News & Election Videos
Election 2008 Obama vs. McCain | Clinton vs. McCain | Latest 2008 Polls | Latest 2008 News

SEND TO A FRIEND | PRINT ARTICLE |

Mitt Romney on "Hannity & Colmes"

Hannity & Colmes


HANNITY: Welcome to HANNITY AND COLMES. We're glad you're with us. I'm Sean Hannity. Super Tuesday is just five short days away and the clock is ticking to the biggest political show-down in recent memory. On the Republican side, John McCain and Mitt Romney continue to trade attacks after last night's debate in California, which might charitably be described as testy.

While on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue to position themselves to compete in as many states as possible in every corner of the country. And joining us right now is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Governor, welcome back.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Sean. Good to be with you.

HANNITY: We appreciate it. You said after Florida -- and it was a tight race in Florida, tight race. You said -- you talked about Washington being broken. And you said, if you want to change Washington, you can't change it by sending the same people back there, just sitting in different chairs. Clearly you were talking about Senator McCain?

ROMNEY: Well, Senator McCain, but also Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Look, Senator McCain has had 25 years in service in Washington. It's been a good long time. He hasn't solved the problem of illegal immigration. I don't think he's taken it on before, other than McCain- Kennedy, and that wasn't good.

He hasn't solved the problem of campaign finance. Actually, McCain- Feingold made things worse. As you deal with the challenges that America faces, you realize he's had a long time to deal with them, hasn't got the job done. Let's let someone else have a chance.

HANNITY: Full disclosure, governor, on my radio show we have a primary Tuesday in New York, and I said I would be voting for you in that. And this is after a long campaign of examining, but it goes to the heart of -- and I like Senator McCain personally, I really do. I love his life story. He's a war hero. But on substantive issues, governor, on immigration, on free speech with McCain-Feingold, on issues like tax cuts, the class warfare rhetoric -- he used it again with you last night -- Guantanamo, interrogations, drilling in Anwar. These are not small issues.

He continually and on a regular basis aligns himself to the left Democratic side of issues. Is that a fair characterization? Why do you think he's having so many problems with conservatives like myself?

ROMNEY: Well, I think you underscore the very reason, which is that while he is a national hero who served our country in time of war, and he's served in the Senate for 25 years, he has been a maverick in that he's gone against his own party on some very important issues. He said he voted against drilling in Anwar. He voted against the Bush tax cuts. He was one of only two Republicans to oppose the Bush tax cuts.

He also, as you indicated, authored this campaign finance bill, which has been devastating to our party. It took a big whack at the First Amendment. At the same time, he also authored McCain-Kennedy, which is an amnesty bill. The first version wasn't as bad as the last version, where all illegal aliens in the country get to stay here forever. And on "Meet The Press" over the weekend, he said he would sign that if he were president.

His postures are -- on those famous bills that he's known for -- are frankly not aligned with our party.

HANNITY: You said, governor, today that you could win a two-man race, if it was head to head. Governor Mike Huckabee similarly today, "The Hill" was reporting, that he said there's no way that he will drop out of this race here. Now, right now, I see that you're ahead in a number of states, for example, no surprise Utah, no surprise Massachusetts. Colorado, you're winning in that state by a pretty significant margin as well. But if Mike Huckabee stays in the race, do you feel he's splitting the conservative vote in the party?

ROMNEY: Well, he has every right to stay in the race just as I do. I'd never suggest he not stay in the race, but I think at this stage, given the success of the campaign to date, it's pretty clear that he's not been able to garner the support that he'd hoped to get. Look at a place like Florida. It's a southern state. Senator McCain and I were number one and number two. He beat me there, but not by a lot. But Mike Huckabee was number four.

He's going to keep going. There's no question but that his voters are voters that in large measure that would come to me. That's the way the cookie crumbles. I'm not going to cry about that and wish him well. But I think most people recognize that a vote for Mike Huckabee is a vote for John McCain, and if they want John McCain as their nominee, why, that's exactly what that vote would do.

ALAN COLMES, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Governor, it's Alan Colmes, welcome back to our show. Full disclosure, I'm voting in the Democratic primary on Tuesday.

HANNITY: For who?

COLMES: I don't know yet. I've not yet decided, believe it or not. I like them both. They're not that far apart on the issues. I want to know if I can have a yes or no answer on this question. Is John McCain a conservative?

ROMNEY: On some issues, yes, on other issues, no. And on some of the most important issues that our nation faces right now, he's not a conservative. And perhaps, more importantly, on many issues relating to the economy, he's really not somebody terribly well steeped in the economy. He himself has said that's not his strong suit, and if you're looking at a slowdown coming, and potentially an economic battle unlike anything we've ever faced before, you've got to have somebody who's had a job in the real economy to lead this country.

