Discussion of Attacks on Michelle Obama

Discussion of Attacks on Michelle Obama

Hannity & Colmes - July 17, 2008

HANNITY: And welcome to HANNITY & COLMES. We're glad you're with us. I'm Sean Hannity and we get right to our top developing story.

Senator Barack Obama is defending his wife by attacking little old me, Sean Hannity. In an interview with "Glamour" magazine Senator Obama was asked how he felt about criticism of his wife.

He responded, quote, "It's infuriating, but it's not surprising because, let's face it, what happened was that the conservative press, FOX News, and the National Review, and columnists of every ilk, went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way, and treated her as the candidate in a way that you just rarely see the Democrats try to do against Republicans.

And I've said this before, I would never have my campaign engage in a concerted effort to make Cindy McCain an issue, and I would not expect the Democratic National Committee or people who were allied with me to do this, because, essentially, spouses are civilians.

They didn't sign up for this. They are supporting their spouse so it took a toll. If you start being subjected to rants by Sean Hannity and the like, day in and day out, that'll drive up your negatives."

So let's get this straight, Senator. Your wife campaigns for you, does public speeches, and says things like she's finally proud of her country, and that America is a downright mean country in 2008, and she should be immune from criticism?

And joining us tonight with reaction to this developing story, FOX News contributor Karl Rove.

Karl, how should I interpret this?

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH ADVISOR: Well, you know, look, I have a certain sympathy for where Senator Obama is coming from. He's right, spouses are civilians, but if spouses get involved in the process and begin to make explicit political statements like the ones that you mentioned from Michelle Obama, they're intruding into the process.

They can't say I'm a civilian and then become involved in the process by making policy statements. I mean, look, she said she wanted to -- to rip Bill Clinton's eyes out at one point. You know you mentioned the article where she -- you know, we're -- our nation, our country, is just downright mean. We're guided by fear. We're a nation of cynics, sloths and complacents.

We've become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day. It's getting worse over my lifetime and, doggone it, I'm young. I mean these are the kind of things that cross the line between the appropriate role for a spouse and an equally appropriate role for a spouse being a political actor on the stage, but if you decide to become a political actor, then the things that you say and you do become subject of public scrutiny and comment.

HANNITY: Yes, and I want to be clear about this because there's a liberal talking point out there that she said really proud of my country. She did say that one time, but another time she said, "For the first time in my adult life, I'm proud," you know, "of my country."

ROVE: Right. Right.

HANNITY: But I think, once she's injected herself into the campaign, and she -- if she thinks, and she wants to be first lady, that America is a downright mean country, if he talks in front of his millionaire friends about bitter Americans clinging to guns and religion, I personally think that's fair game, because they're going to represent all of us in the end.

Isn't that right?

ROVE: Yes. Right.

Look, every presidential spouse is going to be subjected to scrutiny. I mean, look, Cindy McCain's -- you know, her ownership of a beer distributor, you know, whether or not she paid the taxes on her elderly aunt's condo in California, what are her income taxes -- these are all matters of public speculation. So is Michelle Obama's, you know, dissertation at Princeton and her job as a lobbyist for a hospital.

That's always going -- the press is going to look into that.


ROVE: But she did invite scrutiny of her views and values by injecting them into the campaign. I mean these.


ROVE: And I understand where he's coming from, and I'm very sympathetic to it.


ROVE: But the best answer for her, if he doesn't want her to be commented on.


ROVE: . is to have her make comments that are not controversial in the way that these other comments have been.

HANNITY: Well, I want to say, he also said in this very same article, you know, that the problem is rarely do these folks ever have the guts to say it to your face.

Senator Obama is welcome on this program. I'll give him -- I'll let him co-host my radio show for three hours, he can be here, I'll let him fill in for Alan one night for a full hour.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: But you get the say in that?

HANNITY: I get the say.

COLMES: I'll take it.

