This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," December 18, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, "HANNITY & COLMES" CO-HOST: We're only 16 days away from the Iowa caucuses, and the race remains too close to call for both parties. Joining us tonight from the campaign trail — he joins us in Waterloo, Iowa — is presidential candidate Fred Thompson.
Senator, I've got to go back to the last debate, because I haven't had a chance to show this. This to me is your finest moment. Let's roll the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not doing hand shows today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No hand shows. And so, does that mean — is that yes or no for you? Do you believe that global climate change is a serious threat and caused by human activity?
THOMPSON: Do you want to give me a minute to answer it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't.
THOMPSON: Well, then I'm not going to answer it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Senator, I love it. Tell us what was happening there.
THOMPSON: You know, 30 seconds is entirely too long or a minute is out of the question, you know, to answer an important question. So now they want a series of hand shows, and there ought to be a few things that's beneath the dignity of even presidential candidates, and I drew the line. It's that simple.
HANNITY: There's good news for you out of Iowa. David Yepsen is probably the reporter of record. He's with the Des Moines Register, and he has a piece out today, if I could read it to you. I'm sure you probably heard about it by now. He said, after a sluggish start, talking about you, Thompson has sensed an opening in Iowa, and he's moving decisively to exploit it.
He goes on: The opening arises from a combination of Romney's changes of positions on social issues and Huckabee's stumbles on foreign policy and immigration. After his winning debate performance in the "Des Moines Register" debate, he said — he said Thompson has embarked on a lengthy bus tour of the state. During these final days, his campaign will hold 50 events in 50 communities, visit 54 of 99 counties, and then you picked up the endorsement of Congressman King. What's happening there?
THOMPSON: A lot of good things are happening. We're getting down to the fourth quarter now, and we're taking it to the people. And, you know, historically things change awfully rapidly in these early primary states. In Iowa, historically, that's been the case. You go back and look in 1980 or '88 or '94. The pundits have usually gotten it wrong, and we're coming on strong. Yepsen said the thing that I like the most, that the conservatives now have a horse to ride.
And so what I'm saying is saddle me up. Let's go.
HANNITY: You have to bring that pickup truck back from Nashville. That might help you out. Let me ask you this, because Mike Huckabee has had this surge. It's been most prominent in Iowa, senator. But now with the surge similarly comes scrutiny. It comes scrutiny over clemency, over pardons, over paroles, over immigration, over tax increases. Has he been unfairly characterized as a conservative?
THOMPSON: As a conservative?
THOMPSON: He's not a conservative. I mean, you know, he is what he is. He can speak for himself on that. I'm not here to cut him down. But he's not a conservative. If you look at what he's done with regard to taxes, if you look at what he's done or not done as far as illegal immigration is concerned, closing down Guantanamo, because he thinks it might incur some favor with our enemies or foreign nations or allies. You know, I think there's not a real appreciation for the kind of world we live in. That's of more concern to me that a lot these other things.
We're living in probably the most dangerous times that our nation has faced.
HANNITY: Let me ask you this because what has made the most news is this piece that Governor Huckabee has written when he talked about the arrogant bunker mentality. What are your thoughts on that?
THOMPSON: Well, it's kind of a blame America first kind of an attitude. It looks to me like it's more in tune with what the Democrats have been saying than I think anything in tune with reality. Since World War II, we've been a force for stability in this world, a force for democracy, where free people can make their own decisions, and it's led to more prosperity for more people.
We're not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but to think that our problems are due to our arrogance — you know, our European things we were very arrogant when we were bailing them out of Bosnia recently, and they couldn't handle a problem in their own back yard. And we're certainly not going to impress the terrorists with that kind of attitude.
ALAN COLMES, "HANNITY & COLMES" CO-HOST: Senator, it's Alan Colmes, welcome to our show. It's nice to have you with both of us. I want to give you a chance for a hand-show. Are you in the mood for that today or not?
THOMPSON: Alan, I'm not raising my hand until Chief Justice John Roberts swears me in.
COLMES: That's a very good line. I'm sure you'll be quoted on that. Let me ask you this — let me give you a minute to answer the question you didn't answer during the debate. Do we have a serious problem with global warming? Is it a threat? And is it caused by human beings?
THOMPSON: Well, that's one of the questions we don't know, the last one that you just asked. There's no question in my mind that the world is warming. There's no question that humans are making some contribution to that. But there's a lot of answers that we don't have yet, Alan, that we need to get. We need to know whether or not this is a part of a phase or whether or not it's permanent, as best we can tell.
We've had cooling periods in our country — or in our world before. We don't know the extent to which this is man made. We don't know the effects of it. The estimates of the results of all of this are all over the map. And I object to those people who say the books are closed, no more questions can be asked, we've got to now adopt the solutions that we're putting forth. We're not there yet.
COLMES: You answered the question in less than a minute, so it could have happened a few days ago. Let me move on to some other things here, because when the Iran NIE report came out, you said they're undoubtedly intent upon nuclear weapons. You said, I don't care what the latest NIE says, that's foolishness, you said, that represents our inability to get a handle on it, more than anything else.
If you're president, are you not going to care what 16 different intelligence agencies say on any particular issue?
THOMPSON: I'm going to concentrate on improving our intelligence capabilities. As you probably know, I served on the Intelligence Committee. I have met with foreign leaders. And I've met with CIA officers in far away places dealing with questions such as this. We have a real problem with our intelligence community. It's created confusion and inconsistency. We now have a report dealing with one of the most important issues facing our country that's totally inconsistent with one that came out just two years ago.
