This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 25, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." Earlier, Sean and I spoke with Maryland Senate candidate and Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele about a report that a confidential memo prepared for the Democratic Party calls for aggressive and immediate action against Mr. Steele.


SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: People are very open to you.


HANNITY: They like your message. They think you've done a good job. But this is how it's spun in this memo -- in this memo that we talked about here. And the fact that they want to run a race-based campaign to attack you is very troublesome to me.


HANNITY: They view you "a unique challenge." They say they — Democrats — cannot afford to wait until after the primary to knock you down.

STEELE: Yes. The goal is to discredit Michael Steele. That is their ultimate goal, is to discredit me in the eyes of my citizens and my friends and my neighbors and my community that I've represented as lieutenant governor for the last three years.

And the question back to them is, what is your idea? I mean, if you don't agree with me on an issue, great. Let's have that debate in the town square. But why do you have to tear me down personally? Why do you have to take my personal records, which involves my family, my wife and I on those credit reports together? So it's not just Michael Steele that's being harmed.

HANNITY: Here's my next question. You know, it's very troublesome to me is I just wish we'd grow beyond race.


HANNITY: And there seems to be a particular challenge that if you are African-American and you are a conservative or a Republican, I have many friends of mine that have been called vicious, hateful names, derogatory terms, just because of their political affiliation. Rejected by groups like the NAACP.

Here is an orchestrated effort to tear you down because you're an African-American, you've succeeded, but you just don't happen to be of a particular party.

STEELE: Right, I don't have a particular political orientation. A lot of that, Sean, comes out of fear. It's the fear of the change that comes with a fresh voice and new ideas.

HANNITY: You should judge people by the content of their character.

STEELE: Absolutely.

COLMES: Lieutenant Governor...


COLMES: ... a little bit differently. I appreciate you coming on the show once again.

STEELE: Good to see you, Alan.

COLMES: Good to see you, sir.

I saw this as more of a strategy memo saying do it now, don't wait till after the primary. It also said tie you to the national Republican Party.

STEELE: Absolutely.

COLMES: Don't view you as an African-American candidate, but more as a Republican. I don't see that as running a race-based campaign. Looks like the opposite.

STEELE: Well, yes, and I see you got the talking points from the DNC on that.

COLMES: No, that's not the talking points. That's actually in the memo.

STEELE: Yes, it is in the memo, but the reality is this. When it says you must discredit Michael Steele, you kind of glossed over that point, Alan. When the memo says, we must tear him down, you kind of glossed over that point.

The reality of it is, whether you couch it in flowery language or not, whether you say the objective is to tie Michael Steele to the national Republican establishment, everyone in my state knows I'm a Republican, for goodness sake. I was state party chairman. So this is no big secret here.

What they're afraid of is the fact that, as a Republican, as someone who is out of the school of Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party, who is a Frederick Douglass Republican, who is a Lincoln Republican, speaking of messages of empowerment and opportunity, turning hope into action, that's what they're going after. They're talking about tearing down the man...

COLMES: They say don't go after race, don't make it about race. Republicans also, by the way, do internal strategy memos to go after Democrats. I mean, it worked...

STEELE: Well, if you've got one, produce it.

COLMES: It works for Republicans the same way.

STEELE: The fact is, trust me, the folks on the other side are not happy this strategy memo is floating around the state of Maryland and around the country.

COLMES: Let me ask you this...

STEELE: Because it exposes — Alan, the key thing is this. You've got to be — let's be smart and real about this. This exposes the — when you have a lack of agenda, a lack of vision, a lack of message, when you clearly state out that your objective is not to — let's challenge him on health care, let's challenge him on this, let's challenge him on that.

But to destroy the man, to discredit the man, is that what we really want in politics?

COLMES: Well, this is, again, a strategy memo, and it's about finding out how the strategy — let me ask you this.


COLMES: You were — there was a story about you being pelted was the word used, with Oreo cookies, which is a terrible thing. It shouldn't happen.

STEELE: Yes. Yes.

COLMES: And then the Associated Press said that as you left this particular debate where this allegedly happened, there were Oreos rolled on the floor and that pelting didn't exactly take place. How would you describe what happened?

STEELE: Let's just be clear about what happened since I was there. When I finished the debate, this was for the debate for Governor Ehrlich and myself for this office in 2002.

When the debate was over, I was leaving. As I was leaving the auditorium, I noticed at my feet Oreo cookies, and they were there. There were two or three there. I turned to a friend and said "Got milk?" You know, it's like what's up with this?

I got the joke. You know, here is a guy, he's black on the outside, white on the inside, ha, ha. It happened.

But what it speaks to is this — a certain sadness by some who don't understand that that's what people hate about politics. They hate that kind of political behavior that seeks personal destruction as opposed to let's battle it out the ideas of the day, to come to some consensus on how we move together and forward.

And you know, it's just part of what you have to go through as a black Republican, where people are afraid of your message and how you deliver and the response you're getting from people.


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