Mike Huckabee on McCain, Obama Trading Jabs Over the Economy

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 16, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome to "Hannity & Colmes". Getting right to our "Top Story" tonight.

There are just 49 days until Election Day. The Obama campaign marked the occasion by going after John McCain this morning with a new ad targeting comments he made yesterday about the economy.


JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our economy, I think, still the fundamentals of our economy are strong.


COLMES: Meanwhile, Senator McCain was back out on the trail with Governor Palin this afternoon, and the senator wasted no time firing back at his Democratic rival.


MCCAIN: Senator Obama saw an economic crisis and has found a political opportunity. My friends, this is not a time for political opportunism. This is a time for leadership.

Let's have some straight talk. Senator Obama is not interested in the politics of hope. He's interested in his political future, and that's why he's hurling in insults and making up facts about his record.


COLMES: Joining us tonight, former presidential candidate and FOX News contributor, Mike Huckabee.

Hey, Governor, welcome back.


Video: Watch part 1 of Sean and Alan's interview with Mike Huckabee | Part 2

COLMES: I thought McCain said he wasn't going to run that kind of campaign where he take shots at his opponents, doesn't tell the truth about his opponent, doesn't take personal shots like that.

That's not the McCain — that's not what he said he would do.

HUCKABEE: Alan, you know, that's exactly the kind of campaign that Barack Obama said he wasn't going to run. Barack Obama said he was going to bring us to a new kind of political environment. He was going to rise above it. He was going to not focus on the politics of the past, but he was going to elevate us to the politics of the future.

John McCain is simply responding in kind. Frankly, I wish both of them would stop it, to be honest with you. I wish they'd quit engaging each other and start engaging every day the American public, the people sitting at home worried about high gas prices.

But to say it's just John McCain is simply just not being quite.

COLMES: Well, if you — if we can.


COLMES: If I were to agree to you that Barack was doing it, too, which I don't, but let's say even I would agree to that.

HUCKABEE: How can you not, Alan?

COLMES: Even if I would agree to that.

HUCKABEE: How can you not?

COLMES: . saying that John McCain that justified him.

HUCKABEE: Come on.

COLMES: . doing it, does that make it right?

HUCKABEE: No, I think what the point is, is that both of these candidates have forgotten that they're really not going to win the hearts of the American people by attacking each other.

They're going to win the hearts of the American people by talking about what's on the hearts of the American people, and it's high gas prices, it's an economy in trouble. It's the fact that we've got, you know, situations that we wonder how we're going to be able to pay for health insurance and will our kids get a decent education? Can we choose our schools?

And I think if John McCain and Sarah Palin get back on that track, they'll leave Obama in the dust.


HUCKABEE: But I just want to remind you, it was Barack Obama who ran the entirety of his primary campaign on a different kind of politics, and he has totally abandoned that.

COLMES: So did John McCain, Governor.

HUCKABEE: And that's why he's taking.

COLMES: So did John McCain. However, how — why should we reelect to the party that brought us to do regulation that led to the implosion of the mortgages, of the subprime problem, of the deregulation of the banking industry which led to the folding up of Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers?

Why should we reelect the party that enabled this to happen?

HUCKABEE: You mean the Democratic Party that's in Congress.

COLMES: No, the Democratic Party. The Republican Party.

HUCKABEE: . the one that has had Congress that has Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid? The ones who are going to fix it when they got elected? That party? Well, that's why we're not going to elect them.

We are going to John McCain who has had a long history of bucking the Republican Party when he thought they were wrong and he's clearly been a person who didn't just join along with his party.

COLMES: He was against regulation which is what caused this problem.

HUCKABEE: Regulation isn't the answer to this. In fact, if we go back and overregulate and tinker with it, we're going to do more damage than we are in terms of a fix. The worst thing that happened in a long time is Sarbanes Oxley.

What did that do? It drove a lot of American investment right over to London, kept us from becoming and remaining.


HUCKABEE: . the number one place for really finance in the world.

HANNITY: Hey, Governor, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it. Now we do have some breaking news here on the FOX News Channel. We just learned that the federal government has approved an $85 billion emergency loan to AIG which was sort of the third step here.