HANNITY: I'll let him have -- I'll even throw in "HANNITY'S AMERICA" for an hour.

Every -- I am not ashamed of anything I've ever said. I think we've asked some very tough questions, but this is the most important job in this world, and it seems to me, and maybe this is unsolicited advice to Senator Obama, and that is, Senator Obama, you know, you singled me out, and I want to give you advice.

It seems to me that if you want to be taken seriously, he needs to be -- be acting like a statesman. He needs to be acting presidential. Do you agree with me?

ROVE: Well, you -- you make an interesting point, Sean. I think that he hyperventilated in this article. The best way to deal with this would be to be low key about it, and the best way for the issue to go away is for her not to make additional comments.

Look, if she -- if the last thing that she said were the things that she said in March, in April, in May, then by July, and August, and September, you know, the issue would be diminished and people would no longer be talking about it.

But this was hyperventilation, I mean, to suggest that she has a right to say these things and nobody has the right to be critical of her about it, is I think.


ROVE: . a step too far.

COLMES: Hey, Karl, I didn't hear her say anything about policy. I heard her make statements that, I believe, were mischaracterized. And she went on to clarify what she meant. She meant in terms of the political process. A lot of people make big statements and I think should have an ability and a right to clarify what you say in the heat of the moment.

ROVE: Yes.

COLMES: John McCain to Sean Hannity said, I really didn't love America until I was deprived of her company.

Now, I don't, for a minute, believe that John McCain didn't love his country prior to being held captive, but I don't think.

ROVE: Yes.

COLMES: . we should believe that Michelle Obama was never proud of her company by the same token.

ROVE: Well, look, Alan, here's the point. We can have a legitimate - - disagreement about whether or not she meant what she said when she said it. But the point is is that, in order to stop the controversy, two things need to happen. She ought to not say additional things that are of that controversial nature, and he ought not to continue to pour gasoline on the fire so that we revisit this.

If he had said to "Glamour" magazine, you know what, that's been asked and answered, you know, I didn't like it, I'm concerned about my spouse, blah blah blah, this thing would -- they would not have hyped this for an October -- an article that's going to appear in October, they'd not be hyping it in July.

But the fact that he not only came back and said, you know, not only am I upset about it, but I'm now going to pick up some people and really take the wood to them, reenergizes the whole controversy.

We wouldn't be talking about this if he had not.

COLMES: Well, I think.

ROVE: . if he had not poured gasoline on a small green fire.

COLMES: A lot of people see a guy standing up for his wife. You know you've got Michelle Malkin referring to her as his bitter half, "National Review" calling her "Mrs. Grievance." There are rumors of a tape which he talks about whitey?

Do you know anything about that -- this alleged in tape that's out there?

ROVE: Yes. Not anything -- but, Alan, let me go back. I read the "National Review" article. It is a reasonable response to a series of statements. I mean she gave a speech in February in which she told people don't go into corporate America.

Well, you know, she had good sentiments which were, you ought to think about being a teacher, you ought to think about serving your community.

COLMES: Right.

ROVE: She could have said those things without taking on people by saying, I'm going to diminish people who go into corporate America.

Again, this is the point, is that she can say things in a way that's positive and optimistic, or she can say things -- you know, I'm proud of America. Not I'm proud of America for the first time in my adult life.


ROVE: She could.

COLMES: You know what she meant.

ROVE: She could say, you know what? We want to encourage people to become teachers and social workers. She doesn't say don't go into corporate America.

COLMES: And to you.

ROVE: And that's my point.

COLMES: Do you know anything about this alleged tape that exist with her referring to whitey?

ROVE: No, in fact, I saw on the Internet that I supposedly am in possession of the tape. But I.

COLMES: That's what I read.

ROVE: But didn't I give it to you?

HANNITY: No. By the way.

COLMES: No, I don't think I have it.

HANNITY: No, they actually said I had the tape.


