other candidates as much as it is the Dean phenomenon.
I think America loves a man in uniform. Democrats aren't any different than Republicans in this regard.
But once they get out there and they start listening to them, you know in that same speech he said something nice about Ronald Reagan. He called him a truly great American. That's the equivalent of somebody from CNN saying something nice about Fox, you know.
COLMES: You know when honesty comes forth, they actually do say those nice things.
KINGSTON: You know it just doesn't come through that much.
COLMES: Why should we…you know, for years we hear you complaining. Everybody complaints that people are too partisan, nobody gives credit to the other side, everybody sticks to their own side. Here's a guy who comes forward and gives credit where credit is due, changes his mind, perhaps, as he sees the world changing as it did after September 11. You know, wouldn't you want somebody who's open minded enough to say what's on his mind?
KINGSTON: You know I think the nonpartisanship is good. It's interesting that one of the big flaws in the Dean candidacy per Democrats is that he supported the Newt Gingrich Medicare reform. And, therefore, he's a flawed candidate. I think the bipartisanship is interesting.
But I also want to say, keep in mind, this is guy that said I would have voted to use force in Iraq, and then he said no I would not have wanted to. And so he's already doing the flip-flops. There are more flip- flops in the Democratic presidential candidates than there are in Daytona Beach in spring break.
CROWLEY: I'm sorry we have to leave it there. We have to leave it there. Congressman Jack Kingston and Congressman Rob Andrews, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
ANDREWS: You're very welcome.
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