Hillary Clinton Battles Barack Obama's Surge

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," January 17, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: First, our top story tonight: Hillary Clinton is doing everything she can tonight to fight off Barack Obama in his surge. Take a look at what happened when New York's junior senator appeared this morning on "The Today Show."


MATT LAUER, "TODAY" SHOW HOST: Senator Barack Obama has announced he's opening an exploratory committee, basically the first step toward running toward president. Is he completely qualified? He's been in the Senate for two years, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Is he completely qualified to be commander-in-chief, in your opinion?

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, D-N.Y.: You know, Matt, we're going to have a really vigorous debate, I think, on both sides, with both parties, in this primary season. And the voters will make these decisions. That's what's so great about our system.

LAUER: But do you think he's qualified? I mean, he's a fellow Democrat. Would you be comfortable with him in the White House?

CLINTON: I'm going to let all of those decisions be sorted out by voters.


HANNITY: Oh, really? Joining us now, the author of the number-one bestseller "Godless," Ann Coulter. And from the Young Democrats for America, Jane Fleming is with us.

Hardly an endorsement for Barack Obama. She couldn't come out and say he's qualified. Has the competition begun, Jane?

JANE FLEMING, YOUNG DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA: Well, the competition has begun, as you know. And the good thing is Democrats have lots of great candidates on our side who will be running for president, which is not what I can say for the Republicans. It's a lot more of the same over on your guys' side.

HANNITY: It didn't take a long time to get your cheap shot in. I want to talk about the president's comments. The president said we need a bigger presence in Iraq. The president said, at this point, I think it would be a mistake. I believe we — I don't believe we should tie our hands and the hands of the new Iraqi government. And the president said, "We don't want to send a signal to insurgents, to the terrorists that we're going to be out of here at some date certain. I think that would be like a green light to go ahead and just bide your time."

Is George Bush wrong in saying that?

FLEMING: Yes. But George Bush also said, which you seem to leave out, that he thought the Iraq war was a losing war. He said that recently. And so...

HANNITY: And you're a supporter of Hillary's position on the war?

FLEMING: I am a supporter of the Democrats' position, which is, number one, we should be listening to the Iraq Study Group, which had lots of recommendations for us to have a military solution, along with a political solution.

HANNITY: Jane, the words I just read to you were Hillary Clinton's. She said those things.


HANNITY: She said it just, you know, February 20, 2005. She said that. Now she's flipped and flopped as she did again today.

FLEMING: Hey, you want to talk about flip-flopping, let's talk about McCain.

HANNITY: No, I want to talk about — you just said George Bush was wrong in saying it. I asked if you support Hillary and the Democrats. You said yes. So will you now admit that Hillary was wrong when she said it and Hillary doesn't have a position on Iraq?

FLEMING: Sean, I actually didn't say anything about the comments that you read. What I said is you left out what George Bush said about Iraq. So don't twist my words.

HANNITY: Ann Coulter, isn't that revealing? All these Democrats supported a troop surge, every one of them.

FLEMING: That's untrue.

HANNITY: Yes, pretty much. And then they back off it when George Bush says it. It's amazing they're playing politics while our troops are in harm's way, isn't it, Ann Coulter?

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR: Yes. First of all, I do love when you lie to the guests, Sean.

HANNITY: I did not lie.

COULTER: And, yes, I mean, I'm getting a little tired of even having to discuss what the Democrats are chitchatting about. They want us to lose in Iraq. That will help them. They're in the position of the Mujahedeen. They will acquire more power if America is defeated in Iraq.

And so, whether it's more troops, less troops, redeploy the troops, and every time they come up with a new battle plan, we have to pretend like it's a serious proposal. They want us to lose. Fortunately, it does appear that they are not going to actually withdraw funding or force us to lose, as they did in Vietnam.

FLEMING: Well, don't speak to soon, Ann.

HANNITY: Ann, this is the point...

COULTER: They are going to force us to lose?

HANNITY: Well, the president — they're having now a series of symbolic votes that are meaningless, that they know are meaningless. And they are joined by (INAUDIBLE) Republicans like Chuck Hagel. And the point here is that, at every level, it all seems to be about politics. And the idea that they could support a troop surge, Kerry supported it, Pelosi supported it, Hillary supported it, Biden and Kerry supported it, and now they're against it, only because George Bush supports it. It's breathtaking to me.

COULTER: Right, because George Bush thinks that will help us win the war, which we are winning. The other reason we know they aren't going to do anything substantive is how snippy they're being all the time. They can't actually, you know, withdraw the money for the war. They can't force George Bush's hand, but they will be mean to Condoleezza Rice.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Speaking of being snippy, Ann...

COULTER: Let me just say one other about...

COLMES: Thanks for never being snippy on this show to me. I appreciate that.

COULTER: Hi, Alan.

COLMES: How are you?

COULTER: If I could just say one thing about what Hillary is saying now, and that is this business about how we need to, you know, incentivize the Iraqis and we need to get them to get their act together by punishing them. Why is it the liberals always want to punish our friends? How about, you know, coming up with some way to incentivize illegal aliens not to cross the border.


