Torricelli Calls it Quits

This partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, September 30, 2002 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House.

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SEAN HANNITY/CO-HOST: Welcome back to HANNITY & COLMES. I'm Sean Hannity. Still to come tonight, supermodel Kathy Ireland with some words of inspiration. Alan needs them.


HANNITY: But first, the three-year-old investigation into illegal campaign contributions has finally ended. New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli's career with slipping poll numbers. The Torch called it quits today when he bowed out.


SEN ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: This is a political campaign devoid of all issues. I cannot talk about war and peace, or economic opportunity, or the environment, the sanctity of our Constitution, or the things that have guided my life. I can't be heard.

My voice is not so important that it cannot be substituted. If I cannot be heard, then someone else must be heard. I have asked attorneys to file with the Supreme Court of the United States, motions to have my name removed from the general election ballot for the United States Senate. It is the most painful thing that I have ever done in my life.


HANNITY: I bet. But does this ignite a whole new political firestorm in New Jersey? We're joined by the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in the great state of -- well, I might as well call you Senator Doug Forrester. You're here...

COLMES: Hey, don't even have the election.

HANNITY: Senator, I'm going to tell you what I'm going to predict here. That last statement about what he said, and I have the law in front of me, and I have the precedent in front of me, he is indicating there is a trick in play here.

DOUG FORRESTER, REPUBLICAN, NJ SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I don't know if it's a trick. I think that there is an attempt on the part of certain political bosses to try to substitute somebody on the ballot. I don't think they will be successful.


FORRESTER: And the reason why is because I think the law is very clear.

HANNITY: I know for a fact, as we speak tonight, a poll's going out all over New Jersey to pick the candidate that they want. But here's the thing. They tried to disenfranchise the military. Al Gore, as far as I'm concerned, tried to steal an election. You look at a back room deal cut with Daschle and Jumping Jim Jeffords. And I think what's happening here, they have manufactured a way because they knew they lost the seat. You had already beaten him.

FORRESTER: Well, we have to wait and see what the courts say. There are some indications that they are going to court. They're going to try to substitute someone on the ballot. It's clearly too late. 51 days is the New Jersey...

HANNITY: Fifty-one days.


HANNITY: ...the statutory window of a replacement candidate cannot be put on the ballot. Does that mean they're going to make a deal where Torricelli resigns and that McGreevey appoints somebody? Does that create an open loophole in any way? Have your lawyers said?

FORRESTER: I don't believe it does. I don't think there is any legal way to replace or substitute a candidate. And it's important that there's not. And the reason why is because if something like that were allowed, you can imagine the games that would be played.


FORRESTER: People would be swapping out candidates.

HANNITY: They know they're about to lose.

FORRESTER: In elections, absolutely.

HANNITY: Let's try a long bomb pass.

FORRESTER: Yes. Right. There isn't any provision in New Jersey which says, gee, we're about to lose, therefore, we're going to substitute another candidate.

HANNITY: All right. Let's talk about Torricelli and corruption. Are you convinced he accepted -- we have allegations he accepted cash. We have allegations about suits. We have allegations about grandfather clocks and watches and earrings. Are you convinced he used his office for personal gain and that he accepted illegal gifts?

FORRESTER: Well, Sean, you know, way back last summer, we called for his resignation, along with other papers and media in the state. If he would have taken that action back then in the summertime, things would be very different now, and I'd probably be running against another candidate. But he has stepped aside. I wish him well.

HANNITY: Do you think he took illegal gifts? Did he accept...

FORRESTER: I believe that it is clear that his office was sold. And I think that is highly unfortunate.

COLMES: Mr. Forrester...

FORRESTER: But my focus on now really is the issues other than Bob Torricelli, because Bob Torricelli has stepped aside.

COLMES: Well, here's the issue in today's news. Let me ask you this. Are you happy that he did what he did today?

FORRESTER: I'm not happy about the whole sordid affair. I mean, this has been going on months and months and months. I'm interested in making sure that New Jersey's reputation is restored in the United States Senate.

COLMES: Did he do the right thing by stepping down?

FORRESTER: I believe that he should have done this a long time ago. The issue now is to talk about national security...


FORRESTER: ...economic security, retirement security, environmental cleanup, prescription drugs. That's what I want to talk about.

COLMES: Did he take the high road today?

FORRESTER: I believe that...

HANNITY: Are you kidding?

FORRESTER: ...his withdrawal from the race at this late date puts his party in a situation where they are not going to have anyone on the ballot.

COLMES: Now I know there are -- we've heard about the 30 days, if there's less than 30 days, the governor can set a new date for a special election if somebody resigns.

FORRESTER: That doesn't apply to this case.

COLMES: There's a 48-day rule...


COLMES: where you can seek approval from the attorney general to replace a candidate. So are you going to challenge whatever it is the Democrats do?

FORRESTER: Well, we don't know what they're going to do. And we'll have to wait and see what they propose.

COLMES: Do you want an opponent? Are you going to try to make it so that there is no opponent?

FORRESTER: I believe it is very -- well, there are several people on the ballot. I'm not the only one on the ballot. So it's not like there isn't a choice.

COLMES: The Democratic Party?

FORRESTER: Well, I believe that the Democratic Party waited too late. In other words, no one ran against Mr. Torricelli in the primary.

COLMES: Right.

FORRESTER: No one stood up against him after the Senate Ethics Committee ruled at the end of July. And there were a number of Democrats who actually wrote columns and what not, suggesting that he step aside before the 51 day time...

COLMES: Yes, but there is a rule that if after 48 -- if it's within 48 days, the attorney general can appoint a Democrat to run on the slate.

FORRESTER: No, I don't believe that's the case.

COLMES: You don't -- so you would challenge that if that was the case?

FORRESTER: And well -- the issue here that's important to keep in mind is that if we were to allow a situation where parties could swap out candidates at the end, we would never have an electoral system that made sense.

COLMES: Do you think this is a ploy?

FORRESTER: Oh, there's no doubt about it. Do you think for a moment that this would have happened if Bob Torricelli were even or leading in the polls?

COLMES: So you don't think he did the right thing out of a sense of obligation to his party and to country? You think this is a purely a chess move to get a Democrat in there with no integrity to this move whatsoever?

FORRESTER: I believe that the reason that they have had such great difficulty finding someone to step in to replace Bob Torricelli is because most of the Democrats who have been mentioned as possible candidates have too much personal integrity to be involved in this kind of foolishness.

HANNITY: Hey, Doug, mark my words, they are trying to find a parcel word, parcel phrase, parcel law. And you're going to need a whole, you know, team of attorneys to deal with what's coming. And it's going to be pretty sad. We'll watch.

FORRESTER: Well, I think it is unfortunate if anyone were to try to do this, because it would seriously undermine the electoral process. Even if I were a Democrat I would say, this is a bad idea. You can't...

HANNITY: The rule of law won't matter. It hasn't mattered in recent years for them. So good to see you. Best of luck, senator.

FORRESTER: Thanks, I appreciate your encouragement.

HANNITY: And could the Torch's department swing the balance of power in the Senate? We're going to find out. It's only 36 days before conservatives take over the world.

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