This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," January 18, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hard to believe, but just 293 days left until the November elections, and the battle lines are already being drawn. Just a few hours ago, Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama defended Senator Hillary Clinton for comparing the U.S. House of Representatives to a, quote, "plantation." Senator Obama said the former first lady to referring to the consolidation of power in Washington that leaves voters out.
But how do comments like these impact African-American Republicans? Joining us now, a man who has repeatedly attacked, some say, for being a black conservative, Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele. He's also a candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Steele, thank you for being with us.
LT. GOVERNOR MICHAEL STEELE (R), MARYLAND SENATE CANDIDATE: It's great to be with you, Alan.
COLMES: You know, we had Lawrence Guyote on the show yesterday. We had Charles Barron, both of whom pretty much defend Hillary Clinton, although Barron was not crazy about that comment. Not every African-American is offended by that, and I didn't hear people speak out when Republicans said it. Why not?
STEELE: Well, I think — first off, let's just deal with the reality of the situation here. I've always been amused that somehow white politicians seem to have to speak differently before black audiences. And I thought it was rather presumptuous to presume that that audience of educated, sophisticated African-Americans would know anything about how a plantation is run in the first instance...
COLMES: But why not get upset when Newt Gingrich says it?
STEELE: ... since that is far from their experience. And I think what we need to get to is a point of, you know, given Senator Obama's comment, he could have referred to a monopoly. He could have — she could have referred to any of number of other institutions that monopolize power and consolidate power. The concept of the plantation and the use of that word is a pejorative term...
COLMES: But it was a metaphor.
STEELE: ... that's designed to elicit a particular effect.
COLMES: Mr. Steele, were you upset when all these Republicans who I mentioned did it? And furthermore, she didn't just do it for Al Sharpton's group. She said it on a news network — whose initials I don't remember — a couple of years ago to a broader audience. So why the double standard?
STEELE: Well, the double standard exists because, as Dick Morris said earlier, there is a difference between comments that are made by a Republican, elected or non-elected, official, and a Democrat one. That's just the way the standard is, the way the media responds to it and it is the way the parties themselves react.
If you look at the standard that was employed by the Republicans, with respect to its leadership in the Lott situation, versus the Chuck Schumer situation and my case, where my credit report was stolen, and the lack of sincerity, and apology, and acknowledgement that wrongdoing had occurred, you know, it's like, "Well, it's OK, he's a black Republican," versus, "Well, gee, you know, he's a white Republican," and, you know, we have to go after him.
So the difference — there is a difference in how the standard is applied. And my perspective is very simply this: There's a way to communicate and elicit a response from any audience, without having to go into the gutter, without having to conjure up images of hatred and dissention that divide people...
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Michael...
STEELE: ... instead of bringing them together. If you want to be the president of the United States someday, you think you'd have another way to communicate your message.
HANNITY: I want to go through some of the things that you have suffered, because you were targeted — and as far as I know, the only person targeted — by the group that is headed up by Chuck Schumer, in terms of...
HANNITY: ... your credit report. Can you give us a status report on that and tell the story of how you were attacked, and at different events, and who do you think was responsible? They were throwing Oreo cookies at you and the like.
STEELE: Well, exactly. The long and short of it is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, is still looking into this matter, with respect to the theft of my Social Security number from court documents and, ultimately, the theft of my credit report by two individuals from the Democratic Senatorial Com that's headed up by Senator Schumer.
So they're still looking into that. Those employees were fired some 30 or 45 days after the fact was leaked out that this had occurred. But my experience in Maryland running statewide, you know, there was — there are any number of folks, Democrats and others, who felt that...
HANNITY: Let me...
STEELE: ... "Well, this guy is a threat." And, you know, Oreo cookies went at our debate in 2002, with Governor Ehrlich, were tossed in our direction.
HANNITY: Let me ask you this.
STEELE: Those types of things are just ignorant.
HANNITY: It is ignorant. And it's sad that, in this day and age, that that happened. There is a reverse racism out there, Michael, and you've suffered under this.
STEELE: Yep. Yep.
HANNITY: And I've had friends of mine that have suffered there. Their only fault is they are conservative and they happen to be an African- American. It's disgraceful.
HANNITY: But why is there this double standard? You started to talk about it, Trent Lott versus Hillary's comments, versus...
STEELE: I think...
HANNITY: Why does Hillary not have to, for example, suffer the consequences of associating with Harry Belafonte and his outrageous comments about Colin Powell or about the president, or even Mayor Nagin's comments about a chocolate city?
STEELE: Oh, I think it's how the parties themselves kind of respond to it. There seems to be a ginning up, if you will, when these types of things occur within the Republican ranks, from the Democratic side, and it's almost a "gotcha" mentality.
Whereas Republicans kind of look at it and they say, "It's ignorant. It's stupid. We're better people than that, and we need to get past that and get to points where we are talking and communicating about how we can work and build together."
COLMES: All right, Lieutenant Governor, we...
STEELE: And I think that's the difference right now.
COLMES: Thank you for coming on.
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