FLEMING: ... the surge, we have tried an escalation twice before. It has not worked.

COLMES: Right, this is nothing new.

FLEMING: The Iraqis know it's not going to work.

COULTER: It isn't working?

COLMES: You're exactly right, Jane. This is nothing new.


FLEMING: We're losing Americans and Iraqis every day. It is not working. We have got to create a political solution.

COULTER: No, we aren't.

FLEMING: We're not losing Americans every day, Ann?

COULTER: No, we aren't at all.

COLMES: Let me ask you this, Ann. You talk about flip-flops. Ann, let me get you a question in here, if I could, because...

FLEMING: You live in Never Neverland.

COLMES: When we talk about flip-flops, when George Bush says over and over again stay the course, stay the course, stay the course, then he says we're not staying the course. Then he comes up with a new phrase, a new way forward. How is that not a flip-flop?

COULTER: Well, this is — this is what I mean about liberals objections just being pointless chitchat.

COLMES: You're avoiding my question.

COULTER: So, OK, attack the president's rhetoric.

COLMES: That's a flip-flop.

COULTER: You know, according to you people, Dick Cheney is running the White House anyway, so who cares...


COLMES: You're totally avoiding my question. The fact that the president says stay the course, and then he knows he's got to change, and so what he's doing is — and this change, this surge, by the way, is something they've already tried and hasn't worked in the past. They act like it's something new, Jane.


COULTER: It is working.

COLMES: They've already done 20,000, then 10,000, then 10,000, and act like it's some kind of a new policy.

COULTER: You guys are just re-running the same talking points we've been hearing since 2003. We're losing, we're losing, head for the hills.

COLMES: Are you saying we're doing well?

COULTER: We've had a number of elections. The number of American deaths have been going down every year. We're doing better than we will if we pull out and allow massive human destruction and give Al Qaeda a foothold.

COLMES: Give me the successes, Ann. Tell me where the successes in the Bush policy are. Where are the successes?


COULTER: Pardon me?

COLMES: Where are the successes in the Bush Iraq policy?

COULTER: For, I mean, basically, it is like California with Baghdad as L.A., with, you know...

COLMES: Baghdad is like L.A.? We just had an explosion on Monday.


FLEMING: It's nothing near that, Ann.


COLMES: Hundreds of people were killed there on Monday. Bodies are being found cuffed and bound.

COULTER: What? You asked me a question. I'm trying to answer. Do you want to hear the answer?

COLMES: Baghdad is like L.A.?


COULTER: No, Iraq is like — it's like saying California is the midst of a massive war and we've got to pull out, because, yes, there's gang warfare in L.A. That's what you have. You have the Crips and the Bloods in Baghdad. That's where all the fighting is.

The number of American deaths have been going down. We've held three elections, and we're killing a lot of foreign terrorists, the ones who might be in New York setting off more bombs or flying planes into buildings, if we weren't over in Iraq. But we just get the same, "Oh, we're losing, we're losing, head for the hills," from the Democrats.


COLMES: I'd like to define win. Here's the problem, Jane. No one has defined what victory is. The president will say we're making progress and we're going to win, we're going to have victory, but they've not defined exactly what that means.

FLEMING: Well, their sense of victory is a moving target. Before it was to find weapons of mass destruction, which, of course, we found none.

COULTER: That's false.

FLEMING: Then it was to get a democratic government in place, which we have, and we should be very proud of. And it was to get Saddam out of power, which he's out of power now, as well. So why are we still there?

The Iraqi government has got to take responsibility for their own country and get a political solution with the Sunnis and the Shiites to come to some resolution about land and oil sales...


HANNITY: Victory is when the Iraqis can defend themselves and sustain their fledging democracy, which is getting stronger every day, and that — if only Democrats could believe in the U.S. troops' ability to win.

Got to take a break.

FLEMING: We do believe in the troops ability...

HANNITY: We'll have more with Ann and Jane after the break.


COLMES: And we continue now with the author of "Godless," Ann Coulter, and from the Young Democrats of America, Jane Fleming.

OK, so we've got a failing policy in Iraq. The president says let's send more troops, let's continue to do what we've already done. Where is the correction? And what's going to solve the problem? You've got a better idea, Ann?

COULTER: No, I don't need a better idea. I'm with the president.

FLEMING: Birds are squeaking.

COLMES: Birds are squeaking? So you're with the president.

COULTER: I don't understand what the question is. I'm with the president. You're the ones engaging in the pointless chitchat to run down the war and hoping we'll lose.


COLMES: I don't understand. The Democrats have a plan which says let's have specific benchmarks within a certain period of time. And when those economic and political and military benchmarks are met, we can begin to withdraw American troops. What's the other plan?

COULTER: No, that is not — what Democrat plan? Democrats have 17 different plans.

COLMES: Well, Kerry has said it, and other Democrats have said it, three congresswomen are saying it today.


