This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 26, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Former senator and potential presidential candidate Fred Thompson is back with us. Senator, how are you?


HANNITY: Thank you for being here. By the way, I see right behind me here, "I'm with Fred," "Run, Run, Fred, Run." So...

THOMPSON: They're all with me.

HANNITY: You brought all 12,000 people?

THOMPSON: You're a great guy to hang around with. That's guaranteed applause.


THOMPSON: Maybe you ought to be thinking about running.

HANNITY: No, I want to keep that away from me. We'll get the big question out of the way first, because there was speculation you may announce on the 4th of July. Maybe it's after Labor Day. Are you planning on making an announcement that you're getting in this race anytime soon?

THOMPSON: August is kind of a down month, not much going on, so it wouldn't make sense to do it in August, but clearly, I think you know the direction I'm headed in. A final decision will be made soon, and I'm just urging my friends to keep their powder dry.

We put our toe in the water a while back, haven't been planning this thing for years. It takes a while to get your organization together and get your apparatus going. But the response has been tremendous, and I can't tell you how appreciative I am for that. And we're going to respond to that. We'll have an announcement to make and the final decision to make in the near future.

HANNITY: Obviously, I guess your opponents are thinking you're running, a lot of attacks coming in. The New York Times attacked, quote, "your trophy wife," and you had a pretty humorous answer. You said, "No, no, no, I'm the trophy husband," which made a lot of people laugh.

THOMPSON: I'm not sure she would agree with that, but...

HANNITY: The Washington Post is attacking every client that you represented as if those were your views. Do you want to respond to any of that?

THOMPSON: No, not really. I mean, they're a little bit upset I'm not playing by their rules. You know, everybody announced earlier this year. Traditionally, it's been later in the year in the fall when people would announce. I read somewhere the other day, your buddy, John Kerry, announced in September.

HANNITY: My buddy?

THOMPSON: That is to get the primary. But I'm doing it at my own pace, and they want to make sure that I don't get all the benefit from it, because I seem to be doing OK without announcing yet, and none of the detriment, so they're making sure I get some detriment.

So I'm getting a lot of attention from the Democratic National Committee and even Senator Clinton the other day, and Michael Moore, and a few other folks. We can live with that.

HANNITY: A few other friends, right? Let's talk about this. Right now, there's a battle going on between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, a question that came up in the debate the other night about whether we would sit down and talk with our enemies, people like North Korea and Iran and Ahmadinejad. And Hillary said that Barack Obama was naive and irresponsible for wanting to talk to some of these enemies.

First of all, what do you think of that back and forth? Because Hillary has changed her position on that just from three months ago. And what is your position about talking to Iran and North Korea?

THOMPSON: Well, as I understand it, Senator Clinton was suggesting that the thing she disagreed with was the fact that Clinton thought that they should send an envoy first to make sure that they wouldn't use it for propaganda purposes. My response to that is that I don't trust their envoy. I mean, what if he says that they won? It wouldn't mean anything.

When you are at that high a level, when you're talking about national leaders or cabinet members or something like that, there's a symbolic factor that you have to consider.

These people are killing our people. These Iranians are doing everything they can to undermine us and have been for a while, through Hezbollah and otherwise. They perceive us to be weak right now. If we met with them at those levels now, it would look like we were coming to them. It would look like that we were weak, and they would use that for sure for propaganda purposes and recruiting purposes.

HANNITY: I've never understood, what's the first question that Barack Obama would ask Ahmadinejad? "Will you believe the historical fact that the Holocaust occurred?" "Will you please, Mr. Ahmadinejad, please stop threatening to wipe Israel off the map?" I'm trying to understand, where do you begin the negotiation with somebody with those extremist views?

THOMPSON: "Would you quit sending people and IEDs, explosive devices, and weaponry into Iraq killing our people right now?" No, it is a naive proposition. And you can always keep the avenues open at lower levels on a secretive basis, if they want to change their position on it, but there's no indication that they're going to do anything but look out for their self-interest.

A lot of political leaders think that they can persuade these tyrants by the force of their personality to move off their position. They won't. They look at it for what they consider to be their interest, and their interest is undermining us.

HANNITY: What do you make of Hillary Clinton's popularity? It seems like she's running away with the Democratic nomination, seems to be popular. I would assume some of this will translate to the general election. What do you think of her and her positions?

THOMPSON: Well, I don't know about the popularity, Sean. I mean, from what I read, there's a high negative factor. And some...

HANNITY: Popularity meaning that she'll get the nomination.

THOMPSON: Yes, in the Democratic Party, I think that she's appealing to the base. I think their base has gotten more and more left, and everybody's kind of scrambling to go off that left-wing cliff. And she's trying to make sure nobody gets to the left of her.


THOMPSON: And so she's appealing to who she feels like she has to appeal to. And I think she is popular, and the Clintons have been courting that base for a long, long time now, both of them. And, you know, they're smart politicians, and they're doing what they feel like they have to do. But, unfortunately, for them, I don't think it's going to work in the general election.

HANNITY: What do you think of the Republican candidates that you'll go up against in the primary? You've got — the leader right now is Rudy Giuliani. You've got Mitt Romney, Senator McCain in there. Obviously, you must have differences or else you wouldn't even be considering getting in the race. Where do you see some of the differences or distinctions in your positions?

THOMPSON: Sean, I don't want to talk about them. I really don't. I think it's going to be extremely important that we come out unified after this election. There will probably be times that, you know, you have to respond to soma things people are saying.

They're beginning now, because I'm perceived to be doing well, and they're getting a little bit disturbed that they've spent all this money and haven't done any better than they have, some of them, but I'm going to hang off of that for as long as I possibly can.

It's really between — as far as I'm concerned, I'm responding to what I think is going on out in the country today. I'm responding to what I perceive to be an opportunity the American people are giving me to establish myself and to prove that I'm worthy of their consideration. And if I can do that, these other guys are irrelevant; if I can't do that, then I'm irrelevant.

HANNITY: OK. Senator Thompson, good to see you. Thank you for joining us in San Diego. We appreciate it.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

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