COLMES: You've said, as a matter of fact, that very thing. You said in Orlando -- you said I think it's helpful if you want to run the economy to have actually had a job in the private sector, you said, which I've had. Does that mean that Dwight Eisenhower would not be a good choice for president?

ROMNEY: No, it's saying that right now, given the circumstances in this country, and the need that we have to have a person who knows how we're going to stand up to China and India, Europe, Latin America, who knows how trade agreements affect industries here, an individual who knows how to fight for every god job, how to protect every industry with every ounce of his strength. That's what I do. That's what I know.

I used to get paid by companies to help them become stronger and more successful, and then I went into business of doing that my own. That kind of experience is kind of unusual, and I think highly valuable at a time like this.

COLMES: You said -- earlier today in an interview, you said there's a number of issues where I have a conservative view and others I have a more liberal view. On which issues, governor, do you have a more liberal view?

ROMNEY: I probably shouldn't have used the L word, if I did, but I apologize for that.

COLMES: It's a wonderful word. I welcome you to use it. Where would you fall in that category?

ROMNEY: I'd say that not all conserves line up with me on a few of the positions I have. For instance, I support having a Department of Education. I support No Child Left Behind. I think it's improving our schools. I agree that we need to give more flexibility to states in applying it, but I support it.

I also put in place a provision in Massachusetts that gets everybody health insurance. And I know some conservatives have heartburn over that. I think it's the ultimate conservative plan, because it says people who can afford to care for themselves and buy insurance, they should either do that or pay their own way, but don't --

COLMES: I want to know where the liberal positions are. There are some areas where you said you are liberal.

ROMNEY: I'm having out a hard time picking out what's described as liberal because I'm not liberal. But I can tell you two things that obviously are not as conservative as the Cato Institute are my views with regard to education and also health care.

COLMES: You said to the "San Francisco Chronicle" last year -- you said, I don't believe we're going to be rounding up 12 or 20 million people and deporting them. I do believe we need to have the people who are here as aliens register so we now how many there are. Now, recently you've been saying and you said to Politico.com, illegal immigrants who arrived recently should be deported, and that you would then follow that by getting the others out of the country.

Now that seems like now you're saying get them all out, but at one point you were saying they're here; they're probably going to stay here, let's find a way to make that work. So I'm confused about what the true position is.

ROMNEY: Pretty simple, which is you're not going to know which people are going to stay and how long until they've all been registered, they've all come in and you know who they are. So that's necessary to begin our program. And in my view, the first thing you have to do with those that are here illegally is find out how many there are, where they are, what their circumstances are. Those that have just been here for a month or two ought to go home right away. Those that have been here for a long period of time, have children in school, I'd let them stay longer, until they're able to arrange their affairs, perhaps sell a home or something of that nature, and then ultimately return home.

The problem I had with McCain-Kennedy was that that bill said that every illegal alien, 12 million illegal aliens, other than those who have committed crimes, all get to stay here forever if they pay 3,000 bucks. And that simply makes no sense.

COLMES: We'll pick up with Mitt Romney in just a moment after the break. More to come tonight. Also Newt Gingrich will be here along with his analysis. And not all conservatives are jumping on the McCain bandwagon. Ann Coulter explains why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: That's not what I said.

MCCAIN: The quote is, "we don't want them to lay in the weeds until we leave." That is the actual quote, and I'm sure fact checkers --

ROMNEY: What does that mean.

MCCAIN: It means a time table until we leave.

ROMNEY: Senator --

(CROSS TALK)

ROMNEY: Is it not fair to have the person who's being accused of having a position he doesn't have be the expert on what his position is? How is it that you're the expert on my position when my position has been very clear?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLMES: One of the more heated exchanges between the top two Republican presidential candidates, Governor Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain in last night's debate. We continue with Governor Mitt Romney. How peeved are you at John McCain?

ROMNEY: Well, it's sort of Washington politics at its normal level, which is attack the other party at the very last minute; after having had 15 debates, drop something in Florida that's absolutely untrue, has been seen by "Time Magazine," the "New York Times," the "Washington Post," Bill Bennett -- all the people looked at it and said McCain is not telling the truth here. He knows he's not telling the truth, but it scored him some points. It's the old Nixonian kind of approach, which I think is unfair.

COLMES: Tell me if I understand this correctly. We've talked about it on this show. I've talked about it on my radio show. You said to Robin Roberts that we have to have a series of time tables and milestones, but they shouldn't be for public pronouncement. It sounds to me like you want time tables. You just don't want to make them public?