We had Merrill, we had, of course, Lehman Brothers, and then there were questions about the fiscal viability of AIG.

Let me ask you this question, Governor, because I think this is a very serious question. If John McCain is saying the fundamentals of the American economy are strong, and we saw Wall Street rebound today, for example, can we conclude that Barack Obama is saying that the fundamentals of the American economy are not strong?

Is that what he's saying?

HUCKABEE: I'm not sure what we can figure out what he's saying because I haven't figured out his economic plan yet other than more government, more taxes, more regulation which is the wrong approach because it's going to drive more capital out of our marketplace. It will cause more people to lose jobs.

Look, the dumbest thing I ever hear is — we're not talking about taxing the people, we're going to tax the corporations.

Sean, you and I both know corporations don't pay tax. They collect it. They charge it on to their end user, the customer.

HANNITY: But when he says.

HUCKABEE: Which means the people.

HANNITY: We're in the midst of the most serious financial crisis in America, we've got some tough times, I mean, there's a great piece in "Investors Business Daily" today, and it talked about in the 1970s we had, you know, financial crisis. Oil companies, the booming '80s saw banks go bully up, in the '90's, long-term capital, the Asian crisis, the decline of the ruble.

I'm wondering if this is just — if he's going to characterize something like this, it seems like he's either panicking because of his lack of experience or that he's trying to exploit what's happening on Wall Street for his political advantage.

Is that a fair analysis?

HUCKABEE: I think it's a very fair analysis, and there's no doubt that his capacity to understand the economy is limited because, Sean, he's never run a business. He's never signed the front of a paycheck.

One thing Sarah Palin brings to this race — and I appreciate it very much — she's actually operated a small business, and you know, it's kind of nice, rather than to have only signed the back of the check.


HUCKABEE: . to have signed the front, to have met a payroll and to understand what that feels like. He's never done that.

HANNITY: You know.


HANNITY: I agree with you. I have in front of me, Senator McCain was a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005. I don't have enough time to read it, but among the many things he said, he talked about how there were the illusions set up by Fannie Mae deliberately and systematically created for senior management so that they can get their bonuses.

He went on to explain that they had faulty accounting practices, and then he concluded by saying, I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Regulatory Reform Act of 2005 — and this is what he said — to underscore my support for quick passage of this, if Congress does not act — this is the 2005 act — American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market and the overall financial system and the economy as a whole.

That reform was stopped by the Democratic Party. I didn't see Barack Obama standing — he's probably too busy planning his run for president at that time, after all he'd probably been in the Congress three weeks, but, you know, that was John McCain proposing those reforms in 2005.

HUCKABEE: John McCain has a long history of being against an overreaching government, regulatory environment. It's a dangerous place for us to go, and what we need to do is recognize the marketplace will correct itself.

It's painful, but it will correct itself.

HANNITY: And coming up more with Governor Mike Huckabee, that's straight ahead.


HANNITY: "US Weekly" is at it again. In this week's issue, the magazine is, quote, "exposing how Governor Palin had a tanning bed installed in the governor's mansion." The magazine reports that installing such a tanning bed in your home could cost up to $35,000.

One big problem, Governor Palin's office in Alaska, well, they've responded to the accusations, and they actually point out that Governor Palin bought the bed with her own money.

We continue now with Governor Mike Huckabee. You know how many gyms do they have for U.S. senators and congressmen? How many barber shops? I read they lost, what $14 million. We're subsidizing their cafeterias in Washington and their hair salons.

But whoa, she buys a tanning bed. That's big news, Governor.

HUCKABEE: This really does reflect a pattern of reckless behavior on the part of Governor Palin. First of all, she bought a tanning bed. "US Weekly" next week will be coming out with another breaking story that she actually tore off the labels of her pillows that clearly remark do not remove under penalty of law.

HANNITY: Listen, I'm going to ask her. If she's going to pledge — if she becomes vice president, you know, one of the big benefits of that job, Governor, is that she gets an airplane, and I — she's got to promise she's not going to sell it on eBay.

All right, let me go back to the economic issue, because there's so much at stake here and Barack Obama and Joe Biden — they've ratcheted up their attacks, Governor, now in recent days. And it's gotten very vicious. Politics have changed, my foot.