COULTER: ... "American Idol" call-in program on when we should withdraw the troops. And, no, this idea of punishing our allies and friends, I mean, it's one step away from, if they don't need our benchmarks, it's one step away from President Kennedy assassinating our ally in the middle of a war. Like I say, why don't Democrats care about incentivizing our enemies by punishing them? No, you always want to punish our friends, reward our enemies.

COLMES: Jane, it seems like the American people spoke pretty loudly in November. This was a cornerstone of the reason Republicans lost so heavily. The message was sent. The president doesn't seem to get it. Chuck Hagel does, and some Republicans seem to, but many don't, including the administration.


COLMES: Jane, go ahead. Jane, go ahead.

FLEMING: Not only did Americans speak after the 2006 election, but they continue to speak. Over 70 percent of the Americans are against the escalation in Iraq. And so George Bush is really a lone ranger on going into Iraq with more troops, besides, of course, McCain, who continues to flip flop on this issue.

COLMES: So, Ann, what Republican candidate, Ann, do you like?

COULTER: Pardon me, Democrat candidate?

COLMES: Republican?

COULTER: I like them all.

COLMES: They're all the same?

COULTER: I like how the Democrats are running like mad from Hillary.

COLMES: Who's running from Hillary?

FLEMING: We're not.

COLMES: Who is running from Hillary? Who?

COULTER: I think the immediate frontrunner status of Obama indicates some doubts on the part of your prior frontrunner.

FLEMING: We have lots of rock stars on our side.

HANNITY: Oh, really?

FLEMING: We have Obama; we have Edwards; we have Clinton.

HANNITY: Rock star?

FLEMING: There's lots of great ones out there.

HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you, Jane Fleming. Do you think America is capable of winning Iraq or do you have zero faith in our military's ability to win that war?

FLEMING: I have lots of faith in the military's ability, although this is not only a military solution. That's why we keep on coming back to...


HANNITY: Jane, you've got to focus on my question. It's simple.

FLEMING: I did focus on it.

HANNITY: Is America capable of winning in Iraq?

FLEMING: I think that we can win in Iraq if we create a military solution along with a political solution. If we continue to go down the sole path of a military solution, we will not win, and Iraq will not win. They will not have peace in their country.

HANNITY: But if we cut, run, and redeploy, then the military aspect of that solution is gone.

FLEMING: Sean, I'm with you that our military has got to stand with their military in order to train their troops. But why aren't we focusing on that, rather than putting our troops in the streets to fight some unidentified enemy?

HANNITY: But that's what the president's plan is.

Ann Coulter, you know, I guess we've got to educate our liberal friends here, and you're a constitutional attorney, so you're the perfect person to ask. I thought we had only one commander-in-chief, not 535 commanders-in-chief.

I find it pretty amazing that, you know, people actually want to run wars by polls and think that the opinion of certain members of Congress mean more than the president. Does that surprise you, their position on that?

COULTER: No. When you don't have an argument, you start citing meaningless polls. Like I say, they can't go on TV and say nothing. They have to chitchat about something. And before it was more troops. Now they want fewer troops. It's redeploy to here, there, or Japan. It's just words. They have to go on and say something, but the point is the Democrats do want us to lose this war.

HANNITY: All right. Let me go back.

COULTER: That will improve their position.

HANNITY: Well, it's sad to think, for Democrats to gain politically, things have to go bad for them. And there's a great piece by Tony Blankley in today's Washington Times.

You know, I know that everybody is sort of — this Barack Obama mania going on in the country right now, Jane Fleming. Can you name his position — can you name one major accomplishment that he's had politically?

FLEMING: Yes. When he was in the state legislature in Illinois, he did pass welfare reform, as well as an earned tax credits for low-income families.

HANNITY: And that makes him qualified to be a president of the United States?

FLEMING: He had six years in the statehouse, two years in the Senate, which is actually more experience than Abraham Lincoln had when he ran, not to mention...

HANNITY: You're comparing him to Lincoln?

FLEMING: ... the experience that our — not to mention the experience that our president had as a pretend governor in Texas, which we all know was a ceremonial position.

HANNITY: No, he was actually a real governor in Texas. What do you mean...

FLEMING: It's a ceremonial position. Everybody knows that. It's the only governorship in the United States that is like that.

COULTER: I didn't know that.

HANNITY: OK. Ann Coulter, when you look at the Republican primary, I mean, we've got Rudy Giuliani. You've got Senator McCain. You got Mitt Romney. Is there anyone that you like more than the other?

COULTER: Yes, Mitt Romney. I mean, I love Duncan Hunter. I think Mitt Romney probably has more of a chance now, a governor of a blue state. I don't think Giuliani or McCain have a chance with their positions on guns, gay marriage and abortion.

COLMES: You just told me you liked all of them, Ann. I asked you that — you told me you liked all of them when I asked you.


COULTER: ... all the Democrats. No, no, no, I said I liked all the Democrats. I love all the Democrats.

COLMES: All right. I thank you both very much for being with us.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2007 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, LLC'S and Voxant, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.