Mary Matalin on McCain

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," January 30, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: And joining us now from the Ritz Carleton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida — why are you laughing at that, Mary?

MARY MATALIN, FMR BUSH ADVISER: Doing gods work out here, Alan.

COLMES: Life is tough there at Ritz Carleton?

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: By the way, that's my favorite place in the world.


COLMES: Let me just try to get through the intro. Former Bush adviser — there she is at the Ritz Carleton in Naples, Florida, Mary Matalin. You were supporting Fred Thompson. Any chance he becomes a vice president for somebody?

MATALIN: No. He didn't get into the race for any other reason than to support and advocate and promote the consistent conservative traditions and principles and the policies that they spawn. He's contributed honorably and mightily to the race. Everyone's using his language now, talking about federalism and limited government and doing social security reform.

COLMES: I'm a participant in and a big fan of talk radio, as you once did it yourself. I listen to Sean Hannity. I listen to Rush Limbaugh, and I hear them talking about John McCain not really being a conservative. Is that you're view that the Republicans may be about to nominate somebody who's not conservative enough for your tastes?

MATALIN: You know, what Rush and Sean and Laura and the great one, Mark Levin, do — they're not directing this audience. They're reflecting the values of a very huge audience, millions and millions and millions, scores of millions of people who are consistent, traditional, across the board conservatives, and there are — John McCain has problems.

He is obviously lining up some institutional support here with Governor Schwarzenegger and what not. But he hasn't made a dent in winning the hearts and minds of the conservatives that the party has been built on.

COLMES: Where are all those people going to go, if indeed, let's say, at some point Huckabee may decide he's going to go away. He's still in the campaign, of course. But where are those people going to go if McCain is the nominee?

MATALIN: Well, that's what Senator McCain's sort of approach right now is, where are you going to go? But in addition to unity, we need enthusiasm and energy. And you know where conservatives go when they're not energized and enthusiastic about their candidates or about what they're, they're — what's happening? They don't do — they turn them out. This is what happened in 2006. It's not like we have to look back in history to see what conservative do when their office holders are not performing in a conservative method.

And listen, six out of ten voters in the primary and in the party at large are conservatives. What John McCain is winning is the non-conservatives. I'm not saying he's not a conservative or he won't be a good candidate, but he's not winning the hearts and minds of those very people that this party is built on. You can get all the Democrats you want and independents —

COLMES: I know you can go down the list of things where he's worked with Feingold and he's worked with Kennedy, and Sean will mention the Gang of 14, and all the stuff he's done that doesn't sit well with conservatives. But if you have a John McCain — and I don't have a dog in that hunt. I'm a liberal Democrat. Who would he appoint to the Supreme Court? Not liberals. Who would he appoint to other courts? Not liberals. He's pro-life. Go down the list of litmus test issues. I don't understand. I'm scratching my head trying to figure out why the animosity, in some cases, toward a guy who is, in my view, a true conservative, John McCain.

MATALIN: Look, there's not animosity, it's trust but verify. We've had Republican presidents whom I've adored who have put bad choices on the court. This is what a huge number of conservatives live and die for is the court, and unfortunately for Senator McCain, he said recently that he doesn't like Justices like Alito, who wear their conservatism on their sleeve. That's just the kind of thing that makes people crazy and makes them continue to distrust him.

And his association with the "Gang of 14" and all that — there's few things more important than the justices for the conservatives that he needs.

HANNITY: Mary, you're at my favorite place in the whole world. I go down to Naples often. And I'm going to be down there sometime in February. Welcome back to the program. I raised this issue on my radio program today, and I told my audience, you know what, after all the positions I've taken over the years, John McCain's right on immigration, supporting amnesty, and Sean Hannity was wrong. He was right about limiting free speech with McCain-Feingold, I've changed my position, I'm wrong. He was wrong — he was right in not supporting the Bush tax cuts; he was right in the use of his class warfare rhetoric; he was right in not supporting drilling in ANWR (Artctic National Wildlife Refuge); he wasn't right to oppose the death tax; he was right at Guantanamo, interrogations.

I'm supposed to change all of my opinions because John McCain is, quote, "the likely nominee," as appointed by my friend Alan Colmes.

COLMES: Thank you.

MATALIN: Listen, Sean, James and I were driving from Orlando to Naples, and I tuned in when you were going through that litany. And I got sick to my stomach. I was gasping for breath. And James was laughing, he said, it's a spoof. And I said, "No, listen to him. I can't believe he's doing —" I emailed the great one. I said, Mark, tell me this is a spoof. And he said, of course, it's a spoof. I had such a bad stomach ache. Don't ever do that again.

HANNITY: I'm doing my job then. My only point is I don't have anything personal against Senator McCain. But I'm sorry, on real issues that matter to me. You know, what's funny, for all the years those of us that have supported the president on the war, on his tax cuts, his judicial nominations, but then had substantive disagreements, we've often been accused of being, quote, "lockstep in the Republican party," and here we're standing on things that we have stood for for years, and we're being criticized for being consistent. I find it stunning that anyone would expect anything other than that.

MATALIN: You know, this thing will iron itself out. But if it wasn't for you and Rush and Laura and the great one, we wouldn't have Alito and Roberts on the court. We would have had the Dubai ports. We would have had porous borders. We would have had very weak immigration. We wouldn't have had the support for extending the tax cuts that we're having. Everything is — you guys have driven so much, and you've taught people the principles that underlie these policies, and those are the policies that have to perpetuate into the 21st century and apply to these new sets of problems, and you all are doing it.

HANNITY: I agree. And I think the Reagan principles remain the same applied to new problems.

Alright. Now, here's the last question. I have big debate against James. The question is, I want to know all of his weaknesses. Tim Russert is moderating a debate we have coming up in Long Island in just a couple of weeks, and so I'm expecting all the advise you can give me coming up shortly.

MATALIN: Listen, his biggest weakness is he's supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton. So you've just got to go there. That speaks for itself.

COLMES: I know who's going to win that debate. Ron Paul.

MATALIN: Love you guys. See you next week.

HANNITY: Mary, we love you. Thanks for being with us.

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