Triumphant Tea Parties

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," April 16, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: Thousands of people from coast to coast took to the streets for the tea party protests. And the story -- it is far from over. The question now -- Is this the beginning of a new era, a grass-roots conservative explosion, or a passing fancy, just a whim. Sean Hannity goes "On the Record" in moments, but first the numbers. Estimates that in Atlanta, as many as 20,000 people took to the streets, in Washington state, more than 5,000, in Phoenix, Arizona, more than 5,000, in San Antonio, between 4,000 and 5,000, in Lansing, Michigan, between 3,000 and 4,000. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Today, one day later, people are still talking about the tea parties. The big question, Is a conservative grass roots explosion erupting?

Rush Limbaugh is answering this, and he has some very tough words for President Obama and critics of the tea party protest.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Do you remember, folks, when inspiring new people to the political process was a grand and glorious thing? In fact, that's what we were told the Obama campaign was all about. President Obama was hailed as a candidate because people who had never cared about politics before were now interested. They wanted to unify the country. They wanted to all get along. They were becoming politically active. It was a sign of a healthy body politic. And of course, it was wonderful because it was a Democrat president doing it, and he was double wonderful because it was an African-American candidate doing it. All this fit so many templates of the drive-by media and the American left!

And the people yesterday at the tea parties not caught up in personalities. They were there because of issues. And there were young people there and there were people from all walks of life, and they are terribly concerned about what they see going on to their country. But since it wasn't anything to do positively with Obama, it had to be impugned. The people had to be mischaracterized and criticized, and their reputations destroyed, and so forth, their very identities.

The -- you know, as far as the media is concerned, the Democrat Party -- since they're not caught up in personality, since they're not part of a cult, since they're not out there bowing down to Obama, they're extremists in the eyes of Janet Napolitano and others at the Department of Homeland Security. They're caught up in adult issues. These people at the tea parties were caught up in adult issues, like irresponsible spending, self- defeating bail-outs, higher taxes that are going to follow all of this...


VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's not just Rush on fire over the tea parties. Moments ago, Sean Hannity went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Sean, back from Atlanta. How was the tea party down there?

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": Beside -- my voice is still a little bit scratchy, Greta, but I got to tell you something. And we were talking about this the other night. It was an inspiring day for me. And I mean that sincerely. I feel as energized, as motivated, as inspired as I've ever been.

You know, you were asking me the other night, and I said I couldn't look into my crystal ball. Well, now we know how many people showed up, and it was over 20,000 people, Greta. And it was -- it was unbelievable. I thought the sea of people would actually never, you know, end. I mean, we had a stage. We had two of the longest blocks on either side, and people went down there and then down and wrapped around. I mean, it was incredible.

And the other thing, Greta, that really just stood out to me is who were the people that showed up. They were young. They were old. They were children. There were people of all backgrounds, people that told me they were Democrat, liberal, Libertarian. And they were all there because -- for one reason. They think America is heading in the wrong direction. They feel strongly about it, that we're stealing from our kids and our grandkids, and they don't want to put this massive debt on them. They're tired of confiscatory taxation. They feel government is out of touch and doesn't hear them nor understand them. So it was a pretty inspiring day for me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know if this group that sponsored this or who was sort of the catalyst behind it or any groups have already begun making plans for another one? Because, you know, there are a lot of people that turned out yesterday, but the question is, is this sort of, you know, a passing fancy, or whether this truly is a movement and plans are to -- you know, to keep it going?

HANNITY: I actually did speak to the Atlanta organizer, Greta, and they are thinking about perhaps doing one over the 4th of July, and some other ones.

Look, this was -- I was at one of what, 300-plus around the country. So you know, why they wouldn't consider expanding on it or building on it - - we had Neil Boortz on the program last night, and he said that this has got to be the spark. This has got to be the beginning. And his hope and my hope would be -- because I think America's heading in the wrong direction. I do not think we can afford this, Greta. I think we're bankrupting the country.

