Former Bush Advisor Mary Matalin on Bush's Endorsement of McCain

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," March 5, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Welcome to "Hannity & Colmes." We're glad you are with us. I'm Sean Hannity. We get right to our top story tonight. It is the day after Super Tuesday II and the dust has settled only on the Republican side, with Senator John McCain clinching the G.O.P. nomination. Now this morning, he carried the momentum and locked in the president's endorsement.

Meanwhile, the political landscape on the Democratic side is less clear than ever, with Hillary Clinton pulling out those do or die victories in Rhode Island, Ohio, and Texas. And the question of her dropping out is now a distant memory.

Watch the interview with Mary Matalin

So now what? Here to help us sort through all of this is former Bush adviser Mary Matalin. Mary, always good to see you.

MARY MATALIN, FORMER BUSH ADVISER: Hi, guys. This is quite a year, as we have been saying all year.

HANNITY: Well, that is true. By the way, I debated James. Last time we were telling you it was coming up. I have got to tell you something, he is hard to debate. He is too funny. And he cracks a lot of jokes. But he is just wrong on everything.

MATALIN: There is that. So, we have now established that he is wrong on everything, as is his party. So onward, onward. But his girl is doing OK. His girl is doing pretty good, isn't she?

HANNITY: I'm sorry? No, she did very well.

MATALIN: Enormous achievement.

HANNITY: Before we get to that, now you were supporting Senator Fred Thompson. We saw John McCain with the president today. Are you happy with Senator McCain? Is this somebody conservatives will support in the end?

MATALIN: Just for the record, and particularly because he is there, I was originally for George Allen, and subsequently for Fred Thompson, since they were the best constitutionalists and federalists in the race and in the party.

Yes, I'm happy with John McCain. And he always surprises. He was so — we think of him as straight talk but in two cases specifically, he has been so eloquent. And he is not only been a great speaker, he has been very articulate on those principles that conservatives really care about and are wanting to hear from him. This first was in the CPAC speech and last was in his speech last night. It was very eloquent and hit on all the themes and policies and principles that conservatives need to hear. And he is getting eight out of 10 conservatives. He will be fine.

HANNITY: Look, I like the fact that he said, no new taxes. I like the fact that he's going to end earmarks. He will certainly appoint better judges and he's right in the war in the Iraq. I think those are issues enough that I think wherever you may have disagreement with the senator that you could agree with him on those things. All right.

MATALIN: Well, let's go back to the economic policy, too. It's very important, because with conservatives, economic conservatives want to hear growth policies, and his Wall Street Journal front page article about some of those that he is going to adopt, starting with cutting corporate tax rates, which is a real incentive to productivity.

HANNITY: I want to go to the Democratic side and, as you said, James' girl, Hillary Clinton, did very well last night. But as you look at the numbers, and with proportional distribution of the delegates, Mary, the fact is it's going to be very, very hard for her to come back and for her to win the nomination, as I see it. She has got to go against what she supported, which was the DNC rules not to seat Florida and Michigan. And she has got to have some smoke-filled back room deal with the super delegates.

What that would mean is that Barack Obama, who in free, fair, open elections would win the popular vote, maybe by a million or more, that would win the delegate battle, that he would have this thing taken away from him. What would that do to the Democratic party? And, secondly, all this talk about them joining together; how could Barack in good conscience do that?

MATALIN: Well, neither — he is in the same situation she is. We are talking about the numbers, but neither of them can get to the requisite number of elected delegates. He can't — if he goes all the way and wins at the proportion at which he has been winning, he can't get there either. It's always going to come down to the superdelegates, the add on delegates, whatever the heck those are, and John Edwards' delegates, who are going to be —

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Mary, good to have you back on our show.

MATALIN: Hey, Alan.

COLMES: Twenty-seven million votes were cast; 3,300, in terms of the popular vote, separate the two. I don't know where the million or more would come from, if that would ultimately be the case. But right now, they are separated in the popular vote, if you include Michigan and Florida, by a little over 3,000 votes. Mary, I'm interested to hear you talk about John McCain tonight the way you have, because on January 31st on this show, you said, and I quote, "John McCain has problems. He hasn't made a dent in winning the hearts and minds of the conservatives that the party has built upon."

You went after him on immigration, on taxes, on the madness of his leap into the pseudo-religious global warming bandwagon. You said that on another show. This is what you were saying about John McCain a month ago.

MATALIN: That's right. I still agree with his position on "global warming." But I don't disagree with the market-based energy overhaul or a market based entitlement reform. I think he will get there much quicker and more comfortably than the other side. There are issues on which we disagreed and many conservatives did. And he is making great strides in addressing those, while bringing Democrats and independents into the Republican party on conservative principles, which is completely possible. Reagan did it.

COLMES: I'm not sure he's doing that. The more he panders to the right wing, the less he is going to attract those independents and conservative Democrats.

MATALIN: You can call it pandering or you can talk about expressing and conveying core principles and applying them to 21st century problems, as I'm sure George Allen will be able to articulate better than I later.

COLMES: I'm talking about a guy who had very key positions, strong positions on certain key issues for years and years and years, and now, all of a sudden, he is taking different positions. It sounds to me, timing-wise, to appease those on the right, his right flank, who he feels he needs at this point?

MATALIN: Oh, Alan. You know, democracy works.

COLMES: Yes, can I help you?

MATALIN: Democracy works. If you want to talk about taking positions that — forget about pandering. They're just completely irrational. What did your two icons of democracy do this last week? They completely capitulated on NAFTA, which is responsible for an exponential percentage of our growth. Our exports is what is propping up the slow growth that we have right now. And they manage to alienate our best friend, our neighbor to the north. It's just — don't even talk to me about this.

COLMES: You're playing a game of he said, he said on the NAFTA Canada situation. Nobody has changed their position. John McCain has changed his position on immigration, on torture, and on the Bush tax cuts. And I go down the list of things that have changed since he became the darling of conservatives all of a sudden.

MATALIN: No, no, no, Alan. Don't. Don't. We are not going to have a campaign like this, where you are going to mischaracterize. I'm not mischaracterizing.

COLMES: Sure you are. On NAFTA you just did.

MATALIN: No, I'm not. Hillary and both Barack and Mrs. Clinton — Senator Clinton and Senator Obama both said that it had been enormous benefit to this country. When they got to Ohio, they both flipped on that. That's a matter of record. John McCain has walked through where he was on the Bush tax cuts then, and why he was where he was and where he is today, and where he is going to do — what he is going to do going forward. This is called democracy.

And then everyone is going to fight over these swing votes. Right now, John McCain is getting twice as many Democrats as Barack Obama is getting Republicans. They are all splitting the independents, but John McCain is winning on every single issue except for healthcare and he hasn't laid out his plan yet...

COLMES: Well, he doesn't have a plan on healthcare yet.

MATALIN: ...The country wants market-based health care plan. Yes, we have the — the Republicans have a plan to reduce health care costs, and it would have been passed already if your people didn't step in front of it when Bush put it out there.

COLMES: I am your people.

Yes, Alan. There is history. There is data...

COLMES: I am sure we'll talk...

MATALIN: ...There is a record. Go to it.

COLMES: All right. Go back to James and argue with him now. We thank you very much for coming on the program.

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