ROMNEY: Time tables with an S at the end, Alan, and benchmarks and milestones. What's that's talking about is saying how much progress are we making toward getting police trained? How many areas are under control? What progress has happened with the parliament, with regards to the de- Baathification? There's a whole series of things that have to happen, and the president has done that.

We do have a series of time tables and milestones. But to say that I have a date specific for withdrawing troops is, frankly, totally wrong. Senator McCain knows that. In this debates, I've been asked time and again when I'd withdraw, and I said not until we're sure that al Qaeda is not going to make a safe haven out of Iraq.

COLMES: You're upset with him. You think he's misrepresenting you. He's been upset with you. He's upset with you because he claims you put out an ad in New Hampshire saying that he would let every illegal immigrant stay here permanently and even let them have Social Security, when actually the McCain bill was they have to go back to their country first and you only get Social Security after you become a citizen of the United States. So he said you played dirty politics by misrepresenting his position in ads you paid for and took out.

ROMNEY: Well, let's talk about the facts. McCain-Kennedy says to every illegal alien in this country they can get a Z Visa. They don't have to go home. They get a Z-Visa for 3,000 dollars. It says it's only good for four years. But if you keep reading in the bill, you find out that the Z Visa is renewable indefinitely. They can stay here forever, become permanent residents, never go home.

And, also, those that are illegal that turn legal, we give them Social Security credit for the years they were here illegal. And so that is giving an illegal person a Social Security benefit, and it's one of the reasons that -- I'm not the only one to say that. Senator Grassley of Iowa, many others said the same thing at the same time.

Look, the guy is in favor of a form of amnesty for illegals. That's why America turned against him several months ago. They just forget. I'm going to remind them.

HANNITY: Governor, on this issue of time tables, the next question, it was raised to you that President Bush said he would veto any bill that Congress sent him if time tables were in them. Would you do the same thing if you were president? You said you would veto the bill, which clearly means you do not support time tables. This was very disappointing to me. And I've got to tell you something, I was calling it a Florida surprise by Senator McCain because it was dishonest. It was deceptive. "Time Magazine," "Newsweek," the A.P. and Bill Bennett, George Will called it Clintonian. Everybody that I know -- it was clearly a dishonest attack. Does that change your opinion of him at all?

ROMNEY: Well, I think it's going to change a lot of people's opinion about the Straight-Talk Express, which is what he's been selling for some years, that he's a straight-talker, and he tells it like it is. I think people recognize that he'll say anything to get the presidency. It's been something that he's been campaigning for well, probably a decade or more, and it's within his grasp almost. And then all of a sudden this guy Mitt Romney stands up and I'm in his way. And he's going to say whatever he has to, and not just doing something that was inaccurate, but doing it at the last possible minute in a state where there's a big military component, was frankly --

HANNITY: It's like an October surprise where you're off-message. And I thought it was so flagrantly dishonest when you said you would veto it. It became a big decision for me in my decision for this coming Tuesday in New York. Let me ask you this, governor; I understand that Tim Russert on "Meet The Press" offered an opportunity this Sunday for both you and Senator McCain to go head to head in a debate. You've accepted, and is it true that Senator McCain rejected it?

ROMNEY: Yes, it is. And there's actually more to the story because when Senator McCain was on "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert the week before, Senator McCain said that he wanted to debate me on the economy and that he'd be willing to debate me on the economy. So, when Tim Russert followed up and said great, senator, we'll do that on my show, I said, I'm happy to debate John McCain on the economy.

Frankly, I listened to his comment at the debate on the economy. You may have heard it. It was a stream of consciousness type of discussion, where he talked about punishing people on Wall Street, and then he mentioned something about a town in Norway. It really was a very unusual answer. I just don't think he has a grounding in how the economy works. Frankly, that was at the heart of not only how Ronald Reagan rebuilt America's economy, but how we won the Cold War. We out-competed the Russians.

HANNITY: By the way, governor, you're both invited to come on this program in a free and open exchange and debate. We'd love to have you. Would you accept?

ROMNEY: Absolutely.

HANNITY: OK, you're very welcome. Governor, always appreciate you being with us. Thank you very much.

Coming up, John McCain is looking more and more like a front-runner, but will staunch conservatives ever warm up to the Arizona senator? When we come back, Ann Coulter, she has something to say about that. Also, Newt Gingrich weighs in and gives us a preview of what things will look like on Super Tuesday, straight ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: If you get endorsed by the "New York Times," you're probably not a conservative.

MCCAIN: Let me note that I was endorsed by your two hometown newspapers who know you best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)










(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: And Senator John McCain is gaining momentum, but not all conservatives are jumping for joy. Senator McCain is a polarizing candidate for many. And critics point to his stance on immigration, his work with Russ Feingold. But with a potential Hillary Clinton candidacy on the Democratic side of the aisle, will true conservatives eventually fall in line and support the Arizona senator?

