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Frank Luntz, Dick Morris On Dem Debate

Hannity & Colmes

FRANK LUNTZ, AUTHOR, "WORDS THAT WORK": Hi, it's my pleasure. And, gentlemen, we saw something really interesting tonight. I want to take it right to the voters.

By a show of hands, how many of you walked in here supporting Hillary Clinton as your first choice for president? Raise your hands, raise them high. You all were first-choice Hillary voters. How many of you thought she won the debate? Look at what happened, Sean.

Now, how many of you walked in here picking Obama as your first choice, only your first choice? Now, how many of you thought Obama won the debate, raise your hands? Check this out. What is it about Barack Obama's performance today, anybody?

Ryan, we'll start with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack, his opinions were right on. He answered the question. He didn't change or modify his answers according to what his preplan was for the debate. Other people seemed to can themselves and pose themselves. He was genuine. He had specifics.

LUNTZ: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that he was definitely on the mark. He was believable. He answered the questions. He stuck to a plan, and he made you feel like he could succeed as president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe he was very knowledgeable, and I really liked the way he answered all of the questions. Although he hasn't been in the -- he's not been a senator that long, he really does know what's going on in Washington.

LUNTZ: Now, Nancy, you're one of the oldest people. James, you're one of the youngest people in this group. Who won your heart?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama did, definitely. I thought he shared how he's a unifier, and the way he was so charismatic, it just kind of -- I wasn't alive when JFK was around, but the speeches that I've heard of him inspiring people, I can see how he can inspire our nation.

LUNTZ: Now, you guys are all talking about personality rather than issues. Why is that? Why is it Obama's personality that is so strong for you all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Politics. We need somebody that's going to inject some enthusiasm into this country. We know that politics happens up there behind closed doors most of the time, but if you get somebody that's sincere and will stand behind issues...

LUNTZ: Why not Hillary?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not Hillary? I think that -- I don't think that her heart is really where it needs to be for the middle class.

LUNTZ: Lawanda?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why not Hillary?

LUNTZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary is not as motivating as Obama was. I mean, Obama made you feel like he understood the problems, the struggles, and he truly wanted to change. Hillary is just kind of going with the flow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I completely agree. To me, Hillary just was reading off of a sheet the entire time. She would manipulate her answer to whatever she thought the question was going to be and not what the question really was.

LUNTZ: Now, up to this point, we've done these sessions up to this point, and Obama has not done all that well, and Hillary Clinton has. Is there something about their performance tonight that particularly stood out to you? Diane, I know that you thought Hillary did better. Explain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I don't know that I'm going to vote for Hillary or anybody else at this point. I can't make up my mind. But I felt Hillary is -- she's a statesman, stateswoman. She's presidential.

LUNTZ: And you didn't find Obama to be that way?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. It's all about personality and charisma, I thought.

LUNTZ: Nathan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought Obama was truly speaking from the heart. And even his facial expressions seemed like, you know, he was really sincere about what he was saying. And I believe he's all across the board for the everyday people.

LUNTZ: Amy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe Obama came across as being very trustworthy. And right now, I think that's what the American people need. I think we need a president that we can stand behind and that we feel like we can trust.

LUNTZ: Now, let me ask you as a group. Which one seemed more like they understood people's concerns?

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Obama.

LUNTZ: Obama?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, Hillary, it seemed to me that Hillary is running for Hillary. Barack Obama is running for the people. That's what I heard tonight.

LUNTZ: But more of you came into this room supporting Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But don't we need that type of charismatic person to make those connections with foreign nations? We need someone who is believable, someone who's trustworthy, and someone who wants to create peace.

LUNTZ: And who is that person?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama.

LUNTZ: Interesting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Hillary has skills, knowledge. She's been around a long time. I think she has a lot to bring to the plate, but I think tonight Obama was really on target. And he convinced and pulled in, I think, those of us that were sitting here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think tonight's election shared how electable he could be, because a lot of y'all came in thinking Hillary was going to be it, and he was able to change your minds. So I think it really showed the potential that he has to be our leader.

LUNTZ: Now, did anyone actually change their preference? Did people change their preference here? You did. You actually changed your preference?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

LUNTZ: What specifically, Cindy, caused you to do that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He makes me feel comfortable. I feel I can trust him. He's very confident. He's thorough in his answers.

