This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 16, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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JOHN KASICH, GUEST HOST: In the "Factor Original" segment tonight, how would Abraham Lincoln have handled the growing threat of terrorism?  Would he have gone to war in Iraq?  And what would he do with Osama bin Laden?  The former Democratic Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, wrote a book about it, "Why Lincoln Matters: Today More than Ever."  He recently spoke with Bill about it.


O'REILLY:  Governor, it is a fearsome war that we're fighting against Al Qaeda and the other terrorists.  Would you agree with that?


O'REILLY:  It's fearsome.  And it's a war unlike any other in American history, because there's no doomsday deterrent.  If they get a nuclear device, they'll kill as many of us as they can.  Isn't it time for a change in the rules of engagement?  Wouldn't Abraham Lincoln say, "I've got to change here to meet the threat?"

CUOMO:  He did.  He changed the constitution.  He changed all the rules.  As a matter of fact, he changed them so much, I disagreed with them -- suspended the writ of habeas corpus immediately, he started locking up people.  Every president does that in times of emergency.  That doesn't mean it's right.  And I think he went beyond what was necessary.

O'REILLY:  We have people who want to destroy us who have no rules at all, and shouldn't we change, be nimble enough to change?

CUOMO:  We have to be very precise, Bill, about where the threat is.  If you're talking about the terrorists, Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan with the Taliban, that was more properly called a war than would normally be the case with terrorism, because you had a particular defined group, the Al Qaeda, and you had a known target, and that is the war that we should have completed but didn't.

Lincoln would have fought that war viciously, the way he fought the Civil War.  Once he was in it, once you dragged him in, he went all out to win.  He was even a lover of weapons of mass destruction, as you know.  And so, yes, there he would have fought it fiercely.

O'REILLY:  You're talking about the Gatling gun and all these...

CUOMO:  Absolutely.

O'REILLY:  ... and all of these new weapons.

CUOMO:  Bill, he would have fought more fiercely than we did, because what we did was then do something Lincoln would not have done -- a preemptive war against Iraq, which diluted the war in Afghanistan.  He wouldn't have done that.

O'REILLY:  But if Lincoln had intelligence information that said there were weapons of mass destruction available to a fanatical dictator that could hand them off to a fanatical terrorist, Osama bin Laden, wouldn't Lincoln have thought about removing the fanatical dictator when he had legal precedent to do so because of the cease fire violations?

CUOMO:  You know, if you're saying, "Did Bush have any excuse for making a mistake," probably.  I say in the book that we have a couple of choices.  We can believe that Bush lied...

O'REILLY:  Or Clinton and Blair and everybody else.

CUOMO:  I don't believe he lied.

O'REILLY:  No, I don't either.

CUOMO:  I think he was misled.

O'REILLY:  Right, so do I.

CUOMO:  That doesn't mean he's not accountable.  That doesn't mean you should give him another chance to be misled.  It was, perhaps, the most grotesque mistake in modern history for a president to make.

O'REILLY:  If it turns out that it's a waste in Iraq -- see, if the Iraq situation stabilizes and we get control of the area there, then it doesn't turn out to be such a big mistake.

CUOMO:  No, Bill, I think maybe you can fool some people into thinking that, but it will have been a mistake.

O'REILLY:  Reading your book, "Why Lincoln Matters: Today More than Ever," somebody's going to say, oh, this is such a scholastic thing, I can't read it.

CUOMO:  Yeah.

O'REILLY:  But that's not what it is.

CUOMO:  That's why I sent it to people like you.

O'REILLY:  Yeah, if I can get through it, anybody can.  You just insulted me, Governor.

CUOMO:  No, no.  It's a serious book.  But it's a small book.  It's like his wings (ph) book.

O'REILLY:  Right.

CUOMO:  It's a small book, and you can read it as essayist.  The piece on religion I'm very intrigued by, and I worked very hard on that.  But there's religion, preemptive war, there's race...

O'REILLY:  All the things that matter today.

CUOMO:  Yeah.

O'REILLY:  And we appreciate you coming in, Governor.

CUOMO:  I appreciate the opportunity.  Thank you, Bill.


KASICH:  And that's it for us today.  As always, I want to thank you for watching The Factor.  And remember, Saturday night at eight o'clock, my show, "Heartland."  Hey, if you want to go out to dinner, forget about it.  Order in.  It's a great show, "Heartland," Saturday night at eight.

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