'Hannity' Goes Inside '09 Shad Planking

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 22, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: One of the most unusual political traditions takes place every April in Wakefield, Virginia, and it's known only as Shad Planking. And this year, just like in years past, the Virginia gubernatorial campaigns kicked off at the annual event.

Our very own Ainsley Earhardt was there to check out this one-of-a- kind political tradition.


AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm in Wakefield, Virginia, about an hour outside of Richmond, and this small town holds an event every April to mark the start of the fishing season.

Video: Watch Ainsley's report

(voice-over) What started as a small gathering of friends to celebrate the running of the shad in the James River back in the 1930s has evolved over time into this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello Shad Plankers.

EARHARDT: A political gossip festival called Shad Planking.

STANLEY IRANTLEY, SHAD PLANKING PROGRAM CHAIRMAN: There's not another place that brings all the candidates together one time at the beginning of the political season except for this event.

EARHARDT: For more than 60 years, would-be candidates and locals have gathered here in Wakefield to eat shad, drink beer, and kick off Virginia's electoral season.

IRANTLEY: I don't think a single person has been elected governor in Virginia that hasn't spoken here.

GEORGE ALLEN (R), FORMER VIRGINIA SENATOR: I've been going to this for many years, and it's a reunion, a lot of folks from all over Virginia. This is the best — by far the premier political event in Virginia.

EARHARDT: And this year was no exception. Three of the four candidates in the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial race have made their way to this year's shad planking. Former Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, former House of Delegates member Brian Moran, and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

BOB MCDONNELL (R), FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's been going on for 61 years, it was started by — they do this every year to raise money for charity and just have a little bit of fun, but it's turned into really one of the great Virginia political events.

BRIAN MORAN (D), FORMER VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES MEMBER: In is the opportunity for Democrats and Republicans, this is a bipartisan group, mingling, talking about issues, enjoying themselves, eating, the food is plentiful, and the beer is flowing. So everyone should be able to enjoy themselves here and put away our differences.

(on camera) Are you here for the politics, or the shad, or the beer?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: A little mixture of it all. I just snuck up there and had my first little taste of shad, which I had not had before.

EARHARDT: What did you think?

MCAULIFFE: Delicious. Probably one the greatest fish I've ever tasted.

EARHARDT: Really? I've heard you either love it or hate it. Are you being serious? You loved it?

MCAULIFFE: I loved it. Honestly, and you can tell Sean this, do you think I would say anything differently?

EARHARDT (voice-over): And like past years all the political festivities have centered around Shad Planking. But what exactly is it?

IRANTLEY: Shad Planking goes all the way back to the Indian days. It's the way they used to cook their fish back, you know, hundreds of years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It tastes pretty good if you get all the bones out of it.

EARHARDT (on camera): How do you stand here? Oh, my gosh. The smoke is in my eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we started at 5 a.m. this morning building fires. It's been three days working. And then...

EARHARDT: Do you go home smelling like smoke?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you imagine that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least the wife knows where I've been.

EARHARDT: You came to a shad planking event. What is this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a hot dog, because I'm hungry, and the shad is not served until 4 p.m.

EARHARDT: Will you have room?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh yes. I'll have — there will be no problem.

EARHARDT: Theyll be no problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll have plenty of room.


EARHARDT: You love it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you've got to eat it outdoors, because you've got to spit the bones out.

EARHARDT: Official taste test. Here we go. It's really good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it? Glad you enjoy it.

EARHARDT (voice-over): If you think that a mix of shad and politics isn't weird enough, the event also gave birth to the tradition of campaign stickers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't have stickers, you don't have Shad Planking.

EARHARDT: But we quickly learned that there's a little extra incentive to wear a candidate's sticker.

(on camera) If you wear a sticker you get a beer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you go to the trucks, you put on a sticker, you get a cup and free beer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we're here for the people, and the people want beer.

EARHARDT: Do you like the beer, the shad, or the politics?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the beer followed by the politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here for both. I don't see why you can't enjoy shad and beer and politics.

