SHOW: FOX HANNITY & COLMES (21:00)
July 7, 2004 Wednesday
Transcript # 070701cb.253
HEADLINE: Is Kerry/Edwards Ticket Too Liberal?
GUESTS: Ben Nelson, Mitch McConnell
BYLINE: Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome to "HANNITY & COLMES." I'm Alan Colmes. Coming up tonight, you'll meet the reporters who know everything there is to know about John Kerry, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Are there still more surprises to come from John Kerry's past?
And then, he was forced out of the Illinois Senate race because of shocking allegations about sex. And now, Jack Ryan is fighting back. Sean interviewed him. We'll show it to you later on.
And more grizzly details today in the Peterson trial. What does the condition of the bodies tell us about this crime? We'll have the latest developments.
First, the brand new Kerry/Edwards ticket hit the road today in front of enthusiastic crowds in Cleveland and Dayton, Ohio. But some people are saying that this ticket may be too liberal to win a general election.
Joining us now is Nebraska senator, Democrat Ben Nelson, and Kentucky Senator and Majority Whip, Mitch McConnell.
Good to see you both once again.
Senator Nelson, let me go to you. You know, every time the Democrats come up with a candidate, the Republicans want to stick the "L" word on him, as if it's a bad word to begin with.
We saw this tactic on Kerry. They used it on Dean, now they want to use it on Edwards. Is that a fair-is that a fair tactic, do you think?
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: Well, I think it's such an overused word that it has no real consequences to most people today. It seems to satisfy those who use it, but I don't think it appeals to anybody else. And I think it's so been overused that it's-it's a neutral word at this point.
COLMES: Should Kerry stand up and Edwards stand up and say, "I'm a liberal, so what?" What should they do? How should they react?
NELSON: I think they just ought to talk about what they're interested in. These are two fine gentlemen. I think they'll appeal to the public. The question is whether they will appeal more than the other side.
But I don't think they ought to apologize and certainly not respond to labels.
COLMES: Senator McConnell, what about you on that? I mean, it seems like Republicans have this issue with the "L" word and want it use it as some kind of epithet against anybody with whom they disagree.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY WHIP: Well, it's not an epithet. It's a title given to them by the "National Journal," which is certainly not controlled by the Republicans. It's an independent organization that looks at the records of members of the Senate.
And John Kerry was the most liberal. John Edwards was the fourth most liberal. And both of them, interestingly enough, were to the left of Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy.
And I think, clearly, you won't see Ben Nelson taking Kerry and Edwards around Nebraska.
COLMES: Well, but so what? I mean, the point is, you say the fourth biggest liberal, the most liberal, as if that's a bad thing?
MCCONNELL: Well, what could be more relevant than how you vote? It would be up to the American people to decide whether they think it's a good thing or a bad thing.
COLMES: Well, you're trying to make it into a bad thing. Now, look...
MCCONNELL: ... most liberal members of the Senate.
COLMES: These are people who are pro choice. Most Americans are pro choice.
They have increasingly-they have concerns about the way the war in Iraq is being prosecuted. Many Americans starting to feel that way.
They're pro environment, as most Americans care about the environment.
So, if you want to take it on an issue-by-issue basis, which is really what the deal is here, I don't see what the problem is, do you?
MCCONNELL: Well, I'm sure you don't, because you're a proud liberal, Alan. You...
COLMES: I know. You're darned right I am.
MCCONNELL: You've even suggested that Kerry brag about it. So, we would welcome-welcome them to do that, call themselves what they are, brag about it, and let the American people make their own decision about whether they think the next president and vice president of the United States ought to be two people who are to the left of Ted Kennedy.
COLMES: But I just pointed out where they stand on some key issues that I think are mainstream, where most Americans are: on choice, on the environment, on a whole host of the issues. So, I'd like to understand where you think they're so out of touch with mainstream America.
MCCONNELL: Well, I'll give you an example. They voted for the war, both of them, and then voted against paying for it. In other words, they voted to give the president the authority to go to war and then wouldn't provide the body armor and the other things that were necessary to equip the...
COLMES: The argument was how the money would be paid for. That was the argument. Not that they didn't want to pay for it, but how it would be paid for.
MCCONNELL: Most Americans would feel that, no matter how you felt about the initial decision to go to war, you ought to pay for it once the decision was made, particularly when most of this money was related to equipping our troops.
You know, that's-I think that's a very legitimate...
COLMES: Senator Nelson, I keep hearing Republicans say...
MCCONNELL: ... war on terror is one of the biggest issues confronting the country.
COLMES: Senator Nelson, I keep hearing Republicans say that some liberals and Kerry and Edwards didn't want to pay for it. That's not true, is it?
