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Luntz Focus Group on Last Night's Debate

Hannity & Colmes

HANNITY: Now the remaining Republican candidates debated in California tonight. Our own Frank Luntz takes their message to the people. And he also has a very special guest with him.

Is that right, actor John Cleese is with you?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Renaissance man, comedian John Cleese is with me. We're going to ask him in a moment how he compares British politics...

HANNITY: Well, wait a minute. You've got to tell him something. There's no bigger "Fawlty Towers" fan than me.

LUNTZ: Sean Hannity says there's no bigger "Fawlty Towers" fan than him.

JOHN CLEESE, ACTOR: That's really nice. Thank you, Mr. Hannity.

LUNTZ: And I've never seen Sean Hannity actually be that obsequious to a guest like that before.

CLEESE: I hope you continue to crawl. We're going to get on very well.

LUNTZ: Yes.

HANNITY: I actually -- tell him, Frank, I have the whole series, literally, on tape at home. I have the whole thing.

LUNTZ: Sean says that he's got the entire series.

CLEESE: Thank you, thank. What about the other one? What's his name?

LUNTZ: And...

HANNITY: What's the other guy's name?

LUNTZ: Alan Colmes.

COLMES: People have been asking that for years.

LUNTZ: I've got -- guys, I've got a job to do here. What I was asking you -- first off, who won the debate tonight? I always begin that way. Who says John McCain won the debate? Raise your hands. Three, only four of you.

Who says Mitt Romney? About half of you.

Who says Mike Huckabee? Almost half.

Ron Paul?

Now, I asked the question what you thought of the debate tonight. How many of you were satisfied with the tone of the questions? Raise your hands. Look at this. Not a single hand went up.

What was your complaint about the debate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really felt that CNN and the L.A. Times are really hostile territory for Republicans, and that's why I thought that even the -- I thought that McCain actually won the debate in some ways, because McCain really showed himself very presidential in that very hostile environment.

LUNTZ: Your reaction to the questions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the questions were the most insipid questions possible. Who cares who Ronald Reagan would have endorsed? And who cared about the last eight years? None of those people running now have anything to do with the last eight years.

LUNTZ: How about the tone between the candidates?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Entirely too much sniping between McCain and Romney, and Ron Paul was absolutely marginalized. I really wanted to hear more from him.

LUNTZ: How many of you would have preferred just a two-person debate between Romney and McCain? Raise your hands? How many want all four candidates included? All three.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without Ron Paul.

LUNTZ: Your reaction to the debate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will say, I learned more about Huckabee. And I almost felt like I was tranced [SIC] or something, because I hated him coming in, and I think he's viable.

LUNTZ: You switched your point of view, Mike.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I was very undecided after all the people who have dropped out in this past. I very much feel that Romney is the guy that he can get the job done. I really liked how he talked about his policies and his experience tonight in a much stronger and with more emphasis than he ever has before.

LUNTZ: And you also switched?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was with McCain, and as much as I appreciate the tribute he did with our military, it's a very one-noted, every answer in that way. So I went, actually, with Huckabee. And I felt he had a grasp on the people.

LUNTZ: Did any of you have a problem with how the back and forth between McCain and Huckabee? Was that OK with you or not? Was it OK or not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

LUNTZ: How many of you had a -- raise your hands if you really didn't like watching the two of them. What's the problem with that? I mean, they disagree. Isn't that OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, unfortunately, what it does is it detracts from the issue, which the issue is unity, and clearly, there's no unity.

LUNTZ: Chris (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were a lot of cheap shots taken. Mostly by McCain, but some on both sides. But cheap shots.

LUNTZ: John, I want to bring you in here. You've got the British experience, but you've been living in America for a while now. Let me ask you, as you watch this debate, and you saw the lines going up and down, and we're going to be showing "Hannity & Colmes" viewers tomorrow the top lines and the ones that failed. Is British politics more substantial than American politics?

CLEESE: No. No, not at all. I thought this was a very, very interesting debate. And I think that it's great that you have so many of them, because you really begin to get a feeling for the candidates after you see them a lot of times. I think this is a really great process.

LUNTZ: What about the advertising? We were talking about...

CLEESE: Really, I mean, you won't believe this. There's no paid political advertising on British television. We don't have those 30-second things. They...

LUNTZ: Would you like that, by the way, to cut out all the ads?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

LUNTZ: No?

CLEESE: It means that everything's got to be condensed into 30 seconds, and that means that it's just sound bites, so that nothing substantial -- you just sort of put across a slur or, "Mmm, I like that person," or (RASPBERRY SOUND) "I don't." That's about it.

COLMES: Hey, Frank...

CLEESE: I love the fact that, when we have politics on British television, it's paid for by the television companies.

LUNTZ: And that's got to be the last word.


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