Some Prominent Dems Liken Iraq to Vietnam

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", April 7, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: More American casualties in Iraq and the violence seems to be spreading. Is the administration handling the situation right and how patient will voters be with President Bush if things get any worse?

Joining us now, New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel. You know something, we have a lot of passionate debates over the years. And I love the fact that you served your country in North Korea. In Korea. You have always put the troops ahead of everybody else.

I find what I'm hearing from Ted Kennedy when he says this is Vietnam and when I hear Senator Byrd and Al Gore saying the president betrayed his country and preordained this attack prior to 11.

Isn't that over the top? Doesn't that hurt our troops?

NEW YORK DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN CHARLIE RANGEL: You said a mouthful. I think that while the president has the ability to provide leadership for the country and once the troops are there the political questions, they have to obey the commander in chief, it still remains a congressional and political obligation to determine whether or not the judgment of the executive branch is correct.

Whether we're talking about Vietnam, when we were forced to cut the budget in order to stop the war, or whether we're talking about increasing the budget to show America's support for the war, the people direct which way we go through the Congress.

HANNITY: Is it wrong for a former vice president to scream at the top of his lungs that George Bush betrayed his country?

RANGEL: I think so.

HANNITY: I'm glad to hear you say that. I really am. It is wrong.

RANGEL: I think the word "betrayal" is not to be used for any president of the United States. I think that the office deserves respect.

There's a part of people dying that I don't think that we can ignore. You know, I heard Mr. Perle in the early part of the show, and I think that we all have to first agree that he and Mr. Wolfowitz and vice president Cheney chain and this group that they were part of already had agreed that a preemptive strike against Iraq would be in the best interests --

HANNITY: When do you think they agreed on that?

RANGEL: Before 9/11. Before 9/11.

HANNITY: Paul O'Neill -- this is up for debate.

RANGEL: There's no debate.

HANNITY: They've agreed that he was a threat to the world and, thus, they thought a combination of his use of, in the past, of weapons of mass destruction, if it ever aligned with a terror group...

RANGEL: That's not a problem.

HANNITY: It's a deadly combination in saying that we ought to be able to handle this because it is some kind of threat to the United States. But when you put this together, with attaching him to al Qaeda, having weapons of mass destruction, and making it appear as though there's a connection between 9/11 and knowing that if the American people had thought....

HANNITY: Clinton said the same thing.

RANGEL: You know, I knew you would say that because you don't want me to finish my thought.

HANNITY: Finish your thought. I'm dying to hear it.

RANGEL: You're not dying. Over 630 people have died...

HANNITY: I know.

RANGEL: Hold it. Let me finish one point. As badly as you want, if the question was framed do you want Saddam Hussein removed bad enough to lose 630 men and women, 3,000 maimed and wounded and to have the secretary of defense say and I don't know whether we are winning or losing the war, and I don't know whether we are creating war or more terrorists that is the question.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: I keep hearing the comparisons of Clinton. Clinton didn't go in, do a regime change, take over a country. There was not this kind of loss of life.

This is not the same thing. He may have had certain rhetoric. The actions are not the same. This is what this president did. And now we are seeing the results. There's a political price to pay.

The latest Rasmussen poll -- poll that is -- says how is the president handling the situation? Twenty three percent say excellent. Forty four percent say poor. This is a political problem at this point.

RANGEL: Well, the difference between you and me is that you answer him when he talks about Clinton. And Clinton is not the president. The second thing is this.

HANNITY: I'm talking about Clinton's words.

RANGEL: I agree. The first time I agree.

I am concerned when this president says that Americans don't know that we're at war. I am concerned when he says mission accomplished. I am concerned that when he says bring them on. I am concerned when he says that we are...

HANNITY: Why? Why ...

RANGEL: You know why? You know who he's talking about bringing them on? Do you know that they're asking for another 150,000 troops.

HANNITY: They killed 3,000 Americans, Charlie. Three thousand Americans are dead.

RANGEL: Let me tell you something. If you -- If I thought for one moment that you would be able to tell our fighting men and women who did it so that we can go over there and kill them, that's one thing.

We don't know who killed them. We don't know whether there were supporters of Saddam Hussein. We don't know what country they are from.

COLMES: I want to ask you about what the Pentagon said. The Pentagon said no broad popular uprising in Iraq is going on against U.S.-led occupation forces. That was the standard...

RANGEL: Tell me about it.

COLMES: Is the Pentagon lying to us?

RANGEL: Ask the Marines. Ask the families.

COLMES: No broad popular uprising. That is a statement by our Pentagon.

RANGEL: If you're so anxious to get out of there by June 30.

HANNITY: They're going to stay; it's just a transfer of power.

COLMES: Please address whether the Pentagon is lying to us. Is the Pentagon lying to the American people.

RANGEL: I don't want to get his red meat people on the line saying that.

COLMES: Tell the truth. That is all you have to do. Tell the truth.

RANGEL: If America had known the situation we're this now that Congress never would have given support for us to go there. And we have -- if there was no weapons of mass destructions, no connection between 9/11, no al Qaeda, 630 people die to get rid of Saddam Hussein who we supported against Iran....

HANNITY: We know they had them because Bill Clinton told us.

RANGEL: Yes, I know. Alice got Wonderland but we just don't know where it is.

HANNITY: You're denying he ever had them? You're not denying he ever had them.

RANGEL: Suppose he did have them.

HANNITY: He did have them; we saw dead people.

RANGEL: So we went there and lost 630 people.

HANNITY: If al Qaeda ever got them, we'd really be in trouble. I've got to run.

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