Fox News April 6, 2004
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Fox News Network
SHOW: FOX HANNITY & COLMES
April 6, 2004 Tuesday
HEADLINE: Interview With Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Xavier Becerra
GUESTS: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Xavier Becerra
BYLINE: Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes
HANNITY: Still to come tonight, so what do President Bush and Richard Nixon have in common?
Well, according to John Dean, who was a central figure in the Watergate scandal, the Bush administration is worse. Oh, really? He'll be here to explain.
But first for more on the fierce fighting today in Iraq we're joined by Florida Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and also with us California Democratic congressman Xavier Becerra is with us. Guys, welcome back. Always good to see you both.
Congresswoman, I am concerned in a big, big way that we are not going to take the steps necessary to stop this, and this will empower this guy to get stronger and stronger every day. What do you think?
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN ®, FLORIDA: Well, we're such a humane country. And we have a humane military force. It's incredible that with all of our military might we're taking such baby steps to quell the rebellion. People still there have arms. They're using those arms against our coalition forces.
But that's the United States' way. We captured Saddam Hussein, and we hold him as a prisoner.
HANNITY: Is it wrong?
ROS-LEHTINEN: And that's certainly not the way the Iraqi people would have...
HANNITY: Should a cleric like this...
ROS-LEHTINEN: Would have held us in custody.
HANNITY: Should a cleric like this be allowed to hide out in a mosque even though...
ROS-LEHTINEN: Absolutely not.
HANNITY: ... he's orchestrated attacks against Americans?
ROS-LEHTINEN: Absolutely not. And I understand the sensibilities because it is a holy site and many fear that this will empower him and embolden him all the more.
However, he has already caused the deaths of many Americans. He's rallying the troops against us. He has a history of trying to empower himself by shielding himself incorrectly by using religion, a very warped version of religion, and he's nothing more than a gangster. He's a thug. We should have gone out there and gotten him and it might have resulted in less deaths. So we're being way too gingerly about this.
HANNITY: Congressman, do you agree with that assessment?
REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: I think it's a complicated situation because whatever we do will have consequences and we're finding that out every day. I don't believe you can go in there and say you'll take him out and not suffer some real consequences, not just in Iraq, but I can imagine other Muslim factions will try to retaliate against Americans throughout the world.
So certainly we have a right to go after those who who killed American soldiers, but it's a lot more complicated than it seem.
COLMES: Congresswoman, this is Alan Colmes. Weather to the voice doesn't this show the folly of having declared mission accomplished? Here we have Americans dying by the dozens now and they're proclaiming this as a great victory while we're dying there.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Every death is a terrible loss. Not just to the families but the American people and all peace-loving people. However, we've got to look at the bigger picture and what we've accomplished. Yes, I know that the video is very important to look at and it looks like the whole of Iraq is in rebellion.
I was there a few months ago and it's a bustling city in Baghdad, schools are open, hospitals are functioning. There is daily life going on there. And a poll, if you can believe it. It' showed that the Iraqi people were grateful that the Americans came and liberated them.
COLMES: I'm not questioning that the majority feel that way.
ROS-LEHTINEN: One day it will be a model for democracy and we have to start somewhere. Why are the Iraqi people not deserving of this wonderful experiment in democracy?
COLMES: Congresswoman, with that argument would go to any country, declare, we could go into any country and declare we're going to make it into a democracy, off some evil dictator and declare run a bad guy.
If that's the model you want to use, how many countries do we go into and?
Certainly in my native country in Cuba we have a bad guy as well. So I'm not saying that it's hands-off dictators. I am saying Saddam Hussein about 1998, during the Republican administrations. And that did nothing at the Congress, about the use of chemical and biological weapons against his own people resulting in the deaths of thousands and thousands. That wasn't the reason we were told. Congressman...
HANNITY: He was a threat to the entire area and needed to be removed. We're much Better off now.
COLMES: I keep hearing that argument but what happened in 1988 during Republican administrations that did nothing at the time about the things the congresswoman is talking about.
Aren't we saying this is a quagmire and hornet's nest that we've gotten into?
ROS-LEHTINEN: You used the word folly. It was following-it was a reckless venture into Iraq. It has taken us away from the real task at happened and that's going after terrorists in Afghanistan and it's going to cost us a great deal in terms of American lives and money.
HANNITY: I didn't hear you criticizing Clinton when he bombed them. Who is he to lecture anybody based on his past? He was at the center of the Watergate scandal and now says the Bush administration is following in Nixon's footsteps he says only worse. Oh, really? John Dean will join us.
Does the economic recovery mean that more jobs will translate into more votes for President Bush? Our good friend economist Walter Williams is onboard tonight. We'll get his take on the state of the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We have lost the respect of other nations in the world. Where do we go to get back our respect? How do we re-establish the working relationships we need with other countries to win the war on terrorism and advance the ideals we share?
And how can we possibly expect President Bush to do that? He's the problem not the solution. Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam, and this country needs a new president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: Is Senator Kennedy right? Will Iraq turn out to be President Bush's Vietnam? We now continue with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and California Congressman Xavier Becerra.
