This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", May 24, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Presidential candidate John Kerry is considering not accepting his party's nomination at the end of July so that he can continue to raise and spend money without being hampered by Federal Election Committee (search) rules. Is this good policy or a fancy way of cheating?
Joining us now, Democratic strategist Kristin Power, and also with us, former Republican California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon.
Bill, is he cheating?
BILL SIMON, FORMER REPUBLICAN CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: You know, Sean, I think it's a bad idea. It's made worse in the execution. I think Kerry looks like a Mickey Mouse politician.
HANNITY: What do you think of that, Kristin?
KRISTIN POWER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that he -- first of all, he hasn't said what he's going to do or not, but I fully support it as a Democrat. I think that he's leveling the playing field. The president's raising probably $300 million, and, you know, he opted out of the campaign finance rules. So, you know, there's nothing illegal about it. It's...
HANNITY: He's going to go to a nominating convention and not accept the nomination?
POWER: Well, that's what he's talking about doing, and he -- you know, it's not -- it's a little sloppy maybe, but I think ultimately if you want to have...
HANNITY: A little sloppy?
POWER: If you want to have a level playing field and you want to be able to compete with the president...
HANNITY: Doesn't this fit into John Kerry's personality? "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." John Kerry, who goes honest in front of one group, a Palestinian-supporting group, "I'm against the fence." To an Israeli group, "I'm against the fence." Isn't that...
POWER: I mean, I know that's the theme...
HANNITY: ... consistent with his flip flopping personality?
POWER: I know that's a theme that the Republicans want to talk about, but there's nothing...
HANNITY: It's not a theme, Kristin. It's him.
POWER: It's not flip flopping.
HANNITY: That's what he does.
POWER: This is not flip flopping. This is him...
HANNITY: It's not?
POWER: This is a strategic decision that, you know, they've made that...
HANNITY: So he's going to go to a nominating convention and not accepting the nomination?
POWER: But he -- he's talking about perhaps not doing that so that he can be raising more money and being able to compete with the president who's going to -- you know, is raising $300 million. That's a lot of money. And, you know, he's going to be running lots of negative ads, and John Kerry needs to get his message out and be able to compete. There's nothing flip flopping about that.
HANNITY: Bill, I'm going to vote for John Kerry. Before, I voted against him.
HANNITY: I don't know. I just -- I find it very interesting.
SIMON: Yes, he wants to have it both ways.
HANNITY: Well, I mean, why did we set up these new rules? I mean, so that on every level that people can circumvent the campaign finance rules? The only people that can, it seems, are -- if I wanted to get together with a group of my friends and I wanted to create some issue advocacy ads before an election and be against a particular candidate, they have now silenced that opposition. They have effectively said we would be breaking the law with campaign finance, but yet the politicians always find their little loopholes around these things. Isn't that what this is about?
SIMON: Well, the Democrats set the convention date, Sean, and now they want to have it both ways, in effect. They want...
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: It's called good politics.
SIMON: ... to raise plenty of money before the convention, have a great convention, get their bump in the polls, and then they want to raise money afterwards.
COLMES: Kristin, as I understand it, this is one of a number of things John Kerry is exploring. This is not necessarily set in stone, but he's looking at ways to even the playing field.
POWER: Right, absolutely. I mean, I think -- you know, talking about circumventing, nobody's doing anything illegal, nobody's doing anything wrong here. They're trying to level the playing field. The presidents raising a lot of money.
You know, we have the president -- you know, a lot of people can say he's circumventing McCain-Feingold (search) where he has all his pioneers and different people, you know, bundling $250,000 in money.
COLMES: Hey, Bill, I don't hear Republicans complaining about this, but I bet you would if Republicans -- if Democrats did it. Let me put up on the screen what the Republicans are doing.
President Bush's advisers drafted a re-reelection strategy built around raising $200 million, staging the latest nominating convention in the Republican Party's history. The timing will allow Bush to begin his formal campaign near the third anniversary of September 11 and, supporters hope, enhance his fund-raising advantage.
HANNITY: Why is it OK for Bush to do that, exploiting September 11 (search), but it's not OK for John Kerry to even the playing field?
SIMON: Alan, the Democrats get to pick their convention date. They picked it. I mean, look at what the local officials are saying in Boston about it.
COLMES: No, they have to go first before the Republicans. They can't go after the Republicans.
SIMON: Look, you know, the fact is this: You know, they've picked the date, and they've got to live with. They made their bed. Now they've got to sleep in it.
COLMES: Did they have the option to go after the Republicans?
SIMON: You know, look, the fact is they made a choice, Alan, and they've got to live with it now. Look at what the local officials are saying in Boston.
COLMES: You didn't answer my question. They didn't have the option to go after the Republicans. They had to go first so there's a definite, clear fund-raising advantage for Republicans, correct?
POWER: Also, Bill, don't you want -- why don't the Republicans want the Democrats to be able to have enough money to get their message out? I mean, what's the problem? What are you guys so afraid of? Why -- you're going to have $300 million. Why can't the -- why don't you want us to have three more weeks to be able to level the playing field? What are you so afraid of?
SIMON: Kristin, you know, they can raise all their money right now. I mean, there's nothing preventing...
POWER: Well, but you know perfectly well how the rules work...
SIMON: ... John Kerry from raising money right now.
POWER: ... and giving us three more weeks is going to make a difference. Obviously, the Republicans are pretty freaked out and scared about this, or you guys wouldn't be making such a big deal about
SIMON: It's not a matter of being freaked out. It's a matter that, once again, Kerry wants to have his cake and eat it, too.
COLMES: Would you say it's fair, Bill, that one party...
SIMON: He's floating a trial balloon, and you say that he hasn't...
COLMES: ... has five weeks less to raise money? Is that fair?
SIMON: You know, the fact is this: They have plenty of time. Bottom line: They made a decision on when to have their convention, and now they want to have it both ways. They've got plenty of time to raise...
POWER: Nobody expected George Bush to raise $300 million.
SIMON: ... as much money as they can.
HANNITY: We've got to run. Thank you both for being with us. Appreciate your time.
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