LUNTZ: And who were you supporting before you walked in here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary.

LUNTZ: Did she disappoint you, or did Obama do so well?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, he was far better, far better.

LUNTZ: Amy, you switched your vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I switched my vote, but honestly I would love to see the two of them pair up. I think they would be unbeatable.

(CROSSTALK)

LUNTZ: That's what you want, you want an Obama-Clinton ticket? These guys are great. You guys back in New York, do you want to ask them any questions?

HANNITY: Yes, Frank, by the way, it's Sean. Can you hear me OK?

LUNTZ: I hear you perfectly.

HANNITY: All right, I love the honesty of everybody in the room, Frank. I only wish they were Republican, if you could pass that message onto everybody. When they say "team up," is there one person they prefer at the top of the ticket versus the other?

LUNTZ: OK. If there's a team of Clinton-Obama, how many of you in this room want Clinton on top? Raise your hands. How many want Obama on top? This is what is remarkable. And, by the way, Sean, one of the things that stood out, I asked them all, how many of you like this YouTube format, where you have real people asking questions? How many of you, by show of hands, prefer the YouTube format? Look at this. They want real people talking on the real issues. It was a very interesting evening tonight.

HANNITY: Wow, very impressive. Now, I'll tell you what, now, Frank, you're putting together the dial positions to specific answers that the candidates gave. So little bit later in the show, we'll put in the final touches on this. We're going to go back to Frank Luntz and see during specific answers how our focus group reacted to the words of the candidates. We'll more from Frank Luntz coming up in just a minute.

And it was a night the Democratic candidates met YouTube. We're going to talk to Dick Morris, and we'll see if he thinks there was an online connection and what he thinks of Frank's results.

And he's accused of raping a 7-year-old girl, but this man will not see prison time. He won't even see anymore court time. His case was dismissed. We're going to tell you about this tragedy, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." The Democratic presidential candidates just finished their first YouTube debate. And here with reaction, the author of "Outrage" -- bestseller -- former Clinton adviser Dick Morris. By the way, you can view Dick's latest columns at DickMorris.com.

Bestseller, because it's fair and balanced. Anyway...

DICK MORRIS, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Yes, it is, it hates both parties equally.

COLMES: ... let me ask you about this debate and this format. Let's just talk about the format for a second. Who got to choose the questions, if it's a cable network that chooses it, versus the people who voted for it on YouTube or the ones that got the most views on YouTube? Who gets to be the arbiter here?

MORRIS: I thought the format was really good, and I thought that CNN has at least solved its big problem, which is really boring anchors.

COLMES: That's very interesting. But, again, should it be the most viewed on YouTube versus CNN's saying...

MORRIS: No, I thought they were very good questions.

COLMES: I thought they were very good questions, too.

MORRIS: But I think that the really significant thing about this debate is that I think Obama really got his act together. And I think that what's going on here isn't that Hillary was a lot worse than she's ever been or that Obama was a lot better than he's ever been. It's that the effect of seeing a woman holding her own, addressing issues, being articulate, what Hillary calls in her memoir "the talking dog syndrome," which is it isn't that the dog talks well, it's that the dog talks at all, that that is now wearing off.

And Obama, who's an ingenue, is finally learning how to use a debate to project issues. When he turned to her and said, "I'm the only candidate not taking special interest money," or when he was aggressive with her in confronting her on the special interests in the health care industry, when you have Michael Moore's movie on that, I thought that that was excellent. I think he's finally learning to get his act together.

COLMES: What about Carl Cameron's interesting point, which is that, when asked about meeting with foreign dictators, and Hillary Clinton said, "I'm going to wait and see, I'm not going to offer that carrot up front," and Obama says, "Yes, sure, I'll do it in the first year," does that show greater sophistication on the part of Hillary Clinton than Barack Obama?

MORRIS: No, it showed greater smarts on behalf of Barack Obama, because all the insiders in Washington say, "Oh, that was a faux pas. You've got to feel them out first. We know that." But all the people in America say, "Hey, what's the matter with sitting down with the guy?"

COLMES: And, by the way, we're sitting down with Iran today in Baghdad.

MORRIS: Yes, sit down and talk to them. Now, I don't personally think we should, because I think that we should isolate Iran. But I think that Obama was very effective. And I think Hillary has just been inside for too long, and Obama really showed that he was an outsider.