Congresswoman, in terms of it being Vietnam, we're scheduled to turn this over to the Iraqi authorities June 30. Given what's going on now, how can we do that and isn't that day picked purely for political reasons?
ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, I'm married to a Vietnam veteran and I know when he gets together with a lot of his buddies they talk about how the Vietnam War was lot not in Vietnam. It was lost here in the United States because of people like Ted Kennedy who did nothing but run our country down...
COLMES: Come on; that's not fair at all.
ROS-LEHTINEN: And they undermined-people like him, I said. People who undermined our will.
And what we need to do is stay the course in Iraq. We're doing a good job. The life is getting better and better for the Iraqi people. Yes, it's a difficult war but we've got terrorists all around us. It is much better to continue the war, the international war against terrorism in Iraq and in Afghanistan rather than here in the United States.
COLMES: What I asked you about-and by the way, it was people like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry because they protested the war in Vietnam, got us out of the quagmire sooner than we would have and, I think, saved lives, frankly.
But you didn't answer my question about June 30 and how we, given the circumstances, can turn it over.
ROS-LEHTINEN: We can turn it over, but that does not mean that the United States is going to pull away. People have this June 30 deadline in their minds, and they think that the military then comes home.
We're going to stay the course. We're going to stay until we get the job done, until we can have that smooth transition. We're going to let the Iraqi government-the Iraqi people run their own government, but that does not mean the United States and the coalition forces are going to pull out militarily from Iraq.
ROS-LEHTINEN: We're going to stay there. And Iraqis will decide for themselves what kind of democratic government they want.
COLMES: Let me get a comment in if I could, Congresswoman. What does that date actually mean? The military is still there; we'll still be taking hits? Heaven forbid we still lose lives after the 30th? So what does it mean we're turning it over on the 30th, the 1st of July?
BECERRA: Is that to me?
BECERRA: You're right. June 30 or not, the real authority on the ground in Iraq will continue to be the U.S. That won't change. The loss of American lives won't change. Nor will the fact that we don't have an exit strategy. When the president says we're going to stay the course, I'd like to see the president's map.
HANNITY: All right. You know something?...
BECERRA: Americans don't know what will happen and when.
HANNITY: Let me give some historical content. I find it amazing-here is Teddy Kennedy forgetting about him having talked about credibility gaps, losing a basic bond of trust, truth being a casualty. We still have never gotten the truth about Mary Jo Kopechne. I'm willing to put that aside for the sake of this discussion.
But you know, it was his brother-well, let's roll the tape, John F. Kennedy himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: And Congressman, then he went ahead-it was John Kennedy that put 26,000 troops into Vietnam, resulting in 60,000 deaths, and we're now supposed to listen to lectures from his brother, who never criticized his own brother for the same policies?
BECERRA: Sean, if you come back to the future and the present where we are now...
HANNITY: How about dealing with the hypocrisy?
BECERRA: ... and talk about where we are...
HANNITY: That's the issue here.
BECERRA: You don't want to hear the answer, then I won't give it.
HANNITY: I'm ready.
BECERRA: The reality is that right now on the ground we don't have mission accomplished.
HANNITY: Sixty thousand people died in Vietnam. His brother got it all started and now he's going to lecture us on the lessons of Vietnam?
BECERRA: We're going to get stuck in a quagmire and that's all that's...
HANNITY: You're a broken record, Congressman. Answer the question. Who is Ted Kennedy-Who is Ted Kennedy to lecture anybody when his brother led us into this effort --
BECERRA: Ted Kennedy is one of the renowned policymakers and leaders of this country. He's given us health care.
HANNITY: Health care.
BECERRA: He's given us education. And he has every right to speak on these issues and he happens to be telling the truth.
HANNITY: Do you think it's fair, Congresswoman...
BECERRA: Whether we like it or not is not the point.
HANNITY: I think it's a good thing that he's become the attack dog for the Kerry campaign, Congresswoman.
BECERRA: I don't think he's the attack dog. He's telling us what is happening.
HANNITY: Congressman, you're not a Congresswoman the last time I saw.
BECERRA: Sean, one last point.
HANNITY: Let me go to...
BECERRA: More troops today than we have since May of 2003.
BECERRA: That means the deadliest day, when we're supposed to be...
HANNITY: Congressman, can you let her talk, please, for a second. Can you please let somebody else talk?
HANNITY: Is it right to have this guy the attack dog for Kerry?
ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, I don't think that Senator Kerry has made a wise decision in having Ted Kennedy be his mouthpiece. I think that he represents the liberal left wing of the Democratic Party. And he represents what he said about President Bush, a part of the problem not part of the solution.
ROS-LEHTINEN: We want to make sure that we have a free Iraq, and President Bush has the principles and the leadership to get the work done.
COLMES: We're just out of time.
ROS-LEHTINEN: And the troops support him.
COLMES: We thank you both very much for being with us tonight.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you.
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