COLMES: Does Karl Rove -- Karl Rove knows nothing about this, huh?

ROVE: Know nothing about it.

COLMES: All right.

ROVE: And I would find it hard to believe that such a tape exists.

COLMES: All right. We're going to come right back. Now you're on the record of saying that.

More with Karl Rove as he tells us what current crises both Obama and McCain can turn into huge political opportunity, plus never a dull moment on "The View." Today heated debate resulting in tears, but it's not what you think coming up.

ANNOUNCER: "Top Story" is brought to you by.


COLMES: Karl Rove has words of wisdom for John McCain and Barack Obama. In a "Wall Street Journal" editorial, he paints the current Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac crisis as an opportunity for both candidates to distinguish themselves on the key issue of the economy.

More importantly, he thinks the rewards could be huge. The first candidate to endorse an effective policy may just capture the election.

And for more analysis we now continue with Karl Rove.

Has John McCain even articulated a vision on the economy?

ROVE: Sure, he has. Prosperity through lower taxes, less spending, less regulation, more trade liberalization, by retraining -- helping retrain people in struggling states and economies where the jobs are going away.

COLMES: Same thing Obama has done.

ROVE: Well, I'm not certain that when it gets down to lower taxes, less government, no earmarks, liberalized trade agreements, that I've heard that from Senator Obama.

COLMES: Lower taxes for everybody who is not making 250 a year or more. But -- and.

ROVE: You know, Alan.

COLMES: . lower taxes for people 50 grand -- go ahead.

ROVE: Alan, you've got a good point there. There is a difference between Senator Obama and Senator McCain. Senator Obama believes that the government ought to be able to take as much as it thinks it needs from anybody.

Senator McCain believes there ought to be a limit to how much the government can take from anybody, and he believes -- let me finish -- he believes that today with the federal tax rate at 35 percent that that's more than the government ought to be taking from any individual regardless of how much they make.

COLMES: But you're -- Obama doesn't believe that. He would lower taxes for the middle class.

ROVE: No, he won't.

COLMES: He would have no taxes for the elderly.

ROVE: No, he wouldn't.

COLMES: . who make 50,000 or less.

ROVE: No, no, no.


ROVE: He wants to raise the upper tax rate from 35 percent to 39 percent which means that people would be paying 39 percent federal income tax, 14 percent Social Security tax, and 2 percent Medicare tax, which means they'd be paying over half of their paycheck in taxes to the federal government.

That's not counting state and local taxes including.

COLMES: Only if in income taxes.


ROVE: But, Alan, in America we believe there ought to be limits on government. We believe that the government that can take everything from somebody can take everything from everybody. And there ought to be a limit.

COLMES: It's not everybody -- but that's not his plan, Karl, and you know that's not his tax plan. You keep -- you people on the right.

ROVE: I will -- I've just.

COLMES: . keep saying he's going to raise taxes as if.


ROVE: Alan, I've just outlined his plan that he's in favor of. He wants the top bracket to be -- which is today 35, when in -- 2011 he wants that tax cut to expire and that bracket to go to 39 percent. He is right today, the Social Security tax is 7 percent on the individual side, 7 percent from the employer, that's 14 percent tax.

He wants to raise that so that everybody pays that up to $102,000 a year, and then again from $250,000 up, so that's another 14 percent tax, and there's a 2 percent Medicare tax on top of that. That's his plan.

HANNITY: And let me add to that. He would eliminate the Bush tax cuts, families of four making $50,000 a year. They were saving $2,500 a year themselves. FICA taxes, as you point out, capital gains he's going to double, the top rates he's going to raise, windfall profit tax.

ROVE: State tax comes back.

HANNITY: . corporate taxes.

ROVE: Yes, and the family making a tax cut today at $2,500, he says he's going to give them back $1,000 of the $2,500 he's going to collect.


ROVE: It will be a net tax increase of $1,500.