The Israelis don't believe it. The British don't believe it. They have pretty good intelligence agencies. And we're concentrating on the wrong thing in this report. Whether or not Iran today has a weaponization program is not the important point. The important point is they continue to enrich uranium. That's the most difficult part of the process. Once they have enriched uranium, and it's enriched sufficiently, the weaponization will take a short period of time, and I don't trust the Iranians to make the right decision in the future.
COLMES: The reports show though that they're not nearly as far along as some people thought, and the rhetoric coming out of the administration, which was very close to war mongering, from my point of view, seemed to be discounted by what this report actually said.
THOMPSON: Well, you're not paying close enough attention to what I just said, Alan. To start with, we don't know how far along they are. None of our estimates have ever been precise. None of them have ever pretended to be precise. But the point is that everybody agrees they continue to enrich uranium. And in the future, with a turn of a screw, they could turn it into a weapons program. And it depends on their intent in the future.
That means that we need to continue the policies that we have, of being tough on them and making sure our allies join us in the appropriate kinds of sanctions.
COLMES: We've got to pick it up right there. More with Fred Thompson coming up after the break.
COLMES: We now continue with Fred Thompson. Senator, you recently got the endorsement of Congressman Steve Young. And you were very happy about that. Steve King, excuse me. You were happy to get that endorsement. He recently initiated HR847, recognizing Christianity as a great faith, expressing support for Christmas. Is this a good use of Congress's time? Do you support that kind of legislation? Is this a good thing for this guy to be doing?
THOMPSON: I don't know anything about that bill. I know Congressman King though, and I would tend to think that anything he would do would be totally appropriate. I'll check it out and give you an advisory opinion on that later, Alan.
COLMES: I'll be waiting. I'll check for the email as soon as I get off the air tonight. Are candidates trying to out-God each other? We keep hearing, you know — Mike Huckabee has been talked about a little while. Some people think there's a cross in his new add, Christian leader in one of the ads. Where do you stand on this issue of candidates trying to out- God each other in this race?
THOMPSON: Well, the candidates are going to have to make up their own minds about what they think is appropriate. There's no question that faith is important to us as a people, and it's important to our country. You know, the Declaration of Independence itself points out that our basic rights come from God and not from government, and that's been our tradition, and always will be.
But how people use that in a political campaign; everybody's going to have to make their own call about that. Different people have different comfort levels about that sort of thing, and we're going to have to let people do what they think they're comfortable with, and what they want to do, and let the American people judge whether it's appropriate or not.
COLMES: You're running on small government. One of your other big issues, protection of the border from illegals and illegal immigration. Do you believe that if you become president — you're following another Republican administration — have they done the right thing about the border? And have they really been proponents of small government, given their policies and the increasing deficit and debt?
Will you follow their lead on those issues?
THOMPSON: No, no. We've not done enough in terms of border security. I respectfully disagreed with the president's bill when he put it forth. Call it what you want to; it was putting some illegal folks here ahead of the line, in front of some people who had played by the rules and waited a long time to become good American citizens. So I didn't support that. And on the big government side, the president hasn't done enough to veto these spending bills and these pork barrel projects that we've seen.
He's done better than the Democrats would have him do. But he hasn't done enough. I think he's done much, much better recently, but we're facing a tsunami of spending that's going to burden our children and grandchildren for generations to come, unless we turn our spending habits around, unless we make some basic reforms, including in our entitlement program.
HANNITY: Senator, let me ask you about the Democrats. Now, up until recently, conventional wisdom has been Hillary's going to be the nominee. We've had a shift. We've had a change. Barack Obama leads in Iowa, leads New Hampshire, leads in South Carolina. What do you think is going on?
THOMPSON: I don't know. These things go back and forth, and the pollsters have gotten too good. Every time somebody breathes, they've got a new uptick or down tick in the numbers. And I don't think you can tell too much. I think that when a trend develops, you can start paying attention to that, if something goes the same direction for a period of time.
I think the numbers are kind of meaningless. I go back to Iowa. In 1980, Reagan was supposed to have it pretty clear, you know, and George Bush beat him. In 1988, Pat Robertson came out of nowhere to finish second. In 1994, they had coroneted President Howard Dean. Al Gore flew in for the endorsement. Tom Harkin, who knew more about Iowa than anybody, supposedly, late in the game, endorsed him because he was the clear winner, but he wound up third. I don't think you can make anything out of these numbers.
HANNITY: I think that's a good observation. I really do. We have now a compressed primary season this year. It's new; it's unprecedented. We've got a new paradigm here. Let me ask this about Hillary then; what do you make of the fact — I don't know what you're to glean from this — that she would go back and look at the Kindergarten years of Barack Obama, which is amusing in and of itself, but similarly send out surrogates that question whether or not he dealt drugs, so the media will pick up on it? They've defined the politics of personal destruction? What do you glean from that if you become the nominee?
THOMPSON: The biggest complaint I have with Senator Clinton is that she aspires to be the leader of a left wing, big government, high taxing, weak on national security party, that is salivating to get power again so they can take us down the road of a welfare state. And everybody knows the Clintons are tough, and they're going to do tough things along the process. She's not alone in that regard. But we'll see what the tolerance level of the American people really is.
HANNITY: I think Clinton fatigue is setting in already. Senator, 16 days to go. It's here. Good to see you, thank you as always. Appreciate your time.
THOMPSON: Appreciate it. Thank you, Alan.
COLMES: Thank you.
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