This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, January 22, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: We are now joined, as we continue this look at tonight's debate, with one of the candidates, Joe Lieberman, senator from Connecticut now joins us.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, Sean.
HANNITY: ... how are you? Welcome back. It's always good to see you, sir.
LIEBERMAN: Good to be back, buddy.
HANNITY: You know, I was watching you tonight, and I actually agree with you again. I know this is killing your campaign. Every time Hannity says Joe Lieberman's a good guy, it kills you.
LIEBERMAN: No, it just proves that I'm a Democrat who actually has a chance to bring Democrats and Republicans and independents together. So thank you.
HANNITY: No, you -- what you say is -- I didn't say I was going to vote for you. I said I like you. I do like you.
LIEBERMAN: I understand. I don't want to carry it too far.
HANNITY: But you talked about how the GOP cannot run the normal playbook against you.
HANNITY: And I actually think you make a very valid point. You've taken a very different stance from your fellow Democrats. Explain in more detail.
LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, I felt really good about this debate. I thought it was my best, and I'm hopeful and believe it might just start the kind of popular uprising here against the favorite, John Kerry (search), as it did in Iowa against a favorite, Howard Dean (search), and it's because I -- I've been in this 30 years. I know who I am. I know what I stand for. I'm all about independence and consistency and not doing the political thing but trying to do what's right for the country.
LIEBERMAN: And that's what I laid out here. I think, ultimately the issues are important, but the voters measure the person. And so, as I said, you know, the Republicans are not going to be able to say I'm weak on defense. I'm not. Not going to say I'm a big taxer and spender. I'm not. With Bill Bennett there, I better say very quickly, since we fought some culture wars together, can't say I'm soft on values or faith because I'm not.
LIEBERMAN: So I think it will be a good, healthy debate and contest with President Bush, and I look forward to it.
HANNITY: You know, as we look at recent things, I have three instances, for example, here in front of me where John Kerry has flipped and flopped, not the least of which is voting for the war resolution and then obviously being against regime change. He voted for regime change in Iraq twice in his political career.
He voted for the Patriot Act (search). Now he condemns it. He voted for No Child Left Behind (search). Now he condemns it. Senator Edwards supported Social Security privatization. Now he condemns it. And you pointed out Wesley Clark was for this conflict, using strong rhetoric, and he's against it.
HANNITY: You are the only one that's been consistent. I will give you that.
LIEBERMAN: Well, to me, that's -- that's what this is about. I mean, I got into it, and I said, you know, I'm not going to waffle here. I'm going to say what I think is right. I mean, when they say that they voted for the war but against the money to support the troops that went to fight the war, I -- I couldn't do that.
No Child Left Behind was a bipartisan measure that was aimed at helping low-income kids get a better education by creating standards. I know it hasn't been implemented perfectly, it hasn't been funded adequately. But to repeal it would be to turn our backs on the promise of real equal educational opportunity...
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST : Senator...
LIEBERMAN: ... for our poorest kids.
COLMES: Senator Lieberman...
LIEBERMAN: So I...
COLMES: ... it's Alan. Good to have you back on the show.
LIEBERMAN: Alan, good to be back.
COLMES: Do you have to win New Hampshire to stay in this race?
LIEBERMAN: No. I always said that I had to do better than expected here. For me, New Hampshire was the beginning, not end. I'm going on to the seven states a week later, states that have moderate voters, minority voters, a lot of independent-minded voters, my kind of voters.
COLMES: Define "better than expected."
LIEBERMAN: Well, it's like beauty or pornography.
LIEBERMAN: You know, it's in the eye of the beholder. I'll know it and you'll know it when we see it.
COLMES: Do you have a percentage where you'll have to be?
LIEBERMAN: I don't. I tell you, I feel something good happening here. I've devoted a lot of time to this state. They've got a wonderful instinct in New Hampshire, as you know, not to follow Iowa. They want to make their own statement. Independents vote here in large numbers, and we're getting very good support from them.
Two hundred independents who voted in the Republican primary, supported John McCain in 2000, are out working for me this year in the Democratic primary. So I'm optimistic about how we're going to do, and I think this performance tonight in the debate, in which I stuck to my convictions, is really going to help me.
COLMES: I want to talk about the statement you made just now -- you made it earlier today...
COLMES: ... about being strong on values and strong on the faith- based initiative and tax cutter. How do you distinguish yourself from the Republicans? And isn't that something that's propelling some of the other Democratic candidates, where they're clearly defining themselves as different than President Bush on these very issues?