But, Alan, again, there's a difference. I grant you there. We can argue about the details all day long, but there's a big difference between these men. One of them says there ought to be a limit to how much the government takes from any one individual, and the other says, look, the more you make, the higher percentage it ought to be.

And there are -- and look, most Americans, you know, the Tax Foundation does an annual study. 71 percent of the American people think that the federal government should take no more than 20 percent of anybody's paycheck no matter how much they make.

HANNITY: Hey, Karl.

ROVE: And today we're taking 35 percent.

HANNITY: And it would be up, as you say, around the 50 percent rate.



ROVE: 39 income tax, 14 Social Security, 2 percent Medicare.

HANNITY: And then state, local, federal on top of that.

ROVE: Right. Right.

HANNITY: All right.

ROVE: State local.

HANNITY: Karl, let me ask you. I've been saying all week on this program that -- and most Americans are angry over the high price of gasoline. I've used the term -- I think this is a clear and present danger to the United States. I've said it all week. I believe that we are on the verge, potentially, of an energy war, especially with political instability in the Middle East.

And Nancy Pelosi said they're not going to have a vote on whether or not we can have offshore drilling or exploration. Barack Obama says no nukes, no coalmining, and no refining, no drilling.

So my question is, can this become the or a big defining issue in the campaign?

ROVE: Oh yes. Look, on the domestic front, I think, they're going to be. Spending is going to be a big issue, taxes, big issue, energy, bigger than both of them, and housing is going to be a big issue, as well. Hence my op-ed today in the "Wall Street Journal."

HANNITY: And by the way, I read them all the time, and they're very well put together.

Karl Rove, the architect, thanks for giving it to Alan, I appreciate it.

COLMES: Gave what to me?


COLMES: Nothing. Unscathed.

HANNITY: Thank you.

(Commercial Break)

COLMES: Now we're just 110 days away from election day, and as voters continue to scrutinize the candidates, is it fair game to focus on their spouses in the process?

Joining us now more reaction to Barack Obama's Glamour magazine cover, former vice-presidential candidate, Geraldine Ferraro. Welcome back to our show.


COLMES: Thanks for being back with us. What about that? Has Michelle Obama been unfairly attacked?

FERRARO: Look, let me just make one statement. Because if you go back to 1984 -- and by the way tomorrow is the 24-year anniversary of my getting the nomination.

COLMES: Congratulations.

FERRARO: Yes. But if you go back to that time, you know, spouses were not involved as surrogates in campaigns. So I think when John was attacked -- the only time John ever spoke to the press, he gave one interview, and he was misquoted. After that all he tried to do was avoid the press. He was never near the press. He was never...

COLMES: Yes. So they did go after your spouse, to some extent?

FERRARO: They did. My children were surrogates. And so they were fair game if, indeed, they said something on the stump that was not -- that was being challenged.

Fast-forward to what's been happening over the last number of years. You have more professional wives who are becoming involved as spouses of presidential candidates, and it goes from Teresa Heinz, Hillary Clinton, to Cindy McCain, now to Michelle Obama. If they are out as surrogates, just like any other surrogate, they're responsible for what they say.

COLMES: But look at the things they attack her on. Her thesis at Princeton, which I believe was misstated in terms of what she was actually saying. They've attacked her, I think, the statement she made about being proud of her country was -- and actually, she corrected it and -- and said what she really meant.

FERRARO: The thing about it is, if you take a look at what's going on, she is fair game because she's a surrogate, and we should expect that. A professional woman who are the spouses of male delegates, and we should expect it of professional men who are the spouses of women running for office. I mean, we'll see that.

Now, even in this campaign, Chelsea -- which in 1992, she certainly wasn't somebody who was subject to this type of thing -- but this campaign she was out on the stump. She was a surrogate.

COLMES: Do you blame a husband for..?

FERRARO: They should not have criticized her personally, but they should go after where she is on issues, as indeed they have.

