All’s Fair in Love and... Political Ads?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 17, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: The Kerry campaign is fighting back against the slanderous accusations against John Kerry's record in Vietnam. At the same time, the Republicans continue to hammer the senator over his attendance record at the Senate Intelligence Committee (search ).

And Republicans are still fuming over Senator Harkin's recent comments attacking Vice President Dick Cheney (search ). Is the national security debate breaking Kerry's way?

Joining us is California Republican Congressman David Dreier and New York Democratic Congressman Greg Meeks.

Good to see you, Greg.

REP. GREG MEEKS, D-N.Y.: Thank you, Alan.

COLMES: Good to see you, David.

Let me ask you about these ads that come out. And John Kerry did disavow a ad that questions Bush's military service.

Should President Bush forcefully denounce the ads that knock Kerry's service?

REP. DAVID DREIER R-CALIF.: Well, you know, Alan, President Bush has forcefully denounced all of these ads. He has said that he believed when he signed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform (search ) legislation that we would bring an end to these sorts of individual expenditures.

And we see people circumventing the intent of that. I think that this is clearly a demonstration that those of us who believe that there should be simply full disclosure and let the American people...

COLMES: You're talking about blanket statements. I'm talking about a specific statement.

DREIER: No, but Alan, you asked me if he, in fact, did that, and the answer is yes. He said that he believed that all of these ads should not be run. And so by virtue of having said that, he doesn't believe that these ads should continue.

COLMES: I would disagree. And I think specifically when John Kerry said today, "I agree with Senator McCain that the ad is inappropriate," the ad questioning Bush's service, shouldn't Bush do the same thing and question the ads that question Kerry's service?

DREIER: Alan, you know that we all laud John Kerry's service in Vietnam. But I think it's very important for us to realize that people are exercising their First Amendment rights.

And it's John Kerry who brought this issue to the forefront. That convention centered around the four months of service John Kerry had in Vietnam.

We want to talk about issues like that that the president's ad is talking about now and that is the kind record that he had in not attending the meetings of the Intelligence Committee...

COLMES: That was a phony ad.

DREIER: Was it phony to propose a $6 billion cut which was criticized by Democratic Senator Dennis Deconcini, who was then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee?

These are the kinds of things that President Bush wants to talk about juxtaposing his strong, bold, dynamic leadership to a very, very muddled, confused foreign policy...

COLMES: I wish they would be honest about John Kerry's record. They they left out hundreds of meetings. They based those seven meetings on whether he spoke at those meetings.

Using the issue of whether somebody spoke at a meeting, there are a bunch of Republicans who didn't speak at those intelligence meetings either. They wouldn't have attended either.

But the issue of these ads, these ads are inappropriate. At least John Kerry denounced the ones that he felt were inappropriate toward the president. Turn about is fair play.

MEEKS: You're absolutely right, Alan. What we need to talk about are issues.

But we're talking about denouncing the content of a specific ad...

COLMES: Right.

MEEKS: ... that clearly, John McCain has indicated was inappropriate. Clearly most people in the military have indicated it is inappropriate.

I think it would only be appropriate for the Bush administration — if Bush himself would come out and say that these ads — and discredit these ads. That's what should happen here and then let's move on so that we can talk about the issues.

Because John Kerry would love to talk about issues that affect the American people and not talk about these political character assassinations, which are basically lies.

DREIER: Alan, I don't believe that this would have even been an issue had John Kerry simply followed the directive that he put forward in 1992 when people were criticizing Bill Clinton. He said service in Vietnam should not be an issue.

And then we look at the convention in which this has become the focal point. We look at the advertising. We look at the people who served with John Kerry who have come forward. And what we've gotten is a response from others who had a different view.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: By the way, welcome to both of you.

Congressman Dreier, good to see you.

Congressman Meeks, my good friend. Welcome back, my friend. Thank you for coming.

If we're going to ask for apologies, and maybe John Kerry should ask Senator Harkin to apologize for calling Cheney a coward. Maybe he should ask his good friend, the senator from Massachusetts, to apologize to the president for calling them a liar and saying he concocted the war in Texas for political gain.

Maybe you can ask Dennis Kucinich to apologize for saying he was an assassinator and targeting civilians for assassination. Wouldn't you be consistent and say those are all things to apologize for?

MEEKS: What we're talking about here, Sean, is an ad that is clearly, as Senator McCain has indicated, inappropriate and...

HANNITY: Nothing to do with the Bush administration.