LIEBERMAN: Yes. Well, you know what I say, Alan, that I'm an independent-minded Democrat. I mean that. And I'm like most voters, who don't vote the party line, proud as I am to be a Democrat, but do what they think is right.
So you can take my positions on environmental protection or Civil Rights or a woman's right to choose, quite progressive. But on values, on defense, on security...
HANNITY: Hey, Senator...
LIEBERMAN: ... I may be conservative.
HANNITY: I have the most important question. I got to keep you -- to hold you over in the break here.
LIEBERMAN: All right.
COLMES: I want to put up on our screen the latest Fox News "You Decide" poll. Of those voting in the Democratic primary, 55 percent know - - they're certain about whom they're going to support, 44 percent may change their minds. So between now and Tuesday, that's an awful lot of people who aren't yet sure specifically. That's got to help you -- who they're going to support.
LIEBERMAN: Absolutely right, Alan. That is exactly what I'm finding as I go around the state. And I'm very hopeful that my strong performance tonight, and again, the fact that folks can rely on me, they know what kind of president I'll be. They know I'm not going to play politics. In a tough time in our nation's history, I'm going to do the best I can for them and the country.
LIEBERMAN: You talked, and so has the president, about we are in a time of war. President Bush has portrayed himself as a wartime president. Do you then have to fight the issue that people may not want to change leadership at a time perceived as America being vulnerable?
LIEBERMAN: Well, that's one of the reasons I truly believe that I'm the strongest Democratic candidate in November because I can stand toe to toe with President Bush on security. You know, I'm the only candidate on the Democratic side left that supported both the Gulf war and this current war against Saddam.
I wrote the Homeland Security Department (search) bill with others. Of course, I supported the $87 billion to support our troops. So I can stand toe to toe with the president on security, and then make the difference on the economy and health insurance and retirement security, where a lot of average Americans are still really hurting.
HANNITY: Hey, Senator, I watched your fellow Democrats here, those -- your fellow contenders. They're really going very far to the left in the hopes of getting this nomination. And you are the only one, frankly, that I believe has a very reasonable position, especially on the war on terror. And I actually commend you for your principled stance.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Sean. Thank you.
HANNITY: I don't understand -- I've looked at your poll numbers around the country. I -- and I -- I'm frankly -- I don't understand why you're not doing better in the polls.
HANNITY: Does it say something about the state of the Democratic Party today?
LIEBERMAN: Well, I sure hope not. And you know, I think this is going to rise. But I got to tell you, I'm doing what I think is right. I believe, as we've said before, that part of being a Democrat, part of being a candidate for president, is to be strong on defense, like Truman and Kennedy were.
HANNITY: And FDR. Right.
LIEBERMAN: And if you don't have that -- FDR. If you don't have that, we're not going to gain the trust of the people to govern. So all I can say is...
LIEBERMAN: ... I'm giving the voters a choice, and I still have a great confidence...
LIEBERMAN: ... that they're going to come around.
HANNITY: Now, here's a position -- and I'm not -- I'm not saying this to be funny here, but I'm really serious about this. Your position on the most important issue of our time is far closer to that of the president than any one of the guys that you're up against in the Democratic Party.
So if you were not to win this nomination, would you consider -- because this is the defining issue of our time -- would you consider voting for the president, who you are closer to on this issue?
LIEBERMAN: Sean, I love you, but...
HANNITY: I'm trying. I'm trying.
LIEBERMAN: No, I know I would not, and it's because I disagree with the president on so many other areas, like wages, economic growth, jobs, health insurance, education and retirement, security, and of course, environmental protection.
But I'm going to stay and fight. But it's where the Democratic Party ought to be and must be...
HANNITY: Right. Let me ask you this...
LIEBERMAN: ... if we're going to win again.
HANNITY: All right, when I look at these candidates -- I mentioned a lot of flip-flopping on war, on No Child Left behind, on the Patriot Act, Wes Clark's flip-flopping positions. When you see that, do you think these men are lacking in principles and core values, when they will turn on a dime to win a nomination, your fellow candidates?
LIEBERMAN: Well, you know, that's up to the voters. And again...
HANNITY: But what do you think when you hear the flip-flops?
LIEBERMAN: I'm going to say -- I haven't flip-flopped. And you know, I think one of the great challenges in American politics in both parties is not to be drawn to the extremes during the nominating process, so you still have a chance to win in the fall.
COLMES: We're just out of time. Senator, thanks so much.
LIEBERMAN: Take care, guys.
COLMES: And I appreciate your being with us.
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