Joining us now, author of the "New York Times" best seller, "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd be Republicans," our friend Ann Coulter. How are you?

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, "IF DEMOCRATS HAD ANY BRAINS": Fine, thank you.

HANNITY: I'm standing on substance here.

COULTER: Yes.

HANNITY: It's immigration. It's limits on free speech. It's not supporting tax cuts.

COULTER: It's Anwar. It's torture at Guantanamo.

HANNITY: Class warfare rhetoric. It's interrogations. It's Guantanamo. It's Anwar. These are not small issues to conservatives.

COULTER: No, and if you're looking at substance rather than whether it's an R or D after his name, manifestly, if our's candidate than Hillary's going to be our girl, Sean, because she's more conservative than he is. I think she would be stronger on the war on terrorism. I absolutely believe that.

HANNITY: That's the one area I disagree with you.

COULTER: No, yes, we're going to sign up together. Let me explain that point on terrorism.

HANNITY: You'd vote for Hillary --

COULTER: I will campaign for her if it's McCain.

HANNITY: If Hillary is watching tonight, you just got an endorsement --

COLMES: I just heard the word no.

COULTER: I was touched when she cried. That part isn't true. But the rest of it is true. He has led the fight against -- well, as you say, interrogations. I say torture at Guantanamo. She hasn't done that. She hasn't taken a position in front.

HANNITY: Without interrupting you, let me give you one distinction -- that's what liberals do to you. Let me give you one distinction, he did support the war --

COULTER: So did Hillary.

HANNITY: But he stayed with it. He supported the surge. I didn't like his criticisms of Rumsfeld, but he was right --

COULTER: OK, let's get to him supporting the surge. He keeps going on and on about how he was the only Republican who supported the surge and other Republicans attacked him. It was so awful how he was attacked. It was worse than being held in a tiger cage.

I looked up the record. Republicans all supported the surge. He's not only not the only one who supported the surge, I promise you no Republican attacked him for this. And you know why he's saying that, Sean, because he keeps saying it at every debate, I'm the only one. I was attacked by Republicans. He's confusing Republicans with his liberal friends. They're the ones who attacked him for it, his real friends.

HANNITY: Hillary Clinton, if she gets her way, will nationalize health care. She's going to pull the troops out of Iraq.

COULTER: I don't think she will.

HANNITY: That's what she's saying she's going to do. She says in a hundred days she's immediately going to begin to pull out.

(CROSS TALK)

COULTER: She's running in a Democratic primary. He's running in the Republican primary, and their positions are about that far apart. When George Bush said at the State of the Union Address that the surge is working in Iraq, Obama sat on his hands, Kennedy sat on his hands, Hillary leapt up and applauded that we are winning in the surge and that the surge is working in Iraq.

She gave much better answers in those debates when Democrats like Obama and Biden were saying what do we do? What do we do if three cities are attacked. She said, I will find who did it and I will go after them.

HANNITY: You want to sit back.

(CROSS TALK)

COLMES: Can I just say something -- Ann -

(CROSS TALK)

COULTER: Hillary is absolutely more conservative.

COLMES: My work is done. My work is done.

COULTER: Moreover, she lies less than John McCain. I'm a Hillary girl now. She lies less than John McCain. She's smarter than John McCain, so that when she's caught shamelessly lying, at least the Clintons know they've been caught lying. McCain is so stupid, he doesn't even know he's been caught.

COLMES: Go. In fact, could you fill in for me next week? Let me get this straight, would you vote for Hillary Clinton?

COULTER: Yes.

COLMES: You would actually go in a voting booth --

COULTER: If it's close and the candidate is John McCain, because John McCain is not only bad for Republicanism, which he definitely is. He is bad for --

(CROSS TALK)

COLMES: Can I tell you the last thing that Hillary Clinton wants? Ann Coulter's endorsement.

COULTER: Even now he's running as a Republican, he won't give up on amnesty. At that debate the other not --

(CROSS TALK)

COULTER: I'm serious.

COLMES: I know, but let me get serious for a second, because so far I haven't. Look, are you telling me -- look at all the people endorsing McCain. I'm not talking about Johnny come lately Republicans. Nancy Reagan is wrong? Rick Perry is wrong? Arnold is wrong? Charlie Crist is wrong?

COULTER: Other than Nancy Reagan --

(CROSS TALK)

COULTER: I will explain. It's not that they're wrong. Other than Nancy Reagan, and by the way we loved Nancy Reagan for loving Ron Reagan. We didn't love her for her political persuasion.

(CROSS TALK)

COLMES: All of these people are off the beat.