But he's proposed $1 trillion in new spending. He's going to insure, he says, 46 million uninsured Americans, repeal the Bush tax cuts, increase Social Security, capital gains, income taxes, the death tax, and the windfall profits tax, as you point out, corporations don't pay taxes.

Is that the answer to the — whatever economic challenges we have?

HUCKABEE: It's the answer if we want to ruin our economy and we want to put a lot of people out of work.

Sean, you'll remember when the Clintons wanted to put in a luxury tax, and they did, and the Democratic Congress thought that was a brilliant idea. They were going to tax yachts and private jets. And guess who lost their job?

The people who made the yachts and the people who washed the private jets. The really rich people didn't get hurt by that. It was the people at the bottom that got hurt when you do those kinds of things.

HANNITY: I never got a job from a poor person. I never got — you know what, when I worked in restaurants as a waiter and a bartender and cleaning dishes when I was 12 years old, and pots and pans, I'm glad a lot of rich people bought — you know, came into the restaurant to eat.

Let me ask you this, Barack Obama actually said something today in his speech in one of the few moments he wasn't viciously attacking Senator John McCain. He actually said I introduced legislation, and I sat there and laughed. He introduced — he's never accomplished anything as it relates to the economy.

He spent — half the time that he's been in the U.S. Senate he's been running for president. What has he accomplished?

HUCKABEE: Well, he's accomplished getting to run at my expense. You know when I was a candidate, one of the things that really bugged me the most was that these guys had federal jobs, they got paid, they had their health insurance paid, they didn't show up for work, and I paid not only for my campaign, I had to pay for theirs, too, for their living expenses.

You're right. You know, Barack Obama's, I think, economic experience is limited. Very limited. What really frightens me, though, is his perception that if we raise taxes and we increase the role of regulatory government we're going to improve the economy.

COLMES: Hey, Governor, I got — this is just driving me crazy.

HANNITY: Too bad.

COLMES: They continue to lie about Barack Obama's record.

HUCKABEE: Well, Alan, it's not a long trip for you. I just want you to know.

COLMES: First of all, he has introduced hundreds of bills.

HUCKABEE: It's not a long trip so.

COLMES: Secondly, he's going to reduce taxes for 95 percent of Americans. He's going to raise taxes for a very small percentage of people by repealing the Bush tax cuts to those making the top 1 to 2 percent of income.

To continue to say that he is going to raise taxes is not an accurate representation of his economic plan.

HANNITY: He voted four times.

COLMES: Excuse me, I'm talking to Governor.

HANNITY: He voted four times.

COLMES: Excuse me, Mr. Hannity.

HANNITY: I'm educating you.

COLMES: I'm talking to our guest.

HANNITY: You obviously.

COLMES: Governor Huckabee, that is not a fair and accurate representation of what he's going to do?

HUCKABEE: It is, because, Alan, when you raise taxes, you can say you're only raising it on the top 5 percent, but here's what happens. If the taxes raised are going to happen to a small business operator, which it will, in many cases, what happens is people who work for that small business owner lose their jobs.

It also means that that small business owner is going to have to raise his prices.

COLMES: It's not going to be small businesses, it's going to businesses that make X amount of money.

HUCKABEE: $250,000.

COLMES: This is a misrepresentation. You keep saying he's going to raise taxes for most people.

HUCKABEE: $250,000.

COLMES: He's not going to do that.

HUCKABEE: $250,000 is his threshold, Alan. That's a — I talked to a person who runs a limousine service who picked me up in Atlanta, Georgia the other night at midnight to take me to a hotel. She owns a few cars.

And this is not a rich person, but she's going to fall in that capacity because her gross income in her self-employed corporation will put her in Barack Obama's rich category. And she's not rich.

COLMES: And 95 percent of Americans get tax breaks under his economic plan.

HUCKABEE: I'll believe that when he signs it, but it won't happen because John McCain and Sarah Palin are going to win the election.

COLMES: I see.

HUCKABEE: And a large reason is because I think the American people know that when you promise a lot of new spending, and you're going to cut the taxes on everybody, except a handful of folks, you're not (INAUDIBLE).

COLMES: He's lowering taxes for 95 percent of the American public.

Governor, we thank you very much for being with us.

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