McCain's VP Wooing Female Voters?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 9, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: The latest Washington Post/ABC News polls show John McCain with a 53-41 percent advantage among white women voters. That's up to nine points from pre-convention levels when McCain was trailing Obama by eight.

Could McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, have anything to do with this momentum?

Joining us now former Bush advisor and global vice-chairman at Burson- Marsteller, Karen Hughes.

Karen, welcome back. It's been a while. Good to have you back with us.

KAREN HUGHES, FORMER BUSH ADVISOR: Thanks. It's great to be back.

Video: Watch Sean and Alan's interview with Karen Hughes

COLMES: So you see this as the Palin effect or is this post convention bounce?

HUGHES: Well, I think it's a combination of the two. I think that Governor Palin managed to energize a lot of our base and also reach beyond it.

I think a lot of people are excited about her candidacy. She's clearly a breath of fresh air from Alaska, I heard someone call her. But I also think her selection reinforced the strengths of Senator McCain.

The fact that he is the real reformer in this race, that he's a candidate who will shake up the status quo, who has a record of reaching across the aisle, of taking on even members of his own party as Governor Palin also did in Alaska.

So I think she's both reinforced and energized our base. It was electric in the hall when she gave her speech, I was there. But she's also, I think, been able to remind people about Senator McCain, about his record, and about what he brings to this race as well.

COLMES: Karen, I'm glad there's a woman on the ticket. It breaks the glass ceiling for the Republicans. I don't agree with Sarah Palin, but it's ground-breaking to have a woman on the ticket. So either we have the first African-American president or the fist female vice president.

But how do you call it reaching across the aisle when he chooses a woman, not only because she's female, but because she is a rock solid conservative to firm up his base?

That's not reaching across the aisle.

HUGHES: Well, I think it is reaching across the aisle. He's reached to someone who is a reformer, who's taken on the status quo, the special interests in her own state, who's fought corruption, who has taken on even members of her own Republican Party, and I think that reinforces and reminds the people of America who John McCain is and what John McCain is all about.

And I heard someone earlier talk about John McCain being with George Bush. Well, yes, sometimes he is and sometimes he's not. He's very much his own man as I learned when we campaigned against him back in 2000 when he ran against my boss at the time, then governor Bush, in the Republican primary.

COLMES: Why would a woman — why would women who supported Hillary Clinton on issue after issue, support Sarah Palin for whom the issues are the total opposite? Why would women flip from Hillary Clinton to Governor Palin with a totally different life — world view?

HUGHES: Well, for several reasons. First of all, because I think women really are worried about security. They're worried about their families, they're worried about their children.

Barack Obama does not have the kind of experience, as Hillary Clinton herself reminded us with that infamous 3:00 a.m. phone call. He just doesn't have the level of experience and he certainly doesn't have any of the kind of executive experience that Sarah Palin has.

You know I was laughing when I heard him deriding her experience as a small-town mayor. I don't think there's too many jobs in politics.


HUGHES: . that are harder than being a small-town mayor, because you live with your constituents. You go to church with them.

HANNITY: Hey, Karen.

HUGHES: . you see them in the grocery store, and that's the kind of practical everyday experience that I'd like to see a lot more of in Washington.

HANNITY: And they also insulted her. They won't even acknowledge that she's the governor of one of the largest states or largest state in the country. And I want to get your take on this here.

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. We showed the background. Obviously that audience knew what he was referring to in light of Sarah Palin's remarks. We've got Joe Biden, a woman that might be vice president, a backward step for women.

Joe Biden is introduced by a congressman, no way you can dress up that record, even with a lot of lipstick.

You know if John McCain had said these things, what would the reaction be? And I'm getting the sense that Barack Obama is losing it with all the mistakes that he's making, and certainly he's not appearing presidential in the last two weeks.

What are your thoughts?

HUGHES: Well, he certainly is engaging in a lot more name-calling, and it's very interesting and I think it's very interesting how our president nominee has apparently gotten his attention.

You know one of the rules in politics as you debate your opponent, you don't — the presidential candidate should not be engaging the vice presidential candidate of the other party, and that's what he's been doing for the last two — days. And so I think it's very interesting.

I don't know what he intended by that, but it does seem to be a little suspicious that both of them used the word lipstick very deliberately, after that very memorable line, which, by the way, I was in the convention hall, and it really resonated, not only with women around me, but also I noticed with men.

They really liked that line. And so I think it's kind of playing on dangerous territory for Barack Obama and that, you know, it's.

HANNITY: What do you.

HUGHES: He's got to be careful not to cross a line of.


HUGHES: . appearing to be demeaning.

HANNITY: What do you think — you know when the National Organization for Women compares her to a man and Joe Biden said this is a backwards step for women.

What do you think the reaction would be? Because I've talked about journalism being dead in 2008. What would it be if John McCain had said these things?

HUGHES: Well, I think he would, of course, be very, very overwhelmingly negative, and I can't imagine how you can say having a well qualified, capable woman who has, obviously, got a great deal of executive experience, who started off as — you know, it's the classic American story.

She started off because she cared about her children and their experience at school, started off with the PTA, ran for public office to try to serve a cause greater than herself.

HANNITY: All right. Karen, we got to run.

HUGHES: That's commendable and people ought to commend it. Thank you.

HANNITY: All right, thank you for being with us.

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