COULTER: I'm trying to answer the question. Stop talking. I'm moving Nancy Reagan to the side, and I'm saying all the rest of these political endorsements mean one thing; they think he's the front runner. They want a job in his administration. Nothing means less than an endorsement from someone who wants a position.

COLMES: They're all hoes just looking for a job?

COULTER: No, but they all do want jobs.

COLMES: I'm giving her the opportunity --

COULTER: They do all want jobs. It's good to be friends with the king. Some people --

HANNITY: Will you be careful.

COULTER: Some people don't care about being the king.

COLMES: Coming up, Newt Gingrich joins us for his analysis on the race to the White House. And Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, they take their battle to a California stage, and our own Frank Luntz has an all-new focus group all about it, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)










(NEWSBREAK)

COLMES: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes."

For more reaction to all that's going on in the race to the White House, we bring in former speaker of the House, author of the New York Times best seller, "Real Change," Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Speaker, you've been watching, I'm sure, this battle among conservatives, which gives me no end of pleasure, going back and forth about John McCain. I just wonder where you stand on all this?

NEWT GINGRICH, AUTHOR, "REAL CHANGE": Well, I don't -- I don't know how to top that last segment with Ann Coulter, Alan. That was amazing.

COLMES: Do you have a strong preference between Romney and McCain? You must. Even if you're not going to say it, I'm sure that internally you -- you're talking about two very different candidates? Who do you prefer?

GINGRICH: Well, I'm not going to get in the middle of this. I'll just say that I find this an unusual evening. Apparently, in the Democratic debate, Senator Clinton was citing the work she's done on electronic health records with Senator Bill Frist and with me, and now Ann Coulter has endorsed Hillary Clinton. I can't imagine a more bizarre evening in the Democratic Party.

COLMES: You've had a good relationship with Hillary Clinton. You have worked together on health care. You have worked together on electronic records. What would you do if it was Hillary Clinton versus John McCain? Would you say either of them would make a good president?

GINGRICH: I couldn't disagree more with Ann Coulter about the general election. I think there are a lot of good reasons for conservatives to be unhappy with Senator McCain.

As Sean said, on substance I disagree with him about censorship in the McCain-Feingold Bill. I disagree with him on amnesty for the borders. I disagreed with him when he voted against the tax cuts.

But if I had to choose between a Senator McCain, who would appoint conservative judges, who would have, broadly speaking, while more liberal than I am, nonetheless dramatically more conservative than Senator Clinton, I think there's very little choice for most people who care about those values, if the choice was Senator Clinton or Senator Obama versus Senator McCain.

COLMES: But surely you -- you...

GINGRICH: So the general election is pretty clear-cut.

COLMES: You, as a conservative and as a well-known conservative with strong opinions, you certainly have a preference in terms of who should get the nomination?

GINGRICH: I'm not going to take sides right now. Governor Huckabee's a good friend of mine. I've worked with Senator McCain since 1982. I've admired Governor Romney a great deal. I've spoken, you know, admirably of Governor Romney's work.

I thought last night, frankly, that Governor Romney -- just as an analyst, that Governor Romney won that debate.

And I think that John McCain should quit distorting Governor Romney's position on Iraq, because I think it's pretty patently obvious last night that what Senator McCain was saying wasn't true.

But I think the voters are going to have to make these decisions. I think it's very good for the Republican Party to have this kind of contest, because whoever we nominate is going to be a better candidate by going through it.

HANNITY: Mr. Speaker, welcome back to the program. And by the way, congratulations on the new book. It is No. 4 on the New York Times list this week, and I think that's terrific news.

There is a question, by the way. You mentioned conservative judges. John Fund wrote a column earlier in the week where he said that he would draw the line on the Samuel Alito -- meaning Senator McCain, because he wore his conservatism on his sleeve.

The McCain camp passionately denied it, but Bob Novak followed up with a column today with two separate sources that heard pretty much the same thing. When asked about Justice Alito, he said, "Well, I'd appoint somebody like Roberts, but not Alito," again, reinforcing the point that, quote, "he wore his conservatism on his sleeve."

Does that raise doubts in your mind?

GINGRICH: Well, no. Look, Chief Justice Roberts is as intellectually solid a conservative as you could ask for. I think that Senator McCain has indicated that he would be for conservatives -- I think he cited Alito last night in the debate. I would rather take him at face value.

But I'll tell you this, he would not appoint a left-wing secular, anti-right-to-life judge, and you're guaranteed that Senator Clinton or Senator Obama would appoint very, very left-wing judges. So it's very hard for me to argue that Senator McCain wouldn't be better on that issue than Senator Clinton or Senator Obama.

He'll clearly be better on spending then they would be.