Watch Greta's interview with Sean Hannity

I think the Democrats, you know, are so immersed in their own power that I think they have reverted to the -- to a form. They've misinterpreted election results and they're spending way too much money. There is no family in America that if you find yourself in economic trouble like this, that you would spend more money, that you would accumulate more debt and think that that was the right answer. So I suspect that we're going to see a lot more of these.

VAN SUSTEREN: What does this group do, though, I mean, the people who attended the tea parties across the country? Because as a practical matter, it's a Democratic president. It's a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate. And they have -- they have made giant, you know, changes in the last three months in terms of the spending. I mean, what can these tea party people do, except for have these occasional tea parties?

HANNITY: You know, I think it's more than that because, you know, it was very interesting. Dick Morris said earlier on our show tonight that he thinks that maybe the people that will pay the most attention to this -- maybe it's not going to be Barack Obama or Rahmbo "dead fish" Emanuel -- my nickname for him -- it's a charming nickname, don't you think? Maybe they won't pay as much attention, but maybe the Blue Dog Democrats will. Maybe the Evan Bayhs of the United States Senate will. You might see...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he is -- Senator Bayh was against the stimulus bill...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... And he's been a governor and he knows about how you got to pay your bills and you can't overspend, so Senator Bayh, he -- you know, he's -- he doesn't need -- I mean, I think he's with the tea party. He wasn't attending one that I know of, but I think he's with the sentiment that you can't have all this spending. At least, that's what I suspect.

HANNITY: Well, I -- it's interesting you bring that up because I watched your last interview, the last time that you were with Evan Bayh, and that was right around the time, if my memory serves me well, that he was going against his own party on the stimulus.

But I think there's going to be -- there are some moderate Democrats in some very tough districts that are thinking that this may be the beginning of a backlash, that people sense that we're going in the wrong direction.

Look, Greta, everybody wants the economy to do well. And you and I discussed this in some detail the other night, and that is, you know, what is our vision for America? This is not about limited government and more government in our lives. This -- we've come a long way from Bill Clinton - - "the end of welfare as we know it," "the era of big government" being over. This is now a fundamental debate about socialism and capitalism.

And the fact of the matter is, the people that you see there, the 20,000-plus that showed up in Atlanta last night, they are the people that work really hard every day. They're the ones that pay all the taxes. They're the ones that care about future generations. They play by the rules. They pay their taxes. They obey the laws.

And now they're being called, you know, unpatriotic by Joe Biden, when he says, Well, it's your patriotic duty. You know, we have a president that saying we're arrogant as he travels around the globe and as he bows before the Saudi king. And there is real reluctance and resentment building because about 50 percent of the tax base is not paying a single penny in taxes. And so they're saying, You know what? Our voices are going to be loud, they're going to be united. And they obviously had a big impact yesterday.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, there are a lot of people that turned out. It'll be sort of interesting to see sort of, you know, the people who didn't turn out, if they're going to sort of, you know, take on those very issues from the other perspective. But we're going to be watching and see -- we'll find out in the next few days, few weeks, few months whether this is, you know, a real grass roots movement or not. Sean, thank you.

HANNITY: Greta, glad to do it. And I hope that the people that were -- that energized me -- they inspired me because I think they're the heart and soul of what makes America great. I hope they do keep it up. And for those critics out there, Greta, that were attacking the FOX News Channel, for those critics out there that were attacking these people -- and we dealt with this a little bit earlier in my program -- let me tell you, this is quintessentially American that people use freedom of speech and they speak out in the things that they believe will bring the country into a better place.

VAN SUSTEREN: Just as an aside, the people that usually attack people who have passion about different ideas like this probably should get out of the studio and actually go out and meet people...

HANNITY: Yes. Exactly.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and see what they have to say.

HANNITY: Which you do often.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's a big difference when you get out there.

HANNITY: I agree with you. Good point.

VAN SUSTEREN: Sean, thank you.

HANNITY: Thanks, Greta. Good to see you.


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