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Hannity & Colmes

HANNITY: Governor Mike Huckabee went from an afterthought to possible front-runner for the GOP nomination, but now the Huck-a-boom is taking a hit as the negative attacks on his record pile up.

Now Gallup's Frank Newport reports and writes the following: "The Huckabee boomlet, so to speak, has to some degree apparently leveled off. Huckabee's image has actually become a little more negative over the last two weeks. His favorable number gained only 1 point from early December to this past weekend. His unfavorable number went up by 6 points. And his share of the GOP vote stayed exactly the same, at 16 percent."

Joining us now Democratic strategist -- by the way, my buddy Peter Fenn is back. And also, pollsters Frank Luntz, and Scott Rasmussen is with us.

All right, Scott. Let's go to this. What does it mean? I anticipated this, asked you about this. I said Huckabee surges, negatives come in, polls are coming down. Is it true?

SCOTT RASMUSSEN, RASMUSSEN REPORTS: We're seeing the same thing.


RASMUSSEN: In South Carolina a couple weeks ago we had Huckabee up by seven points over Romney and Thompson. Now Huckabee and Romney are tied. So he's lost his lead there. Same situation: his unfavorables are going up a little bit.

We're polling in New Hampshire tonight. We'll be releasing some Iowa data tomorrow. And I expect we'll see some of the same.

HANNITY: Boy, it keeps going back to this: this is a fluid race.

Frank Luntz, you pointed out one of the things that -- that caused this Huckabee surge is this likeability factor, great performance in debates, glibness, self-deprecation. Now he's getting a taste of what every other candidate has had. Does he sustain himself out of this?

LUNTZ: He is going through his gauntlet. This is his moment of negativity. They've all had it. It was on your show the first time that Huckabee performed well in the debates. Almost every debate he does well.

The problem for him is that there are no debates between now and Iowa, and there's only one debate before New Hampshire.

HANNITY: And he's going to be hit with a lot of negative ads. And he is.

LUNTZ: And he doesn't -- but I want to say one thing. If you ever trained (ph) -- if I said to you on this show four weeks ago Mike Huckabee would be at 16 percent, you would have said no way.

HANNITY: I saw the rise coming a little earlier. But it's good.

Now, I especially want our friend Peter Fenn to look at this. There's a strategy emerging for Hillary Clinton, and that's -- Peter, is to show the softer side. Let's go to the videotape.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is very exciting for me to have so many of my friends from my entire life who have come out here to talk with Iowans, to answer questions, to give you some insight and information about our relationships, about what I've been trying to do for my entire life.


HANNITY: Peter, I know you like her, but this is her problem. Everything is phony; it is poll-tested; it is triangulated; it is contrived. She now has her mother out there with an ad: "My daughter is wonderful."

I don't even believe it, Peter. And I don't even think Alan Colmes believes this.

COLMES: I loved what I just saw.

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Actually, I'm sure Alan believes it.

COLMES: Thank you, Peter.

FENN: Actually, you know, I think one of the strengths that Hillary exhibited in New York in her first race and in her second race was when she went to places where she was not supposed to really do well, like up in northern New York where she did her listening tour, where she sat down with people, and where she got to know people.

And one of the things -- when I talk -- and I haven't endorsed anybody in this race. I like them all. But you know, when I was talking to the Clinton people earlier in the year, I said, "Look, her strength is one-on- one. Her strength is sitting down in those diners. Her strength is in those living rooms."

COLMES: They don't want to admit that she's human.

FENN: Iowa is very tough.

COLMES: We move on.

Welcome back, Peter. Welcome back to the show.

FENN: ... get out there.

COLMES: Let me show -- speaking of contrived, let me pull out the latest Huck ad. And let's take a look at what looks to be a cross. He says it's a bookshelf. As we say at FOX News, you decide. Let's roll tape on that.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At this time of year sometimes it's nice to pull aside from all of that and just remember what really matters is a celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and our friends. I hope that you and your family will have a magnificent Christmas season.