NELSON: No, I think that it's a question of how much the war is going to cost. And a lot of people are concerned about that, have raised a lot of questions about it and how the money is spent.
But there were some other considerations there, as well. Part of it was, I think, the funding for construction and reconstruction, whether it ought to all be a grant or whether some of it ought to be considered a loan, forgivable through a grant if the other countries around the world would forgive part of their-their pre-war Saddam debt.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Senator Nelson, welcome to the program.
MCCONNELL: You voted for the Bill, didn't you, Ben?
NELSON: Well, yes, I understand...
MCCONNELL: But Ben, you voted...
NELSON: ... but there were some other people...
HANNITY: All right, Senator Nelson, let me ask you a question.
NELSON: ... who have some concerns about that.
HANNITY: John Kerry keeps saying about John Edwards that he's a leader. Since he joined the Senate in 1999, 74 bills which he was the lead sponsor on emerged from committee, and none of which got a floor vote.
He has not one piece of legislation we could find where Edwards has been the lead sponsor that became law. Not one single solitary piece of legislation.
How do you say he's a leader with that type of record?
NELSON: Is that question to me?
HANNITY: That would be to you, Senator.
NELSON: Well,, I do know that-yes, thank you. The-he was a leader on the McCain-Kennedy-Edwards Patients' Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, it didn't get passed over on the House side. So, if you can't get something passed on the House side, it doesn't mean you're not a leader.
But he certainly led on that, because I had some involvement in that. So, I think it's a question sometimes of whether the House passes companion legislation, whether it gets out of conference committee...
HANNITY: All right.
NELSON: ... issues like that.
HANNITY: Let's go to the war and...
MCCONNELL: Sean, could I answer your question?
HANNITY: Go ahead, Senator McConnell?
MCCONNELL: Sean, could I answer your question?
HANNITY: You go right ahead.
MCCONNELL: I think the answer is that John Edwards has left more footprints on the beaches of North Carolina than he's left here in the Senate.
HANNITY: That's a good answer. I think that's going to be the quote of the day.
Let me go to the words of John Kerry, Senator Nelson, talking about John Edwards. This is what he says: "I think the American people want an experienced hand at the helm of state. This is not a time for on-the-job training at the White House on national security issues."
And he also went on to say, "In the Senate four years-and that is the full extent of public life-no international experience," for Edwards, "no military experience," and, "you can imagine what the advertising is going to be next year. When I came back from Vietnam in 1969, I don't even know if John Edwards was out of diapers then."
NELSON: Well, quite honestly on the experience issue, I remember in 1990 when I wanted to run for governor, my opponent said I had no experience. And then, six years later when I wanted to run for the Senate, they said I had so much experience and did such a good job...
HANNITY: You didn't answer the question, though. But wait, John Kerry said that about the man he chose. Look, one of the criticisms of John Kerry is he flip-flops. So, is it-can we accept that as another flip-flop for John Kerry?
NELSON: I think a lot of things are said in primary contests, intersectional contests, and the-as they get through the contest later, they know each other better.
So, this is...
HANNITY: All right. Senator McConnell, let's put up the Democrats...
NELSON: ... this is not unique to Democrats. Republicans do it as well.
HANNITY: Let's put up "The Boston Herald" again, and it says "Left of Ted" Kennedy.
Now, the liberal group, the liberal Americans for Democratic Action, what they've been doing over the years is they-they rate the voting records. This is where these guys vote over the years.
And what they have discovered is, is that Kerry/Edwards is even more liberal than Mondale/Ferraro, the most liberal ticket that we have seen-more liberal than if it was Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton-the most liberal ticket that we have in modern history.
Will this resonate in any of these red states from the year 2000?
NELSON: I think it will resonate...
HANNITY: Senator McConnell?
NELSON: Go ahead, Mitch.
MCCONNELL: I think they ought to take up the challenge that Alan Colmes always suggests, which is that they ought to be proud of the label, run on the label.
Ben says labels don't make any difference. If they don't make any difference, then why don't they use the label and proudly present themselves to the American people...
COLMES: All right. Senator, we're going to...
MCCONNELL: ... as the most liberal ticket?
COLMES: Because people don't vote on the basis of labels. We've got to take a break. We'll pick it up right there.
Still to come: Does John Kerry have a deep dark secret that's going to come back and haunt him in October? You'll hear from the reporters who know him better than anybody else.
Later: He was forced to drop out of the Senate campaign because of his own deep dark secrets. But is Jack Ryan really finished? Sean asked him, and his answer will surprise you.
We'll also have the latest developments on the Peterson trial. Everyone's still reeling from yesterday's graphic photos of Connor Peterson. Coming up.