HANNITY: Hey, Dick, you love polls and focus groups. I was very, very impressed with Frank's focus group there, with their honesty, but all the people that went in initially supporting Hillary, Obama turned the room around.

MORRIS: You know what really got to me when I watched that? Here he's got a focus group with a bunch of many white people from South Carolina, and they're saying that Obama did better. Thank God, boy, has America changed.

HANNITY: Do you think this can actually have an impact...

MORRIS: God bless this country.

HANNITY: Can he take the nomination from her now?

MORRIS: I think that it's just one debate, but I think that, if Obama learns to shape issues -- look, there's a huge difference between them. She takes special interests, political PAC contributions. He's raised his money from 268,000 small contributions online. Eighty percent of Hillary's money comes in large contributions; Obama gets a majority of his in small contributions. He could make that issue. And then when he came out and he said, when Hillary gave that pre-canned line about how I asked the Defense Department for their plans to withdrawal, and Obama said, "Well, you should have asked them before you voted for the war," that was pretty cool, I thought.

HANNITY: We're going to go back to Frank, because we're putting the dials together, and that is, as the specific answers were coming in, the focus group literally was judging what they were saying. But on those -- he turned to her on two specific occasions, and I thought those were the most effective moments for him. Do you agree?

MORRIS: They were wonderful. Yes, it's fascinating, because in Luntz's previous focus groups, he said that nobody liked it when you attacked a fellow Democrat and you fell. And that had a paralyzing effect on the insurgent candidates, the challenging candidates, because that became the conventional wisdom. In this debate, Obama learned how to get away with attacking Hillary and doing it in a way where it's a sufficiently glancing and positive blow, a statement of his own position.

HANNITY: But not perceived as mean.

MORRIS: So it's not perceived as negative, and it works with the focus groups.

HANNITY: One of the things overwhelmingly in that room with Frank, people want them to team up. Now, I have thought for the longest time that that will ultimately happen.

MORRIS: I think it has to happen. But, you know, if I were running the Obama campaign, I would have had Hillary stand in for Hillary and Obama, and I would test in front of focus groups 20 different ways of attacking Hillary and seeing what's the one that works the best with the focus groups, and then have him do it. And I'll bet that's what David Axelrod, who is the media guy for Obama, did.

COLMES: We're going to pick it up here with Dick Morris. More with Dick right after the break. Plus, we're going to go back to Charleston, South Carolina, and get more reaction from the voters themselves.

And coming up, the suspected child rapist is set free by a Maryland judge because the court was unable to find him a translator. Plus, a veteran NBA ref under investigation for betting on games he actually officiated at. The FBI is involved, and the NBA is under fire. We're going to sort through that scandal, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: And we continue now with Dick Morris.

All right, if you're a Republican, if you're Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and you're watching the debate, what do you get out of this in terms of strategic planning?

MORRIS: I say that there was a six-letter word that was not mentioned: terror. I didn't hear that word once in the entire debate. They talked about Iraq. They talked about gay marriage. They talked about everything, but nobody mentioned the Patriot Act, nobody mentioned wiretapping. We're sitting here two weeks after the city of London was almost blown up, and nobody mentions the word "terror." That's what I'd take out of it.

HANNITY: That's a great point. By the way, I think my favorite moment in the debate was when they were asked the question, how many of you flew here on a private jet, when they're talking about global warming?

MORRIS: That's right. But, you know, the other thing that needed to happen, I almost ripped the TV set apart when Anderson Cooper had that question about No Child Left Behind act, and he doesn't ask Hillary. It's her bill. The No Child Left Behind act is essentially Hillary's Arkansas program applied to the nation. And I was just dying to see if Hillary would pander the audience and say it shouldn't be renewed.

HANNITY: Let me ask this. They've now had a couple of these Democratic debates. What questions haven't been asked that need to be asked, in terms of what the American voters need to learn about these candidates?

MORRIS: Mrs. Clinton, you have proposed having troops stay in Iraq to man the border, hunt out Al Qaeda, and provide logistical intelligence, air and training support to the Iraqi army. How many troops will that take, and how long will you keep them there? That's one question.

Second question would be, Mrs. Clinton, when your husband ran for president, he refused to take special interest political action committee money. Senator Obama, for example, is hewing to your husband's policy. Why are you differing from your husband's policy and taking that money?