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It reminds me of what Sinclair Lewis once said. He says when fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross. I don't know whether that's a fair assessment or not, but you wonder about using the cross, like he is the only Christian.


COLMES: And Frank Luntz, sorry. That was a bookshelf, but you can't tell me that every image in every ad isn't looked at and they -- everything is planned to the millisecond.

LUNTZ: Not...

COLMES: And they know exactly what image they're sending out with every pixel in an ad. Come on.

LUNTZ: If that was the case, then General Motors would not have created Nova as one of their cars, which is "no go" in Spanish, and tried to sell it in Mexico.

COLMES: He had no idea. No one vetted the ad. No one looked at this and said, "That looks like a cross." No one...

LUNTZ: The Huckabee campaign doesn't have the money to do ad testing.

COLMES: Look at it. Anybody can look at the ad and see it.

LUNTZ: The language that he used is the language of conservatives in Iowa. You've got to give him credit for using that language.

COLMES: I'm just talking about the symbolism. Scott, what do you say about this?

RASMUSSEN: This ad, the whole point of it, was to address the problem every one of these candidates faces. How do you get voters' attention during the Christmas season, when you have to be reaching out to them?


LUNTZ: Are you anti-Christian (ph), Alan?

COLMES: Yes, I'm not -- I won the war on Christmas. Thanks for asking.

LUNTZ: You should love that ad.

COLMES: All right. I'm sorry (ph). Let's put up the New York Post reporting -- I'm going to get a lot of bad e-mail because of you, Luntz.

LUNTZ: No, I'm going to get a lot of bad e-mail.

COLMES: The New York Post reporting that aides to New York's mayor -- I'm sorry. I skipped one. My fault. Let's go back one.

Poll numbers, in Florida, let's put that up. Giuliani lead shrinking, Hillary Rodham Clinton looking strong. GOP survey, USA, the whole country now. Giuliani 28, Huckabee 24, Romney 20, McCain 10.

On the Democratic side, it's Clinton 48, Obama 31, Edwards 6.

Peter Fenn, Hillary Clinton lead sustains on a national level. Much more shuffling on the Republican side.

FENN: A lot of shuffling on the Republican side, Alan. And you have to remember that poor Giuliani, when he was on "Meet the Press" a couple of weeks ago, kept talking about, "Well, look at the Florida numbers. Look at the Florida numbers." Oops, maybe we don't want to look at those Florida numbers.

I think Rudy, you know, look, he started artificially high. Hillary Clinton started artificially high. It starts evening out. It's coming down. But this race is -- Sean, this race is unbelievably fluid on both sides, in my opinion.

COLMES: All right. We're going to talk about Bloomberg, among other things, when we get back in just a moment with our all-star panel. More politics continues after the break.

And still to come, is a monkey smarter than a college student? A new study says yes. But only in one specific thing. We'll find out what it is, coming up on "Hannity & Colmes".


COLMES: In South Carolina yesterday, President Clinton said if Hillary wins the White House, she has big plans for him. He said, quote, "The first thing she intends to do is send me and former President Bush and a number of other people around the world to tell them that America is open for business and cooperation again."

We return now with our panel: Frank Luntz, Scott Rasmussen, Peter Fenn.

Scott, we could use a little diplomacy around the world after what's happened in the last seven or eight years. Bill Clinton would be very good person to do that. He'd make a great U.N. ambassador, wouldn't it?

RASMUSSEN: But his wasn't a very diplomatic thing to bring in the father of the current president to bash the current president's...

COLMES: Didn't they do the post-Katrina tour together?

RASMUSSEN: They did the post-Katrina tour, and I'm sure they would do all kinds of tours.

COLMES: And they did the post-Indonesia tsunami tour together. Frank Luntz, why would it be that hard to believe that they could -- they, in fact, have developed quite a close friendship, as I understand.

LUNTZ: Yes, and the former President Bush is not nearly as partisan as the former President Clinton.

It's interesting that they would try -- it's the same thing as Mark Penn saying that one-fourth of Republican women will vote for lever (ph). They will say whatever it takes to bring people to their side, and at least in three states...

