This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 25, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The president may be away but the health care debate continues to rage in his absence. Now during the August recess, our lawmakers are facing their constituents head on and in many cases, the picture is not pretty.
Now we are keeping track of all the latest and for that, we go to our own Griff Jenkins, who is live in Reston, Virginia, where Congressman Jim Moran and Howard Dean are holding a town hall meeting. Griff?
GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Sean. If 2001 was the summer of sharks, this is the summer of town halls and this one is no less cantankerous and passion as any of the other we've seen. Perhaps it's because Chairman Dean turned out with Congressman Jim Moran.
This one, Sean, feels like campaign mode. You can see Organizing for America putting thousands of these signs and the audience teaming together on health care reform. There's about 3,000 people here and they're not standing altogether.
Here's a little bit of what happened outside this event. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what we can have is a system that's not decided by the government but decided by the free market. Why don't we have — once we have.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Free market –-
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Work toward being part of the solution instead of just saying no to everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you know — ma'am, you have no — you don't know. Of course that's what I'm working for. That's why I'm here. I'm a physician. So you asked me a question. Can I finish or will you talk over me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And hang on a second, fellow. You've talked much more than anybody else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the fact of the matter is you want to reform the entire health care system — sir, yes, but that again, that's a farce.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JENKINS: So you see a lot of passion. You can hear the crowd over me. Chairman Dean, of course, met with a lot of passionate voices. Last night, Chairman Dean has drawn some criticisms on blogs today for what he said about Republican lawmakers opposing the president's health care initiative.
Here's what he said on another program last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: This Republican Party is — this shrinking Republican Party is just determined to undermine President Obama and unfortunately you have to undermine the country in order to undermine the president. I think that's too bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JENKINS: Now I tried to catch up with Chairman Dean and ask him a question. He seemed to have changed his tune a little bit as he was coming in this event. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENKINS: You said last night in a program that Republicans opposing the president's initiatives, health care initiatives, were undermining the country. Could you clarify that for me?
DEAN: I didn't say that. I did not say that.
JENKINS: I have your quote right here, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JENKINS: Sean, interestingly enough they handed out the George Washington Rules of Civility when these some 3,000 people showed up here. But here's how Chairman Dean was received when he was introduced almost an hour after the program began. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: This country spends 17 percent of its Gross National Product on health care. The next –-
REP. JIM MORAN, D-VA.: I'm sorry, but I can't even hear the governor and I'm sitting next to him. They really don't belong here and I'm going to ask them to leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JENKINS: Now one person was escorted out. Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry as well as another gentleman sort of supporting him, for disrupting. But certainly that passion continues and debate continues about 20 miles from Washington.
Sean, back to you.
HANNITY:And thanks, Griff.
And joining me now to discuss all of this is Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.
Governor, what an incredible report here. First, your reaction. Governor Dean — Dr. Dean did say, "undermine our country." He was right there. They're asking people to leave. "They don't belong here." Since when do American citizens not belong confronting their public servants. Is that new in America?
GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY, R-MINN.: Well, that report I think showed you and your viewers and all of us, Sean, the sights and sounds of democracy in action. I think that should be applauded and we should say thank you to the people who are standing up to a very bad idea.
We have in this tradition an ability for people to fight against ideas that they don't like. Now we want them to do it peacefully and civilly but this is something that should be respected, not criticized.
And if anybody is undermining the direction of the country I think it's people like Dr. Dean who are saying we should have a new health care system like proposed by President Obama.
HANNITY:Yes. It'll be interesting to see if the media will call him out on what he just specifically lied about because we saw the tape saying it, and we heard him in our — you know, our own ears.
Here's the problem, Governor. We have 17 of 58 Democratic senators. Obviously, Senator Byrd and Kennedy are not feeling well so I wouldn't expect they'd have a town hall, but in other words, less than a third are willing to go out and meet with the American people.