HANNITY: I think you've got a journalistic future here, Dick.

MORRIS: And, you know, I think there's one other thing. In baseball, when you see a pitcher for the second time, you finally learn how to hit him. I think that people are now seeing Hillary for the second and third time and they're seeing that -- if she says one more time, "I fought for health care, and I have the scars to prove it," she says that every debate. "I can hit the ground running." She says that every time she opens her mouth. People are getting tired of that.

COLMES: You're upset, or upset is the wrong word, but you point out that there's not a lot of talk in this debate about terror as it relates to what happened on 9/11, which changed the world, but wasn't this really a YouTube-directed debate? This is what people are asking about. The things people are asking aren't the Patriot Act. They want to know about Iraq, they want to know about health care, they want to know about the economy, they want to know about ecology, education, and this is what people ask about.

MORRIS: I would seriously doubt that, even with a Democratic audience, you didn't get a single question on terror. I would somehow doubt that. I see the fine hand of the edit...

COLMES: This is the YouTube audience that asked the question.

MORRIS: Yes, I know. By the way, I just want to mention, I know you're talking about the debate, but my wife and I have a column in the "New York Post" today -- you can get it online at DickMorris.com -- that talks about Fred Thompson's son having a no-show job at his political action committee for which he was paid $175,000. And that's a real bombshell, and it's the same stuff we write about in "Outrage."

COLMES: That's a good point.

MORRIS: And it is an outrage.

COLMES: We didn't talk about other candidates. Everybody is focused on Hillary and Obama tonight. What does this say about John Edwards, who was for a long time considered a top tier candidate?

MORRIS: I think Edwards -- people are just seeing the snake oil salesman. I mean, that's why they're...

COLMES: Why would you call him a snake oil salesman?

MORRIS: Well, he was a trial lawyer. He's coming onto the jury. He talks about...

COLMES: He took individual cases, not group cases.

MORRIS: Yes, but he took a third of the fee. He talks about poverty, and he has a house that you can't find your way around. He talks about...

COLMES: Wait a minute. Since when do Republicans not like people who have money and are wealthy and live well?

MORRIS: You asked about Democrats. You asked about Democrats.

COLMES: Go ahead.

MORRIS: Come on, he attacks hedge funds, and he works for one. He ran in 2000, and poverty wasn't his issue. Now, in '04 it is.

COLMES: Sure it was his issue. It was his issue...

(CROSSTALK)

MORRIS: In '04, he was a moderate. Now he's a leftist. The guy who I think is just incredible in these debates -- and I love him -- is Joe Biden. When he got up there and he said, "Why did you vote to make these poor troops not have a v-shaped thing under their vehicles so the IEDs don't kill them"...

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: Could he be a president?

MORRIS: Well, yes, he could, but basically what's going to happen here is that Hillary, if she's the nominee, is going to have to put Obama on the ticket, because the black community will demand it.

HANNITY: I thought that was Biden's best answer, by the way, about the -- you know, saying...

MORRIS: His Darfur answer was terrific. Yes, send 2,500 American troops. These kids will be dead by the time diplomacy works.

HANNITY: Now, when we come back, we have the dials, the actual answers of the candidates, and we'll see how people were reacting as the candidates were speaking.

And also coming up tonight, he was accused of raping a 7-year-old girl. But tonight, this sexual predator is a free man. Why did a judge let him walk? That answer, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

COLMES: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." We take you back now to Charleston, South Carolina. Frank Luntz standing by with a look at some real time reaction from voters who were switching tonight's YouTube Democratic presidential debate.

Frank, what is the switching and dial position stuff all about?

LUNTZ: What happened tonight is that we took a group of 30 South Carolina Democrats and they watched the entire two hours. They came in here supporting Hillary Clinton, a plurality did, and they left here supporting Barack Obama.

What I'm going to show you now are some of the dial results, how they responded on a second-by-second basis to what they saw. They use these dials about the size of a remote control. The higher you see these lines go, the more favorable the response is.

