This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," November 1, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., was one of several Democrats who called on John Kerry to apologize to American troops for inferring that the U.S. military is uneducated. Ford served as honorary co-chair of Kerry's 2004 failed presidential bid and is now involved in a very tight Senate race with Republican Bob Corker. He joins us from Tennessee tonight. -- Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.
Congressman, welcome back. Good to see you.
REP. HAROLD FORD, JR. (D), TENNESSEE, SENATE CANDIDATE: Good evening. I'm glad to be back on with both you and Alan. Thank you again for having me.
HANNITY: All right, a statement. It was the seventh attempt, I guess, for Kerry to get this right, by my account. In this statement, he still stands by the idea it's a joke and his words were misinterpreted, but then he sort — he uses the word "apologize." Is that enough for you?
FORD: Absolutely. I'm a Christian. And I think everybody deserves a second chance. He made clear what his intent was, which was to challenge the policy we have on the ground in Iraq, which I think is widely believed to be not working in many quarters. We all share the same goal of winning.
He's apologized now twice. I said early this morning, matter of fact, late last night, that he should apologize to the troops, whatever his intent was. He's done that.
HANNITY: Well, let me ask you this. He said it was a "joke," and even in this latest statement. Can you explain to me what the joke was supposed to be? Because I just don't get it.
FORD: Look, we forgive Rush Limbaugh for what he did to Michael J. Fox.
HANNITY: This isn't about Rush Limbaugh. This is about — he's running — what is the "joke" part? I don't get it. Before he apologized, though, he used the word — he says it's a joke. Where's the joke?
FORD: You'd have to have him on and ask him all of that. I take a person at their word. You know, when Vice President Cheney mistakenly shot his friend while they were out hunting, he said he was sorry and didn't mean to do it. I believed him.
If John Kerry says that it was an awful attempt at a joke, I mean, I take him at his word.
Now, if he hadn't apologized, I'd share your position. But he's apologized now. And it's interesting. Here we are, while all these kids are at war, while we all agree — even the president of the United States has changed his rhetorical description of this war from "stay the course" to "whatever the case may be."
HANNITY: Let me move on, if I can.
FORD: Yes, sir.
HANNITY: What you said when you were on FOX News Sunday, Congressman, this weekend, I want...
FORD: Yes, sir.
HANNITY: ... to quote you. You said, "What Tennesseans will get will be a Jesus-loving, gun-supporting, believer the family should come first, taxes should be lower, and America should be strong."
FORD: Yes, sir.
HANNITY: I want to ask you specifically, because if you are elected to the United States Senate, you are going to align yourselves with people that do not agree with you on a lot of issues then. So, for example, if you want the tax cuts to be permanent, you're on the other side of Harry Reid who'd be a Senate leader. If you want the NSA intercept program, you'd be against them. If you want to confer constitutional rights to enemy combatants, you'd be against them. If you want a border fence, you'd be against them.
Where do you stand on all these issues based on where your party stands?
FORD: Well, I'm who I am. I've been a Democrat for 10 years in the Congress. As you know, I challenged my leader, Nancy Pelosi, to be the leader of the Democrats. I vote my conscience.
I'm a Democrat, because I happen to believe the guy standing behind this camera in this studio, if his kids get sick, they ought to be able to go to the hospital and get a little health care. And I think my party has a better policy on that.
And when it comes to national security and other matters, when my party is right, I stand with them. When they're wrong, I stand against them.
I think the Senate and, frankly, politics in general, needs a little more of that. I'm not going to change at all. I'm going to go to the Senate and be the person I've been in the Congress and continue to do that in the United States Senate.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Congressman, look, I want you to win. And, by the way, I think, as I said, the height of your career was sitting in for me on this show, which you did one night.
HANNITY: The worst night of his life. What are you talking about, sitting next to me!
COLMES: And you're invited to do it again any time.
FORD: You're kind.
COLMES: But here's my concern. And I want you to win, because I'm a Democrat, and I'd love to see Democrats control the Senate. But you say, in addition to the issues Sean brought up, the Ten Commandments should be posted in courtrooms around the state. You favor school prayer. You say you're pro-life. You want an anti-flag burning constitutional amendment. Are you going to vote with the Democratic caucus if you get into the Senate?
FORD: I'm going to vote to find a new energy path and put us on a course for energy freedom. I'm going to vote to allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower drug care costs. I'm going to vote to ensure that, from birth to 18, every child has health insurance. And I'm going to vote for a national program, from birth into early childhood, is a central part of the No Child Left Behind Act.
COLMES: But will you more often than not vote with Democrats?
FORD: Mr. Colmes, I'm a Democrat, sir. But I've got to tell you, I grew up in church, man, and I can't take that away from who I am. My faith defines my Democratic politics.
The reason I want to help poor people, the reason I believe we ought to help more people get into the middle class, the reason I think we ought to lower taxes — as a matter of fact, eliminate taxes on the first $10,000 of income for everybody except millionaires — is because I want everyone to have an opportunity to live in a prosperous America and to create prosperity for themselves.
COLMES: You say you're pro-life. Would you vote to confirm judges who want to overturn Roe vs. Wade?
FORD: I would have voted for Justice Roberts; I would have voted against Justice Alito. It had nothing to do with abortion. I don't have litmus tests. I think we ought to reduce, try to reduce the number of abortions in this country. For so long, we've yelled about this issue, and we've gotten nowhere on it. Every two years, it's a simple part...
COLMES: Do you want a federal ban on abortions?
COLMES: Why would you change your view? You were pro-choice at one time. What happened?
Let me say this. No, no. I was not pro-choice at one time. We don't have votes like that in the Congress, sir. I voted for parental notification. I voted against partial birth abortion. I voted for the procedure my first two or three years in the Congress.
But after I saw something a physician in Memphis showed me, it changed my heart. And, Mr. Colmes, I have no problem saying that I'm a constant learning and maturing person. And the more I see things, the more I learn.
I don't adjust my principles, but I certainly — it has made me a better person a more whole person. I don't judge you or anybody for being different than me. I'm a Democrat because I think people deserve a chance in this country, and I'm going to continue to vote my conscience if elected to the United States Senate.
HANNITY: All right. So you ever going to fill in for Alan again?
FORD: If you all invited me.
COLMES: It sounds like he might be able to fill in for you.
HANNITY: We will. Congressman, appreciate your time. Thanks for being with us. We'll be watching six nights for now.
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