Grandmothers, stay-at-home moms, veterans, concerned citizens. Do you think they're hiding from the American people? Do you think they're afraid?
PAWLENTY: Well, clearly there's been a scaling back of these town halls because they don't want to be confronted by citizens who are concerned, who have questions, in many cases, are upset.
And again, that's democracy in action. I think they should be willing to stand in and hear that input. But this idea of reforming health care like President Obama has put on the table is very troubling, Sean.
We have a federal government that can't even run the entitlement programs that it has now. Why would we give them another one? Having the Democrats watch your money and keep an eye over your money is like having Michael Vick watch your dog for the weekend.
HANNITY:Well, you know, the post office is going bankrupt. We know what happened to Fannie and Freddie, Medicare, Social Security, they're going bankrupt. And I don't anyone was too happy with the government — state-run government, local run government during Hurricane Katrina.
But there are people that still believe that the government is capable of doing this. I'm not sure where that confidence comes from. Are you?
PAWLENTY: Well, I think if you look at the track record, the ones you mentioned, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, plus the others, they have basically put — to a pathway to bankruptcy every significant entitlement program that they run.
We should not give them another one. There should be a debate about fixing health care. We all acknowledge and admit, and we can acknowledge that it needs to be fixed but it needs to be fixed with consumers in charge, not the federal government.
HANNITY:All right, Governor, we now look at the president's poll numbers as he heads to Martha's Vineyard for vacation. And 45 percent, according to John Zogby. He had a negative presidential approval index, 11 today. As low as 14 just a day — two days ago.
Here's what we have. Barack Obama six months ago he predicted what the deficit would be. He was off by over $2 trillion. He now is predicting, in spite of his promise that if we pass the stimulus that unemployment wouldn't go above 8 percent. He is now predicting we're going to hit double-digits. And it's going to be for the better part of 2010, it's going to be around 10 percent unemployment in this country.
And I'm looking at this and I see that the rest of the media is focused in on Eric Holder and the CIA and the appointment of Ben Bernanke. And that seems to me to be a kind of bait and switch.
Do you think they're purposely trying to distract the American people away from these low poll numbers and away from the fact that their predictions have been so off and away from the fact that the American people are speaking out so loudly at these town halls?
PAWLENTY: Not necessarily, Sean. I think that their judgment is so bad and they are so hard left that they're making mistakes on multiple fronts all at once.
As bad as the health care plan is, and it's bad for all the reasons you've been highlighting to your viewers, this decision by Eric Holder today to politicize interrogations, to bring it into the White House, we should be prosecuting individuals who are involved in the war on terror as terrorists. They are cold blood killers.
We should not be prosecuting individuals who are working hard day in and day out to protect this country. In many cases, risking their own lives. These individuals should be, you know, encouraged and supported in their roles. But to have — see the CIA basically have this taken away from them I think is outrageous.
The attorney general should be reminded we are still a nation at war and CIA shouldn't stand for "can't interrogate anyone."
HANNITY:Well, I agree. No, I think these guys are heroes. And what's interesting about it, if you even look at page 85, the government in its own report actually admits that the program was more successful. Every CIA director said that it was more successful. They got more intelligence, more information, saved more lives than all of our intelligence communities combined.
But I do believe there's a political factor here. As the president is on vacation, I do believe they want to change the story away from these town halls, their falling poll numbers. You don't think that's a factor at all in all of this?
PAWLENTY: It may be a factor, but I think they are multiplying their troubles. The country isn't going to lose sight of this health care issue. It is high on everybody's list of concerns. It's going to remain with us as they try to bring this back on a debate in the fall. But the situation where we are going.
HANNITY:All right. Last question.
PAWLENTY: ... now be — yes.
PAWLENTY: I think they're making multiple mistakes all at once.
HANNITY:All right. Will they be successful in passing this or not?
PAWLENTY: I sure hope not, Sean. I hope and pray not.
HANNITY:I hope and pray not, too. Governor, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.
PAWLENTY: OK. Thank you.
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