Prime Time President: Rating the State of Union Address

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," January 28, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome to this special edition of HANNITY & COLMES, we have live reaction to the president's State of the Union Address, tonight, as well as a preview of tomorrow night's important Florida primary. And we want to hear from you tonight about how the president did, you can text to FNCTV or 36288 on your cell phone, text the letter "A" for excellent and "B" for fair and "C" for poor and we'll have the live results in just a few minutes.

For more reaction to the president's speech, we turn to our own Frank Luntz, tonight, who is in Florida with a group of independent voters.

Frank, what are they telling you?

FRANK LUNTZ, AUTHOR AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Alan, we chose absolutely the place to come to since this is where it all began seven-and-a-half years ago.

Let me ask you, show of hands, how many of you walked in with a favorable impression of President Bush? Raise your hands. Two, three, four, five, six of you. How many had a favorable impression of the speech, tonight? Raise your hands. Almost all of you. Doris what was so positive?

Deloris, what was so positive?

DELORES, INDEPENDENT VOTER: He was dynamic, he was resilient, he called for co-responsibility stating he'll do this and then asked them for the responsible action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The speech was well written and it was well delivered, but it didn't have facts?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought that he tried to touch on as many things as he could that are of importance to our country today, and particularly focusing on the economy, I think that's and important.

LUNTZ: Well, you know, it's funny that you talked about the economy, because we had an opportunity to use these great dials to indicate what people liked and disliked about the speech. And of all the segments that we tested in the entire State of the Union Address, nothing did better than ending wasteful Washington spending and yellow line of the Republicans, the blue line of the Democrats, watch what happens when the president talks about balancing the budget. Let's take a look.


GEORGE W BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...we need to earn their trust by spending their tax dollars wisely.


Next week, I'll send you a budget that terminates or substantially reduces 151 wasteful or bloated programs, totaling more than $18 billion. The budget that I'll submit will keep America on track for a surplus in 2012.

American families have to balance their budgets; so should their government.



LUNTZ: Absolutely off the charts, why was that such a positive reaction? James, I mean, you guys gave it a home run. Tell me, why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's our money. They're spending them on useless projects or whatever and without our permission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And running a family is a very difficult thing to do in maintaining a budget and I hold our government responsible for the same thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the government controls our money, it controls us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a $9 trillion debt, he talked about ending earmarks, but I heard him propose a lot of new spending in there, as well.

LUNTZ: And that bothers you? That concerns you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Money earned should be money saved by an American, and it shouldn't go to something that I'm not for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corporations don't waste money, why should the government?

LUNTZ: Say that again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corporations don't waste money, why should the government?

LUNTZ: But we've talked about this now. We've talked about ending wasteful spending for seven years. Do you really trust that this is going to be something different?


LUNTZ: No, you don't. Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because, the government still has to fund, you know, that war in Iraq, Medicare and things that had been promised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He needs to elaborate on his corporate spending and give tax breaks for big corporations.

LUNTZ: What I'd like to do is show you one other clip that was very impressive here, because there was an extreme dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats. While the all agree on ending wasteful Washington spending and earmarks, when it comes to making that tax cuts permanent, there is a very different reaction. Let's take a look:


BUSH: Most Americans think their taxes are high enough. With all the other pressures on their finances, American families should not have to worry about the federal government taking a bigger bite out of their paychecks. There's only one way to eliminate this uncertainty: Make the tax relief permanent.



LUNTZ: The single biggest different response of everything in the debate. You Republicans or Republican-leaning people here, loved it. You Democrats hated it. Why did you hate it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just tired of him making promises that we can't keep, so it just kind of like, turned me off to the whole thing.

LUNTZ: So, it didn't matter what he said. He could have said that he's no longer going to wearing white underwear and you would have reacted negatively?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just tired of the promises. He's just not doing his job.

LUNTZ: Leonard:

LEONARD: The people are listening to what the Democrats are saying and they're telling us they're going to raise our taxes and they're afraid of that, they know what happens.

LUNTZ: Sean, you've got a question. Let me just — when you watch these debates and, in this case, the State of the Union address, and when you get that kind of dichotomy, and again, these are relatively uncommitted people, it's very surprising. But, when the Democrats actually react negatively to making the tax cuts permanent, that's a message for you as to what's happening to the Democratic primary.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: No, and that's actually what my questions is, Frank. And I man fascinated at the reaction of your focus group. You know, I love these focus groups, we learn a lot from them. But the president said this when talking about the tax cuts, and if you could specifically ask the Democrats in your audience, I'd like them to know, because the president said 116 million Americans would lose — see their taxes rise an average of $1,800 and he did fulfill that promise, every American did get that tax cut.

LUNTZ: So, let me guys ask you a question, over a 100 million Americans would see their taxes rise $1,800, doesn't that concern you?



LUNTZ: No, some of you it doesn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't think the tax cuts should have been done in the first place. It harms middle and lower class people. It doesn't help them as much as it helps upper income people.

LUNTZ: James.

JAMES: I agree, middle and lower class have not been positively...

HANNITY: Everybody got a piece of the tax cut, Frank.


LUNTZ: As, Sean's saying in my ear, everyone got a piece of those tax cuts and yet, you all don't think so?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the Democrats that it was tax cuts for the rich, Republicans think it was tax cuts for everybody, so that's why you see the dichotomy.

LUNTZ: So, let's do a vote right here, the American people are watching. Do you want the tax cuts permanent? Who says yes? And who says no?

HANNITY: My hand's up.

COLMES: Hey, I don't believe Hannity's the focus group. Let me ask, look, if they are also armed with information that when Bush came into office in 2001, the national debt was 5.7 trillion and now it's 9.2 trillion. He inherited a surplus of 236 billion and now there's a deficit of 354 billion, in that context, why would they believe what he said tonight?

LUNTZ: Well Alan, if I knew that there was going to be math, I don't think I would have signed up with FOX News.

COLMES: But those are the facts!

LUNTZ: Let me tell you, that Alan was talking about how the deficit has gone up significantly under this president and the federal debt has gone up significantly, and what he's inferring is that the tax cuts have caused it. Now, let me ask you — and I can see you shaking your head, Michael — which is more important to you? Balancing the budget or tax cuts?


LUNTZ: Why tax cuts?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keeping the tax cuts permanent. Because what that does is that is actually turn more tax revenues to the government.

LUNTZ: Phil?

PHIL: Tax cuts need to be — if you lower the tax rate it tends to stimulate business and economies and that will increase tax rates, as strange as that sounds.

LUNTZ: And you've got the last word because you're the youngest person here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Government programs cost money and cutting taxes is not going to do anything for programs. And I, myself, am a beneficiary of a lot of government programs.

LUNTZ: Now, one last time, how many walked in here with a favorable impression of Bush? Raise your hands. And how many are walking out of here thinking he did well tonight in his final State of the Union Speech. Look at the hands go up.


LUNTZ: Oh, this is definitely a positive night for President Bush. Back to you guys.

HANNITY: What fascinating results, Frank, as always. And tell everybody thank you for us for participating, tonight.

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