MEEKS: It shows what John Kerry stands for. When there was something similar about the president's record, he says we shouldn't be talking about that. We should be talking about record...

HANNITY: Should Kerry ask Harkin to apologize for calling Cheney a coward? Yes or no?


HANNITY: No? Yes or no.



MEEKS: We're talking about an ad basically given by individuals who clearly are close to the Bush administration.

HANNITY: No, they're not.

MEEKS: Oh, yes.

HANNITY: The president said he doesn't support any of these ads. He couldn't be any more clear. He doesn't support the ads.

MEEKS: A major fundraiser for this ad is close to the Bush administration. Even if you talk about the person that's in there that is trying to discredit a record, the U.S. Naval records...

HANNITY: These guys aren't associated with the president, but Ted Kennedy is. Do you think Ted Kennedy should apologize for saying the president is a liar. Should Ted Kennedy apologize for saying the president concocted the war for political benefit?

Should Tom Harkin have to apologize for calling Cheney a coward?


HANNITY: OK. Let me go to...

MEEKS: You know why?


MEEKS: Because you can look at the evidence...

HANNITY: I don't want to ask why.

MEEKS: ... and see why those statements were made. If you look at the war in Iraq and the evidence that was misleading to the American people, there.

HANNITY: Right. We'll let our audience decide.

Congressman Dreier, I want to go to you. Here is what we have here. Seventy-six percent of the time, if John Kerry is going out and tell the American people he's going to reform the intelligence committee.

When he had an opportunity to attend the important meetings after the first World Trade Center attack, he missed 76 percent of those meetings, those committee meetings. He missed an entire year after the first World Trade Center attack. He wasn't there...

DREIER: And then proposed a $6 billion cut.

HANNITY: Senator Kennedy and Senator Deconcini and Senator Inouye criticized.

DREIER: Right.

HANNITY: This is Kerry's problem, isn't it? He...

DREIER: Here's a problem. And the point, you know, Greg has just said that there should be no apology coming forth for what was said by Tom Harkin.

Remember what it was that led him to say it. It was simply recounting exactly what John Kerry said. We need to be more sensitive in dealing with the war on terrorism.

And I will tell you that people are rewriting history here. And I know that I talk with you guys repeatedly about it.

And by the way, right now marks the first anniversary of our working together to bring about a recall here in California. So we're celebrating that great victory out here and we appreciate all that you did on that.

But on this issue of sensitivity on terrorism, beginning in August of 2002, we saw George Bush go to the United Nations, come to the United States Congress. And for seven months before we launched the attack we saw the passage of Resolution 1441 with the support of even Syria in that effort there.

And so a repeated attempt was made to be what John Kerry might describe as sensitive in building an international coalition and that's exactly what the president continuing to do today with a lot of success.

HANNITY: All right. This is what John Kerry's problem is. Let's start in '03, when John Kerry says, "leaving Saddam unfettered with nuclear weapons, with WMDs, is unacceptable." He said, "Iraq's WMDs pose a real and grave threat to America."

Then he votes for the $87 billion, but then he votes against it. He won't fund the people that he voted to send into war.

Then he says for the next year that the president lied and misled. "I'm the anti-war president."

Now he wants a more thoughtful and sensitive war on terror.

Now he says, with all we know now, he would still do it again.

This man has no core. And the American people know these are serious times.

MEEKS: This is the problem with George W. Bush. He told the American people that there was an imminent threat; there was weapons of mass destruction.

HANNITY: So did John Kerry.

MEEKS: There was no weapons of mass destruction.

HANNITY: John Kerry said it, right here. Right here.

MEEKS: Here's the problem with George W. Bush. He wants to go to deceive America. He doesn't want to talk about all the jobs that they've lost under his watch.

He doesn't want to talk about the lack of health care...

HANNITY: Is the president a liar?

MEEKS: He doesn't want to talk about those — he doesn't even want to talk about...

HANNITY: He's a liar?

MEEKS: ...that we're not safer today under George W. Bush.

HANNITY: Let me ask you a question.

MEEKS: The problem with George W. Bush and the reason why you see the negative ads. That's all you see about him. They're not talking about issues, and because he has no program. He's alienated America...

HANNITY: Here's what I don't understand about you. You insinuate the president's lying about WMDs.

Where are they?

John Kerry said it in 2003. Now here's what I want to know. You hold the president accountable for his statements on Iraq, WMDs and nuclear weapons, but you don't hold John Kerry responsible.

MEEKS: Sean, it is fact.

HANNITY: Why do you give him a break? Why...