EARHARDT: And the politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, there's that, but come on. Come on, this stuff is all free. You know?

EARHARDT: You went to his booth, you got the beer, you wore a sticker.


EARHARDT: See, I'm wearing all of their stickers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're smart. You can get a drink anywhere you want to.

EARHARDT (voice-over): Big crowds, good food, and a political who's who are just a part of what the shad planking event is all about.

(on camera) One of the most interesting parts of this event is the sea of signs. It's called the sign wars, where opposing camps come out days in advance and stake their claim to the surrounding area. The signing war — I saw your name everywhere.

MCAULIFFE: Well, as I say, a lot of these folks behind me have been...

EARHARDT: You have a lot of support.

MCAULIFFE: They've been sleeping out for two days. They've been very active.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was very competitive. It was heated. Back and forth through the night we were hop-scotching each other's signs, kind of, you know, putting signs in front of each other's signs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never seen anything like the signs on the way in. It's literally 30 miles out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're interested in winning, you've got to be here with your signs.

EARHARDT: Is it worth skipping your class at UVA to come out here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't tell my professor this, but I — I would say without a doubt, definitely.

EARHARDT: So there you have it, Shad Planking 2009 here in Virginia. Had a lot of fun, met a lot of great people, and learned about the politics here in this great state and even tasted shad for the first time and have the stickers to prove it.



HANNITY: All right. And Ainsley is here. You know, that was a tough assignment.

EARHARDT: I know. I got paid to go out there and shad plank. It was a lot of fun.

HANNITY: And you had all the stickers. That means you got the beer at every single location.

EARHARDT: I don't know about that. I was working, Sean.

HANNITY: The cynical side of me can say that I can say all right, so if you wear the sticker, you get the free beer, they're basically buying your support.

EARHARDT: I know. That was my question was. Is this legal? And they said, yes, you pay a ticket, and you — you know, you pay your way in.

HANNITY: And how did you like — how did you like the fish?

EARHARDT: The shad was good. It tasted really good, but if you've ever had shad, it's real bony. It's an oily, bony white fish. So for every bite you're like throwing out three bones.

HANNITY: I don't like that.

EARHARDT: Yes, exactly.

HANNITY: That's usually salty and pretty good.

EARHARDT: Do you like fish?

HANNITY: I'm more — I would have had the hot dog and the beer. I think that would have been enough for me.


HANNITY: By the way, so you saw my buddy Terry McAuliffe down there.

EARHARDT: Saw your buddy Terry McAuliffe. Did you hear what he said? He was saying he would never tell you anything differently.

HANNITY: And I'm going down.


HANNITY: I'm going to be speaking to the Republicans in Virginia.

EARHARDT: Right, right.

HANNITY: And so I'm looking forward to doing that.

EARHARDT: McDonnell, he was very grateful of that. He said you're speaking at one of his events.

HANNITY: It's going to be — yes, it's going to be down there, as a matter of fact, in May. And I'm looking forward to see if Terry comes. So it should be...

EARHARDT: I don't think so.

HANNITY: One of the things I like about it is it seemed like everyone was having fun. I mean, because look, these are serious times. We're dealing with the economy, national security.


HANNITY: But to see the fun side of politics.


HANNITY: You kind of forget that. There is a fun side.

EARHARDT: Yes. I'm telling you, Virginia knows now to do politics, as you can see. And it's just a big party, and it's bipartisan. So everyone was getting along. Everyone was out there drinking beer, listening to the political stumping, and then eating the shad plank — the shad.

HANNITY: What about the guy with the UVA sweatshirt on? He got out of school? He was skipping school?

EARHARDT: We put him on air.


HANNITY: You just busted him on national TV.

EARHARDT: I know. He was like, "Please don't put me on, because my teacher will see this." But hopefully he'll get an "A" for being there, because it was political.

HANNITY: Well, I'm going to be down to see a lot of folks in Virginia.

EARHARDT: They love you down there.

HANNITY: All right, Ainsley. Thank you very much.

And by the way, head on over to our Web site at FOXNews.com/Hannity, because Ainsley has written a great blog posting on this story.

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