But again, I'm not pulling back any punches. There are key areas where I disagree deeply with Senator McCain about principle. I don't think he's a movement conservative, but I think in a broad way, he's far more conservative than either of the likely Democratic nominees.

HANNITY: As we look at the different polls, as we take a preview into Super Tuesday coming up here, Massachusetts, Colorado, Utah, there are states that Governor Romney is winning by significant margin.

Do you agree with my analysis that, if it's not a two-man race, and that is that I think, you know, with the evangelical vote that has gone in pretty big numbers for Mike Huckabee, if it remains a split with the conservative voters, does that take away any chance he has of coming back on Super Tuesday? And do you think Mike Huckabee should stay in the race?

GINGRICH: Look, I fully expect Senator McCain, because of the winner- take-all provisions, to do very well in California, although there they vote by congressional district. And my guess is the more conservative districts will go for Romney. To do very well in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut, which are winner-take-all.

But I think in the rest country, Governor Romney will do very well, and Governor Huckabee will do fairly well.

I think right now there's no evidence -- Senator McCain's peaked out at 35 percent in Florida. There's no evidence he's anywhere close to 50 percent, and I think you could easily see Governor Huckabee emerging as the balance of power between these two frontrunners.

COLMES: All right. We thank you very much. We'll actually continue with Newt Gingrich in just a moment.

Let us first check with Greta Van Susteren, Greta here to tell us what happens right after "Hannity & Colmes" at 10 Eastern.

Good evening, Greta.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST, "ON THE RECORD": Good evening, Alan.

Bombshell news in the Natalee Holloway case. We'll have the very latest.

And Sergeant Drew Peterson. I don't think this is a good night for him, because he's had some very bad news just a short time ago. We'll tell you that and much more.

Back to you.

HANNITY: And coming up more with Speaker Gingrich. It's coming up on the other side of the break.

Also, Frank Luntz, he's live in Los Angeles tonight with an all-new focus group. And he's also, by the way, being joined tonight by a very, very special guest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: And we continue now with former speaker of the House, author of the New York Times best-seller, "Real Change." And by the way, it was written before "change versus experience" became the catch phrase of this campaign.

Congratulations, this week No. 4 on the New York Times, Mr. Speaker. Another big week for you.

I want to go back to what you were saying, the balance of power as it relates to Governor Huckabee. Right now, if I were to look at polls, I would say that Utah, Colorado, Massachusetts go Romney. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, again, winner-take-all states, they'll go to Senator McCain.

California, as you were pointing out, delegates by district. The southern states, for example, your state of Georgia, your old state of Georgia, leaning Huckabee; Alabama, leaning Huckabee.

So it seems that, you know, these northeastern states are going to go a little bit toward Senator McCain, liberal-moderate wing of the party. There's going to be a split, though, in states that would traditionally be more conservative.

So how do we analyze this, and does this go beyond Super Tuesday?

GINGRICH: I think this goes way beyond Super Tuesday. I think what you're seeing is that Governor Romney is bouncing back. His performance last night in the debate, I think, hurt Senator McCain to some degree.

Governor Romney has greater resources than Senator McCain, ironically in part because of the McCain-Feingold censorship act that blocked Senator McCain from gathering the money he should.

The result is that McCain is going to carry the liberal parts. He's going to carry the areas that would have gone for Giuliani, and he's going to do reasonably well in his home state of Arizona.

Governor Romney is going to carry states that are relatively secular conservative states, and Governor Huckabee is going to carry the traditional Bible Belt areas. And I think you could end up in a -- I think this is going to go through Texas. It's going to go through Virginia.

I think you could end up in a convention with no one above 50 percent and Governor Huckabee actually being the balance of power.

HANNITY: Look, you know something, Mr. Speaker? I've always liked John McCain. He's a war hero. But I've always found myself in real substantive disagreement with him.

I want to go through these issues again, and I mentioned them earlier in the program here.

On immigration, conservatives are angry. They want the borders controlled. His bill was an amnesty bill.

On free speech issues, the biggest limitation in our lifetime was McCain-Feingold.

On tax cuts, he used class warfare rhetoric: "These are tax cuts that will only benefit the wealthy." I didn't like the class warfare we rhetoric.

We need to drill in ANWR. Guantanamo needs to stay where it is. Interrogation of terrorists, we need to have these things.

We're not talking about a single issue or two here. We're talking about a -- a regular pattern of leaving conservatives behind. And calling (ph) on the most liberal members of the United States Senate.

GINGRICH: Let me say something beyond that, Sean. I was very jarred last night when Senator McCain talked about maybe some people need to be punished for the subprime mortgages.

I don't -- I think if we started introducing a criminalization, class warfare model, we're going to wreck this economy. And I found what he said last night about going after some people, about they may need to be punished, I thought that illustrated a very bad understanding of the free market and how this world works.

