This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," November 16, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Sean Hannity.

Also coming up tonight, these two convicts, they're on the loose tonight, and authorities need your help. We'll have an update coming up.

But first, the race card may be in play in the Maryland Senate campaign, where the first African-American to serve in a statewide office, Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, is running for the Republican nomination.

Now, the Washington Times reported that Steele has endured racial slurs and cartoons for years. In 2001, he was called a, quote, "Uncle Tom" by the president of the state Senate.

Earlier this year, a liberal web site called him, quote, "Simple Sambo," who wants to move into the big house. It also depicted him as a black-faced minstrel. And according to reports, he was pelted with Oreo cookies during a 2002 campaign stop.

And all of these attacks and all of these slurs were made by liberals and for one reason: Mr. Steele is an African-American Republican.

Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, he joins us on "Hannity & Colmes" tonight for an exclusive interview.

Michael, first of all, I am very sorry in this day and age to see that any American has to live through this, but it is — the fact that it is — there is not outspoken condemnation of this by Democrats is even more shocking in this day and age. Tell us what's happening.

LT. GOV. MICHAEL STEELE (R), MARYLAND SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, it's the nature of the beast that we have to live with. As you know, if you an African-American Republican, it's not easy going. Our state is 2-1 Democrat registration. It does tend to have a left of center bent politically.

But the reality of it is that, you know, a lot of these condemnations, a lot of these invectives really come out of fear that there's a different voice on the stage, there's a different mindset that's emerging, not just in the black community but across the state that I think reflects a desire for empowerment, a desire for greater opportunities, not the status quo type of government that we've been fed for many generations.

But an opportunity for people to expand and to think for themselves and to come to — you know, through independent thought what makes them different and what, you know, what they need to do to aspire and meet their dreams.

HANNITY: Michael, let's talk specifically about what you've had to endure. You had Oreo cookies thrown at you.


HANNITY: You've been called all these horrible names.


HANNITY: Tell us what else you've experienced. What has been the reaction of the people of Maryland? What has been the reaction of the Democratic Party both for and against?

STEELE: Well, it's been fairly silent in terms of an overall party operation. I mean, they've sort of backpedaled a little bit and tried to explain away some of the remarks of the elected officials. Now keep in mind, these were elected officials who made the most recent disparaging remarks, basically condoning racial epithets against me, because, as they said, my values do not reflect the values.

HANNITY: Explain that.

STEELE: Well, you know, basically my values as a conservative Republican do not reflect the values of the masses of black people.

Well, my response was, explain that to the black woman who raised me, because they were her values. They were the values that, as a sharecropper's daughter, she instilled in me: to be responsible, to take opportunity head on and to make the most of what the talent and the gifts that God has given me.

HANNITY: Let me ask you.

STEELE: As well as reaching for the American dream. So when people start down this road of trying to put things in black and white and racial overtones, I think it diminishes the debate. I think it's a distraction.

HANNITY: But this is happening in just about every instance where there is an outspoken African-American who happens to be a conservative. Does that prevent people from speaking out, do you think?

STEELE: It doesn't prevent me. I'm my own man, and I continue to stand in the town square and share my thoughts about hope and opportunity. But more importantly, turning hope into action.

For my Senate race, my goal, my desire, my effort is to build a bridge between Maryland and its government, between the people and their leaders.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey, Michael, it's Alan. Welcome to the show.

STEELE: Make sure that there's a strong voice. Hey, Alan. How are you?

COLMES: Thank you for coming on.

Look, I condemn any attempt to bring race into this as a liberal Democrat.

STEELE: Absolutely.

COLMES: But I'm not the only Democrat who's done that. The liberal — the Maryland Democratic Party denounced that liberal blogger, by the way, said it had no place in politics or any other aspect of public discourse.

Howard Dean said he opposes any effort to make this about race. Elijah Cummings, Albert Wynn, Kweisi Mfume all repudiated racial comments. So it's not true the Democrats have been silent about some of the treatment you've received.

STEELE: Well, I would beg to differ with your definition of not being silent. Howard Dean did not specifically address the incidents in Maryland. He spoke more generically. When given the direct opportunity to repudiate the words, the racial, bigoted words of elected officials, Democrat elected officials, he didn't.

COLMES: He did actually say on "Meet the Press," "I disagree with that statement," because he did say that and so have all these other Democrats I've mentioned.

STEELE: Well, you know, you say tomato, I say tomato. The reality of it for me is that when you have this environment, when you have individuals who feel the only way they can address specific issues of the day is to start the name calling, to start trying to put things in the boxes and scaring people through their language, that's not effective leadership in my view.

COLMES: I agree with you.

STEELE: It's not the kind of community I want to live in. And the words and the phraseology and all of that speaks ill.

Dr. King said one very important thing in all the messages that he left us, was judge someone not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.

COLMES: Absolutely.

STEELE: And I think in this instance the people of Maryland, as the people around this country, will be able to judge those who speak this way, not by their skin but by the content of their character.

COLMES: I agree with you on that. I think many Democrats do, too, as I've express. But I want to ask you about — now one of the criticisms — you come under fire for defending the governor's appearance in an all-white club for a Republican fundraiser and not repudiating him for doing that. That has gotten many people riled with you.

STEELE: Well, there's a whole lot to that story that didn't get written, but this is the bottom line. Those clubs, those social clubs, those country clubs that are all-white or whatever are misplaced in this day and age. There is no place for those types of clubs.

COLMES: Should the governor go there?

STEELE: Should the governor go there? No, the governor shouldn't go there. But the governor at the time didn't know what the membership operation was. He didn't know. I didn't know.

The Democrats who themselves had attended functions at that club didn't know.

COLMES: Wrong, too.

STEELE: Because it was a private club. Once it became known that it was not racially balanced, if you will, that blacks were not allowed, other minorities were not allowed, we spoke up against that. We called for the club to open its doors to all Marylanders, and the club has.

So you know, it's not a question of, you know, being in a defensive posture. It's calling out racism when you see it, acknowledging it and hoping — helping people move on from there.

HANNITY: Michael, we admire your courage and leadership. We're sorry this day and age that you have had to withstand these unfair attacks and wish you the best in your race there.

STEELE: Thank you, sir.

HANNITY: Thank you very much.

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