COLMES: Do you blame Barack Obama for saying...

FERRARO: No, no, he was talking to Glamour magazine. I happen to think it's very chivalrous.


FERRARO: Well, first of all, let me just tell you: people reading Glamour magazine I don't think are the people who are...

HANNITY: By the way, can I say something? I have my rebuttal in Cosmo magazine.

FERRARO: Oh, Cosmo! The thing about is not, but this is not anything new. And it's all -- I think it's part of a very good campaign tactic.

COLMES: But to attack her on her thesis.

FERRARO: But -- if indeed -- indeed he -- someone says something about her. Barack Obama has complained about this since May, February, every time he's attacked. It doesn't work. But women love to hear a man defending their wife.

COLMES: So it's good for him to say this?

HANNITY: Hang on, Geraldine, this is what he says about me. If you start being subjected to rants by Sean Hannity and the like day in and day out, they'll drive up your negatives.

You know, add this to the long list of things with Obama that you can't talk about. You can't talk about his minister. You can't talk about Pfleger. We can't talk about Ayers, and we can't talk about anything.

FERRARO: Yes. You know what? You want me to raise your hand on how the press can drive up your negatives? I lost a Senate race because the last ten -- the last two weeks somebody attacked me unfairly.

HANNITY: Listen, I'm attacked regularly by Alan's friends.

COLMES: I tell them what to say.

FERRARO: Well, it wasn't -- it wasn't you. It was in 1992. But if you turn around and you say so what's happening with the campaign.

Let's not forget how John Kerry lost. I mean, he lost because his -- that's a national political campaign. None of us like it. I don't think it's fair, but...

HANNITY: Why isn't it fair? Wait a minute. I want to ask it. Because there were no rants here. But when you insult America and when you say for the first time in my adult life I'm proud of my country, when she - - Michelle Obama, Senator Obama, she called this country that we love a downright mean country.

I happen to think America is one of the greatest, most generous, kindest, best countries on earth, and if I disagree, why is that a rant?

FERRARO: Well, it's -- you know, he's characterizing it as that. The thing about it, Sean, is as long as it's fair comment -- and that's what we talked about -- as long as it's fair comment. As long as somebody's put themselves out as a surrogate, as long as they've said what I'm saying is what I believe, and is part of this team that's running for president, then I think it's fair game.

HANNITY: All right. But you -- when but you came under fire, you know -- for example, when the Wright controversy broke, it was snippets taken out of context played over and over in a loop.

It's always snippets taken out of context, it's unfair. It seems like an awful lot of whining going on.

COLMES: There we go again with the whining.

HANNITY: It seems like an awful lot of whining going on. And if you want to be president of the United States of America, I think you've got to be prepared to be attacked and have criticism.

FERRARO: Campaigns -- national campaigns are tough. Yes, you have to be prepared to be attacked, and I have to tell you, if you get elected, you have to also be prepared.

HANNITY: You're still being attacked, and you're not even in office anymore.

FERRARO: I'm trying to hide except when I'm on this show.

COLMES: The greatest place to do it. Right here.

HANNITY: Exactly. Greatest place to do it.

I want to say this to Senator Obama because you said, Senator, that -- and you know the problem is, is that rarely do these folks have the guts to say it to your face.

Senator Obama, here is my invitation. Anything I've ever said about you, you can sit right here, and I will say it to your face. Do you have the guts to come on this program and take some tough questions?

Now I know you're bringing your three press secretaries -- Charlie Gibson, Brian Williams, and Katie Couric on your trip to Iraq. They didn't go with John McCain. But if you come on the program, I promise you I'll say it to your face. That a fair deal?

FERRARO: I think you should go on the trip, too.

HANNITY: He's got 10,000 media press secretaries going with him. What do they need me for?

FERRARO: It's going to be interesting.

HANNITY: All right. Geraldine, good to see you.

FERRARO: Thank you, Sean.

Hannity & Colmes


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