MEEKS: Sean, it is right.

HANNITY: ... do you play politics with...

MEEKS: Here's what John Kerry said. John Kerry said he thought that, giving the — and I voted against it and disagreed with Kerry on this — but he thought giving the president the power was the right thing to do.

HANNITY: He said Iraq's WMDs pose a real and grave threat...

MEEKS: But he did not know...

HANNITY: ... to the United States of America.

MEEKS: ... that the president would act in a unilateral basis.

HANNITY: He never did.

MEEKS: He did. He absolutely did. He said that he would come back and make sure that he exhausted all remedies. What he did was the president called Europe "old Europe," called the U.N., said that it was irrelevant. And...

HANNITY: But John Kerry...

DREIER: Can I talk?

HANNITY: John Kerry now says, with all we know...

DREIER: Can I talk, Sean?

HANNITY: ... he'd still do it.

MEEKS: See, that's what's the problem with this show. If you want to talk, you know, you're cutting me off.

HANNITY: That's what he says.

DREIER: Sean — Sean, can I...

HANNITY: He said now, he'd support the war now.

MEEKS: What he said, was that he would have made the same vote. If he had to do it again, he would vote the same way, but as president he would do and conduct the war differently.

COLMES: You know what, Congressman Dreier? Let me get our other guest in.

Congressman Dreier, I really do want to have a debate on the issues, but the ads the administration is putting out doesn't allow us to do that when they keep misrepresenting Kerry's record.

For example, when they say in the year after the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Kerry was absent for every single one.

You know, you could use that criteria and John Chaffee wasn't there, and Malcolm Wallop and Ted Stevens and Slade Gorton and John Danforth. They didn't speak at any of those hearings either, the criteria used to judge whether John Kerry was there.

And that's not fair. You're not going after the Republicans for doing the same thing.

DREIER: Alan I think you're very fair in saying let's talk about the record. And that's why, in referring to the proposed $6 billion cut that was offered by John Kerry, opposed by Senator Ted Kennedy after that first World Trade Center bombing, I think that's worthy of discussion here.

I think that if you look at what Sean just went through, these questions that Greg was very dismissive of, of the votes versus the rhetoric of John Kerry...

COLMES: I agree.

DREIER: We want to talk about those issues. We want to talk...

MEEKS: David, how many jobs have we lost under George Bush? David, hasn't the gap between the rich and the poor become much greater under George Bush? Hasn't George Bush hurt...

COLMES: One at time here. One at a time.

DREIER: Let me ask you a question, Greg. We've created 1.5 million new jobs under George Bush since August of last year. George Bush, as we all know, inherited a slowing economy that became a full-blown recession.

MEEKS: How many did we lose?

COLMES: It was far under expectations. Let me get back to...

DREIER: Let me just say the other thing. We put into place a tax cut policy that has encouraged growth. We went through corporate scandals, the war in Iraq, September 11, and it's amazing how successful we have been.

COLMES: I want to talk about something: The $6 billion vote that was over five or six years.

DREIER: Right.

COLMES: And there was a $1 billion immediate reduction and $1 billion a year after that. And Charles Grassley, the Iowa Senator voted the same way.

DREIER: All five years, Al Qaeda attacked.

COLMES: Why don't you go after Grassley and the Republicans who voted the same way Kerry did?

DREIER: Following the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, it was the proposals of John Kerry's that came forward and I think it's worthy of discussion.

COLMES: And Charles Grassley and...

DREIER: And you're absolutely right, Alan. We want too talk about John Kerry's record and we want to look to the future. And we want to talk about George Bush's positive vision for economic growth and a strong decisive foreign policy that is going to win the war on terrorism.

COLMES: They don't want to acknowledge the Republicans that went with John Kerry on that vote.

MEEKS: And Bush got wise. I mean...

DREIER: It was a wrong vote. OK, Alan...

MEEKS: He stopped talking about turning around the corner when American people understand they're doing much worse today. He's not saying turning the corner anymore because he knows we have not turned the corner, unless, like John Kerry said, we've made a U-turn. Because the American people are hurting under George W. Bush.

DREIER: Then why is consumer confidence up? Why is consumer confidence continuing to increase? Why is it as we continue to look at economic indicators, they are positive and there is a sense of optimism about our future?

MEEKS: Look at the number of individuals who no longer have health care, who are now unemployed or underemployed by corporations that we allow to go overseas...

DREIER: We have a wide range of proposals to deal with that.

HANNITY: We've got to break. Guys, thank you for being with us.

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