COLMES: Mr. Speaker, what a horrible thing -- you're Newt Gingrich -- John McCain has done working with members of the opposite party, learning to work with Ted Kennedy, learning to work with Russ Feingold, learning to actually get along with people like Hillary Clinton.

What a horrible thing for a president to actually show bipartisanship, the very thing you talk about on a regular basis, to rise above ideology to try to solve problems. Isn't that what John McCain has done?

GINGRICH: Well, let's look at the distinction for a second, Alan. Governor Huckabee always had a Democratic majority in the legislature while he was governor. He worked with them for 10 and a half years.

Governor Romney had a Democratic majority in the legislature when he was in Massachusetts.

COLMES: And he was a liberal at that time.

GINGRICH: And he worked with them for four years.

I'm not against working with people. I worked with Senator Kerry recently on electronic prescribing. I've worked with Senator Clinton on electronic health records.

What concerns me is what the issues are and what you're trying to accomplish. I think the McCain-Feingold bill is the greatest censorship act since the Alien Sedition Act of the 1790s. It is a very dangerous bill. I think it was wrong.

COLMES: Are conservatives -- are conservatives making a mistake, going after John McCain to the extent that they are? He could be the nominee. And you know, is it a mistake? Are they dividing the party and actually helping the Democrats by the kind of rhetoric they're using against John McCain?

HANNITY: What rhetoric? He's a liberal.

COLMES: I believe I was asking the question to Newt Gingrich.

GINGRICH: Alan, Alan, let me be clear. If Senator McCain is the Republican nominee, I'm going to actively support him. I'll do all I can to elect him. But I won't give up my views on tax cuts. I won't give up my views on censorship. I won't give up my views on amnesty.

And I think it's very important to draw a distinction here. Republicans may end up being for Senator McCain as their nominee, but conservative Republicans have every right to actually believe in what they believe.

COLMES: You know, I keep hearing Ronald Reagan's name being invoked, and on some of the same issues you're attacking -- that McCain is being attacked on, Ronald Reagan, who granted amnesty to illegal immigrants. Ronald Reagan, who appointed Sandra Day O'Connor and Judge Souter.

And you're telling -- and yet John McCain comes under fire for those same positions that the hero of the right wing, Ronald Reagan, had.

GINGRICH: Alan, I know that -- I don't want to get into name calling, so I'm not going to suggest that you only read liberal textbooks, but let me suggest here...

COLMES: Are you saying -- are you saying I'm well-educated? Is that what you're saying, Newt?

GINGRICH: Let me -- let me suggest to you if you go to Ronald Reagan's diary, which came out last year, you'll see the section where he says he signed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, which did provide amnesty. We were told -- I voted for it. We were told 300,000 people; turned out to be 3 million.

But here's what Reagan says: "We have to control the border, and we have to enforce the law with employers. And the only way I could get this bill through was to sign that."

COLMES: We've got to run, but you signed it, he -- he signed it. We'll talk about that, I'm sure, another time. Thank you for being with us.

Coming up Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue to battle in another debate show-down. Our own Frank Luntz has an all-new focus group, coming up next on "Hannity & Colmes."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)










COLMES: The Democratic field for president down to two as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama debate in California tonight. Our own Frank Luntz on the ground with an all-new focus group. Also, a special guest with him again tonight, actor John Cleese.

By the way, I was a very big "Monty Python" fan years ago. I've got all their -- Frank, go ahead.

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Yes, it's a pleasure to have a raconteur and a renaissance man, John Cleese with me.

JOHN CLEESE, ACTOR: Racketeer?

LUNTZ: You've got to get your hearing fixed.

CLEESE: Yes, I have. Excuse me.

LUNTZ: Yes, well -- and by the way, Michael Palin was always my favorite Python anyway.

By before we get to John Cleese, let's ask our group how many of you thought that Hillary Clinton was the winner tonight at the debate? Raise your hands. Four of you.

How many of you thought Barack Obama won? Overwhelmingly Obama.

But did any of you change your minds from when you walked in here in terms of being undecided and now you're supporting a candidate, you switched? We've got two people right here -- Jerry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I was leaning toward voting for John Edwards, who of course, left the campaign yesterday, and I was persuaded today by what Barack had to say.

LUNTZ: What did he say in particular?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the first place, he was much more articulate. He was much more uplifting. But there was one thing he said that nobody's commented on and I thought that was very important.

LUNTZ: Which is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was extremely upfront about saying something no politician is...

LUNTZ: Which is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will raise taxes.

LUNTZ: And that's -- good for you. How many of you support it when a Democrat says, "I will raise taxes"? I've always said this is what differentiates Republicans from Democrats.

