GOP Candidate Damon Dunn's Inspirational Story

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 17, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: All right. So with just 77 days until the midterm elections, the prospects for the Democrats do not look bright. GOP candidates all around the country, they have the energy and enthusiasm that the Democratic Party seems to lack.

And that is especially true of one California candidate whose inspirational life story is gathering a lot of attention. Now his name is Damon Dunn, and our own Dana Perino profiled him on a special edition of "Hannity" this past weekend.

Take a look:


SECRETARY OF STATE CANDIDATE DAMON DUNN, R-CALIF.: I grew up incredibly poor. My mom had me at 16 years old. My father was killed when I was three. And we lived 10 people in a three-bedroom trailer. My uncles that I grew up with one went to prison for murder, and one went to prison for armed robbery. So I didn't have a lot of great role models.

DANA PERINO (voice-over): Damon excelled on the football field.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We saw very early on that Damon had talent. And he used that talent. He was very hard-working. When everyone else left the field he was practicing. So football has been a way that opened some doors for him.

PERINO: Politics was far from his mind, but his experiences in childhood would shape his political beliefs.

DUNN: It was very obvious that the government could be a safety net but never a trampoline. Right? They weren't going to spin me into the middle class. Right? That was going to take individual effort.


HANNITY: All right. Now Damon went on to earn a football scholarship from Stanford University. He played in the NFL, and then later he started his own small business. Not bad for 34 years old. And he joins me right now.

Damon, welcome to the program.

DUNN: Thank you for having me on, Sean, I appreciate it.

HANNITY: Well, I've got to tell you, 10 people in a three-room bedroom trailer. Didn't have a lot of role models. You know, what was it inside of you that -- that motivated you to excel to such a large extent at a very young age?

DUNN: You know what? The hero in my story is really my mom. My mom lifted my expectations. It's not that people in the community that I grew up in, that they had no expectations. It's that they had low expectations, and they met them.

My mom at a very early age made sure my expectations was I was going to college, that I was not going to die on the streets. I wasn't going to get involved in drugs. And she really is the hero in my personal story.

HANNITY: One of the things that has always been frustrating to me, is that I think there are not enough African-Americans in the Republican Party.

If you look at demographics, when you break them down during election cycles, you often see about 90 percent of African-Americans vote in the Democratic Party. Why do you think that is? Because I like the message of independence, self-reliance, liberty, freedom. And I feel the Democratic Party is the party of dependency.

Why do you think the Republican Party has had a hard time historically with African-Americans in terms of vote?

DUNN: I think there's two reasons particularly, Sean. I think that Republicans violate rule number one in all relationship building. Rule number one is that people don't care what you know until they know that you care.

And when we don't show up in communities like South Central, or Watts, or Compton. You know, we don't show up and tell people we care. And so it's very difficult to build relationship. That's the same thing in friendships and developing relationships with children. And then secondly, I think that we feel that our ideas are better. And oftentimes our ideas are better. I'm going to -- I can certainly witness to that.

But at the same time, we think, well, people will just come around, because we have good ideas. And people don't just come around. It requires us to show up, to go into the community to share our convictions, and then people ultimately will follow people that demonstrate that they care. And then they're willing to hear their ideas.

HANNITY: I'm not so sure if I agree that the Republicans haven't shown up in different communities around the country. I think there's been plenty of outreach, I don't think it's been successful. And I don't know if it's an issue of messaging. I don't know if the Democrats have been very successful.

I mean, we see the race card play in most election cycles, you know, going back to a Democratic radio ad in 1998 that said if you elect Republicans, black churches are going to burn. So is the demonization of Republicans by the Democrats, has that been a component in this?

DUNN: I honestly think that, you know, if you talk to most people in the community I grew up in, I never saw a Republican come to my neighborhood. I think that most people will say there has not been significant outreach with this component of compassion and caring.

I really think that that's the root part of the problem, you know, quite honestly. And if we just reach out and we share our convictions, I think we have an opportunity to be successful.

But you can never discount the importance of the messenger. At some point people follow people and not just messages and not just parties. Barack Obama got record numbers of African-Americans, record numbers of young people to vote for him. But those same votes are not available to Nancy Pelosi or to Harry Reid. And so people follow people and not necessarily party.

So there's a messenger, but there's also the showing up component. And I think that really is the root of the problem.

HANNITY: Let's talk about what you think. I mean, I think the Republicans have a tremendous opportunity, if they return to their conservative roots, and that would mean reading bills before they pass them. That would mean eliminate earmarks. That would mean fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets. That would mean a strong national defense. That would mean controlling our borders. What do you think the key issues for the campaign are? What are you running the hardest on?

DUNN: In my -- in the state of California right now, obviously the number one issue is jobs.

You know, CNBC came out with a report ranking California and all 50 states in key categories, and to no one's surprise California is ranked 48th in cost of doing business and 49th in overall business friendliness.

However, what is illuminating is that we were ranked No. 1 in access to capital, we were ranked No. 1 in innovation and technology. So that lets you know where the private sector is involved, access to capital, technology and innovation, we're No. 1.

But we go to the very worst in the country when the government gets involved when we start talking about cost of doing business and overall business friendliness. And what we need are leaders that understand how government can be an impediment to business growth and to investment so that we can ultimately eradicate the unemployment and get people back to work.

HANNITY: All right. Damon, I've got to tell you, your life story is -- is quite inspirational. We're very honored to have you on the program. We appreciate you being here.

DUNN: Thank you so much I appreciate that. Listen, I need people to contribute to my campaign, go on, maybe a $50 or $100 contribution to We will win this election and hopefully we can continue the rising tide of the GOP.

HANNITY: Alright Damon, good to see you. Thanks for being with us. We'll follow your campaign closely.

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