COLMES: What candidate would ever do that?

LUNTZ: ... New Hampshire, South Carolina...

COLMES: Let me move on to Michael Bloomberg. New York Post, as I tried to get to a little earlier, mistakenly, says that aides to New York Mayor Bloomberg have been approaching campaign advisors about a possible run for president. And this is not the first time we've heard these rumors. Bloomberg keeps denying it.

Peter Fenn, that could really throw a wrench into the race for both the Republicans and Democrats, because Bloomberg, I think, isn't viewed as partisan either way.

FENN: No question about it, Alan. Look, any time that you have 21 percent of the American people who support the Congress of the United States, 28 percent of the people supporting the president of the United States, and two-thirds to three-quarters of the people thinking we're going in the wrong direction, if two people are nominated in this -- in this election cycle that the people aren't going for, a guy like Bloomberg is going to keep his options open.

COLMES: All right. One more quick item here. ABC is publishing a photo of Mitt Romney attending a 1994 Planned Parenthood fundraiser, even though Romney has previously said he had no recollection about the circumstances under which his wife gave money to the group.

Frank Luntz, is this another flip-flop for Mitt Romney, who seems to have very different stories about a whole number of issues? It's one more.

LUNTZ: This is one of those where I don't know how to evaluate it. I don't -- I don't have an answer.

HANNITY: All right, let's see if you can evaluate this. Mitt Romney was on "Meet the Press" over the weekend, got emotional when discussing the issue of race and his religion. He also got emotional again when talking about the troops. Let's roll that tape.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Then finally, the caskets started coming down that conveyor belt. And the soldiers that I was with stood at attention and saluted. And I put my hand on my heart, and tears begin to well in your eyes, as you can imagine in a circumstance like that.

I have five boys of my own. I imagine what it would be like to lose a son.


HANNITY: You know what? That's something. You talk about words that work. I mean, it seems real, sincere, powerful.

LUNTZ: It is real, sincere and powerful. I met his kids.


LUNTZ: They're very impressive young men.


LUNTZ: He's got a very strong family, and I think he's gotten an unfair rap over all the religion. But you know what? He should have said from the very beginning, "When you beat up on my faith, that's -- that in itself is racism. That's bigotry."

HANNITY: I think he has been the victim of unfair attacks on his religion, and I think a lot of it is rooted in bigotry. And I've been saying that all along.

All right. Let me put up one other thing. We've got big poll numbers in South Carolina today. And by the way, our good friend, Scott Rasmussen, this is his poll here. If we put it up on the screen, he has Hillary and Obama tied on the Democratic side.

Now, Scott, we've got Iowa. We've got polls showing a lead for Barack Obama. We've got New Hampshire leads for Barack Obama. South Carolina, leads for Barack Obama.

And one other point -- and you have, in a poll, and that is Hillary by more than 2:1 to her nearest opponent, the person that people would most likely want to vote against.

RASMUSSEN: And what you just said is this race is about Hillary Clinton. It is not about a choice between Hillary and Barack Obama; it is a question about Hillary Clinton right now.

It's very close in Iowa. New Hampshire is very close, as we just saw. South Carolina's tied. And people thought that Hillary was going to be the nominee, and now they're trying to evaluate.

HANNITY: Expand on this notion, though, that 40 percent of people want to vote against her, her unfavorables consistently at 50 percent. How does she overcome that in a general election? She needs Michael Bloomberg to draw Republicans to him.

RASMUSSEN: Yes, she needs somebody to draw some votes.

I mean, she also has a lot of people who love her. She has -- she will get 45 to 49 percent of the vote in a general election without a major third-party candidate. She needs somebody to siphon a few percentage points away.

HANNITY: All right, guys. I've got to tell you, it's 16 days. It doesn't get any more exciting. This is our Super Bowl, so we -- we're treating it that way.

By the way, Peter Fenn, I even said on the radio today that you would abandon us. Welcome back.

FENN: Thanks, Sean.

HANNITY: All right. We appreciate it.


HANNITY: We appreciate your time.

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