Peggy, you switched.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I did. I was very much for -- well, you know, I've been flip-flopping. But...

LUNTZ: By the way, you were flip-flopping even tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I love them both, but Obama is -- I know now why there's an Obama phenomenon. Because this guy is phenomenal. If he becomes president, we will definitely see a very positive change in our country.

LUNTZ: You were absolutely undecided when you walked in here. You were praising both people. Who are you walking out supporting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama.

LUNTZ: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The primary reason why: he talked a lot about the Medicare and lowering the cost. My mom, she's on Social Security, so that would be great for her.

And No. 2, getting the troops out. From myself personally, I have a brother-in-law who was in Iraq. Now he's back at home having some psychological problems. So to me I think that's a big key.

LUNTZ: So for you it's policy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LUNTZ: You said earlier that you were watching the debate. I could not get you to take sides. Now that you've watched it, who won?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barack Obama definitely won.

LUNTZ: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary started to bore me. She's very intelligent, but she's not very relatable, especially to people my age.

LUNTZ: Charles?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought Barack Obama won it today. I thought Hillary had a lot of trouble with the Iraq issue.

LUNTZ: I need someone to speak on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Someone? OK, if we can get the microphone over there. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I absolutely -- I love Hillary. I was kind of -- we're not voting for a rock star. You know, we're voting for the president. We're not voting for who's the most popular. We're not voting for who's the cutest or who says the most nice things. We're voting for the president. You know?

LUNTZ: And she's the best in your mind?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think she's absolutely the best candidate.

LUNTZ: John, what would you like to ask him?

CLEESE: I wanted to ask everyone, Margaret Thatcher was a pretty effective and powerful leader. How many years do you think she had in British government at the top level before she became our leader? And what positions do you think she held?

LUNTZ: How many of you think she had more than five years in government? Raise your hands.

Who thinks that she had three or less? Raise your hands.

So you all thought that she wasn't experienced.

CLEESE: Do you know what position she held in the cabinet during those three years? She was minister of education.

LUNTZ: Did that qualify her to be prime minister of Britain? Yes or no?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Apparently, it did.

LUNTZ: So what you guys are saying is that it's a different definition of experience to you. You're prepared to vote for Barack Obama, even though Hillary Clinton has more experience?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Experienced at what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LUNTZ: Explain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, there's life experience. There's all types of experience. Hillary Clinton has only been in the Senate for a couple of more years than Barack Obama, so does that infinitely qualify her over Obama?

LUNTZ: You're one of the youngest people here. What's the most important attribute to you, Charlie?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say somebody who can get the job done. I do like when people talk about records. At the same time I think before this I wasn't sure if Obama would fight back against a Republican.

LUNTZ: And?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he fought back. You know, we're not electing Alan Colmes as our nominee, which is good.

LUNTZ: Interesting. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doesn't Barack Obama have more years experience as an elected official? I thought that he did, but I also wanted to say for me, personally, I'm bringing a new life into this world, and I want...

LUNTZ: How many more weeks? How many more weeks?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another month. Another month.

LUNTZ: Wow. Don't do it here, please. There's no doctors here. Don't do it here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But -- but the online question which came in about there being a Clinton or Bush in the office since 1988, which could potentially be to 2016, you know, I'm bringing a new life. I want new change, and I trust Barack Obama.

LUNTZ: Do you guys agree with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One hundred percent.

LUNTZ: What other question would you ask them?

CLEESE: Well, you see, I think sometimes we're talking about experience. You said -- you said what kind of experience? You know, I think necessarily -- working with rich and powerful people is not necessarily better experience than working with working people.

You know, I think the great problem about the Bush administration is that they think much too much about the rich and powerful, which is why they screwed up everything socially.

LUNTZ: You agree with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I -- I agree with what John just said, and -- but on the experience thing, I mean come on, everybody's saying, "Oh, we hate Washington, and we hate the insiders. And we hate the guys that" -- OK. Fine. How about a mom? All right? And besides that...

LUNTZ: They've got to wrap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the -- yes, the experience that she's had has been working for a lot longer than he has. She's a lot more mature.

LUNTZ: You have a last comment. A female, African-American. Who do you relate to more, quick?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barack Obama.

LUNTZ: Because?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I feel that...

LUNTZ: Quick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He understands my perspective on war and health care and...

LUNTZ: OK. We've got to go. I'm sorry. I forgive you. But next time get to the point.

Hey, Alan, Sean...

HANNITY: Thank you, Frank.

LUNTZ: ... this debate was very popular tonight. Critical (ph).

HANNITY: Barack Obama's night tonight. And "Fawlty Towers" is better than "Monty Python."


Facebook | Email | Print |

Sponsored Links