Red line represents moderates. This yellow line represents liberals. Watch what happens when Barack Obama begins to communicate a response to the question of reparations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the reparations we need right here in South Carolina is investment, for example, in our schools.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I did a -- I did a town hall meeting in Florence, South Carolina. In an area called the "Corridor of Shame." They have got buildings that students are trying to learn in that were built right after the Civil War. And, we have got teachers who are not trained to teach the subjects they are teaching in, high dropout rates. We have got to understand that there are corridors of shame all across the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUNTZ: That concept, the "corridors of shame all across the country," he took a very tough question and talked aspirationally and that phrase, corridors of shame, I'm paying attention to what the candidates have to say, that phrase is something that I think you are going to hear a lot from Obama coming forward.

COLMES: Something else, Frank, was the issue of him being African- American that came up tonight and he dealt with that as well.

LUNTZ: It was a very tough question. It's one that the people thought -- they didn't know how he was going to answer it, but as you are about to see, he hit this one out of the park. And he used both humor and pathos. Let's take a look, and again, watch how high the lines go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When I'm catching a cab in Manhattan, in the past I think have given my credentials.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: But let me go to the broader issue here, and that is that race permeates our society. It is still a critical problem. But I do believe in the core decency of the American people. And I think they want to get beyond some of our racial divisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUNTZ: Awesome. They want to get beyond some of our racial divisions. Here is someone who could be -- and South Carolina has got a significant black population. It represents anywhere from a third to over 40 percent of the Democratic primary vote and he reached out and he did it effectively. The African-American voter appreciated it without turning off the white vote. This is someone who has really got the message down quite well.

HANNITY: Hey, Frank, there were two moments in the debate where he directly confronted Hillary Clinton and he gave a very different answer on the war and you have a clip of that as it relates more specifically to the troops.

LUNTZ: This is, to me, the most important part of the debate. And I was watching it and when he mentioned Hillary Clinton's name, I was expecting the lines to go down because the one thing the Democrats have told us, don't attack another Democrat. There is an 11th commandment out there. And, yet, he challenged her.

And watch how high the lines are going to go when he differentiated his position from Senator Clinton's position.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The time for us to ask how we were going to get out of Iraq was before we went in.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And that is something that too many of us failed to do. We failed to do it and I do think that that is something that both Republicans and Democrats have to take responsibility for.

When I am president of the United States, when I send our troops into battle, I'm going to be absolutely sure that it's based on sound intelligence and I'm going to tell the truth to the American people as well as the families who are being asked to sacrifice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUNTZ: He is off the charts. I mean, this is as high as it can go. He is explicit. He has drawn the contrast. He has hit a home run. What I would like to do is I want to play for you the sound of what they had to say about Barack Obama so you can really understand, it's not that he is a good politician and it's not his experience. It's as much his presentation and more importantly it's that he seems to represent people rather than politics.

If you guys back there can roll the sound, this is why Obama will be shown as the winner of tonight's debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he is the complete opposite of what we have had in office for the last really two decades. And that's what we are yearning for right now is a change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I'm just always impressed to see him -- he doesn't look for words. He brings it right out. And he talks about the right thing for me as a senior citizen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is not your typical politician. He is more of an outsider. He hasn't been around as long as everyone else. He hasn't been tainted necessarily.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is very charismatic and appears very personable. And so it draws people to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way he speaks, he speaks with passion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think people want to follow that passion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, he is believable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Hey, Frank.

LUNTZ: And you notice.

HANNITY: Go ahead.

LUNTZ: You notice that it's not about issues. It's actually not about substance. It is about style. But I have got to tell you something, what the Democrats have been saying nationwide is, we want somebody who is listening to us. We are tired of Washington, we are tired of the president. We want someone who understands us, who empathizes with us, that they can communicate to us. And we want someone who breaks the partisan boundaries. That is why Obama did so well today.

HANNITY: You know, first of all, I want to remind our viewers here these were all Democrats looking at Democratic candidates here in your focus group. And by the way, I was very impressed with them and very impressed with their honesty here. And two other things, they seem to unanimously want Hillary and Barack Obama to unite.

What was the reaction to the other candidates tonight?

LUNTZ: The one who did the best among the second tier was clearly Senator Joe Biden. They appreciated his directness on Iraq. And in fact, what was interesting is that they responded so favorably to Obama's style but they responded almost as favorably to Biden's substance.

HANNITY: What about Edwards?

LUNTZ: Edwards did not do as well. And while he had some very good sound bites, he really didn't score with the passion and they felt that he didn't quite hit the same level of relateability that Obama presented. It was a good night for Joe Biden and good night for Senator Obama.


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