Laura Ingraham on Presidential Candidates, Britney Spears

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 11, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the week in review from "The Ingraham Angle" segment tonight, Laura has a beef with political candidates who use entertainment vehicles to sell themselves. I talked with Ms. Ingraham last night when she was thawing out from her New Hampshire experience.


O'REILLY: Here is Laura Ingraham, indoors, ladies and gentlemen. We saw her standing in the snows of New Hampshire. You looked like you had an interesting time up there. But I...

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We were making snow angels for you, Bill. All of us.

O'REILLY: An angel making snow angels. Isn't that poetic? There you go.

Now, this is what everybody is asking me. Who does Laura Ingraham favor at this juncture in the race? What say you?

INGRAHAM: You know that I'm not endorsing anyone. I like bits and pieces of all the candidates, Bill. I mean, I like people like Duncan Hunter, who doesn't have a chance, and a lot about Fred Thompson I like.

But what's happened in this race is absolutely fascinating, because none of these guys has really emerged. So Huckabee emerged, stepped into the light in Iowa and said, "Look, I'm connecting with all these people who are anxious about the economy, and I understand you. I'm like you. I'm an evangelical." He didn't really work with that in New Hampshire.

But John McCain was the favorite son there, from winning before in New Hampshire — he stepped into the gap there. And now we have a whole new ballgame in South Carolina and Michigan.

O'REILLY: All right. So who do you admire? Let's put it that way. Who do you admire? When I say the word "admire," of all the presidential candidates, what name pops into your head the quickest?

INGRAHAM: Probably Duncan Hunter and Mitt Romney. Look, I admire anyone who can go out there day in and day out. You know what it's like to be on the road. You've been on the book tours.

O'REILLY: You don't want to admire Hillary Clinton. Don't give me day in and day out here.

INGRAHAM: No, no, no, no. I'm saying that if you, day in and day out, go on the campaign trail, you subject yourself to the scrutiny that all these guys get now. You have to duke it out.

If you're up one day, you're going to get pummeled by everyone in your party. You saw that with Romney. You've seen that even with Giuliani when he was considered the person to be beat. And so you're subjecting yourself to this.

Yes, I actually do admire anyone who wants to stand up and get the shot taken to be president.

O'REILLY: Some of these people are not good people. Just because you'll take a punch doesn't make you a good person.

INGRAHAM: I don't know. I'm not going down that road. I'm a conservative. So I'd like the person who carries on the Reagan mantel the best.

O'REILLY: All right. What is it that you admire about Governor Romney? Because as you said, he's getting pounded now.

INGRAHAM: Sure. I mean, I think Governor Romney has one thing going which I'm not sure he's highlighting enough, and I don't know if it's too late. He's actually run something; he's actually made a payroll. He's actually created jobs with the investments that Bain Capital made. And he has that chief executive experience in turning things around in very difficult times.

I like that, especially what we're looking at in this economy. Especially with the Chinese, economic competition with India. And he understands the global marketplace. And I think we need someone like that. I like that about him.

O'REILLY: All right. So you like his business acumen.


O'REILLY: He is a man of accomplishment. Senator Obama is getting a free pass from the media. I think you'd agree with that, wouldn't you?

INGRAHAM: Not on my show. But yes, a free pass from the mainstream media.

O'REILLY: We're talking about the — not the talk radio commentators but the press, you know, the newspapers.

But if you look at his voting record, as the Washington Post, which I believe is a Clinton — extension of their machine, you find that the senator has not really made a stand very much in his whole career. Now, that might even help him though because you can't pin him down.

INGRAHAM: He's an empty vessel, Bill. Everybody is pouring their life hopes and ambitions into the empty vessel known as Barack Obama.

O'REILLY: He might be a genius.

INGRAHAM: Well, maybe he is. But what he doesn't have is a record. And the record that he does have indicates, at least to me, that he's probably to the left of Hillary Clinton on most issues. On taxes, on foreign policy.

O'REILLY: Very liberal.

INGRAHAM: Diplomacy and on abortion, even.

O'REILLY: So he's running as a uniter not a divider. Where did we hear that before?

INGRAHAM: Well, I think when you saw John Kerry yesterday stand up for Barack Obama, I don't know about you, Bill, but I really thought, by golly, that's change.

O'REILLY: OK. Now Huckabee went on "Colbert," was it, and you have a beef with that. Let's roll the tape.


MIKE HUCKABEE, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, you promised me you would be my running mate.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Sir, I'm so glad to hear you honor that promise. I was afraid that maybe I was going to have to let you out of that.

HUCKABEE: I will keep that promise, because after all, the only reason I'm the front-runner now is because of the Colbert bump. If it were not for that, I would not be sitting in this chair. I would probably be somewhere serving hamburgers at a drive-in restaurant.

COLBERT: Hamburgers? Or Hucka-burgers?


O'REILLY: All right. Now you didn't like that.

INGRAHAM: Well, I just think it's kind of silly. I mean, I understand why he goes on these shows because he feels like he can reach an audience that otherwise doesn't learn much about him. I do understand that.

However, Bill, I think we are now on the verge of electing an entertainer in chief and not a commander in chief. I mean, we had a suicide bomber in Pakistan yesterday. We have the situation in the Gulf with our frigates and the altercation with the fast boats. We obviously have a very difficult situation still in Iraq even with the progress. And so I think somehow the celebrity...

O'REILLY: You think it trivializes the thing to have Huckabee and others do that?

INGRAHAM: I do. And I think that, in 2012, Bill, we could very well have a situation where someone like a Jon Stewart moderates a debate and Whoopi Goldberg is one of the questioners. That's where we're going.

O'REILLY: I don't think it will go that far.

INGRAHAM: I don't know. I don't know where we're going.

O'REILLY: But you never know.

Now finally, I want to — you have been on a campaign on your radio program to get the American public to reject the pop culture stories like Britney Spears.

Now here's an Associated Press memo that we got a hold of. It says: "Now and for the foreseeable future, virtually everything involving Britney Spears is a big deal."

And that is because people are caught up now in the woman's drama, the drama of her life. Is that a bad thing?

INGRAHAM: Is that a chicken and egg problem though? I mean, they're caught up in it precisely because the media salivates over every detail of this poor woman, poor, pathetic, bratty, ungrateful or sick woman. Whatever it is, whatever combo that is, we, the media, have fed it to the American public.

And meanwhile China militarizes space. We have a precarious situation in many parts of Africa. Our own economy is teetering on the brink. And yet, we have these cameras going down to Mexico to see what the latest…

O'REILLY: Comic relief, we just need relief from...

INGRAHAM: Bill, if you want to find a strung-out kid in Hollywood, that's really easy reporting, OK?

O'REILLY: Oh, it is. I mean, there's nothing skillful about it.

INGRAHAM: No, it's pathetic.

O'REILLY: I'm not sure on this issue. I'm still thinking it through...


O'REILLY: ...whether it's a good or a bad thing. If it's done at the end of the book, if it's a little diversion…


O'REILLY: Britney Spears, I don't care. But I wouldn't criticize somebody for taking an interest.

INGRAHAM: What good is served by the media's focus on Britney Spears, honestly?

O'REILLY: NO good. I'm talking about the folks' interest, not the media.

INGRAHAM: The folks would — yes, but the folks like to see a live execution on the air, but we're not going to do that either, are we? Or are we?

O'REILLY: I don't know. I heard that MSNBC may do that.

All right. Laura Ingraham everybody. We'll see you next week.

INGRAHAM: All right, Bill.

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