August 11, 2005

Sean Hannity and Dick Morris Try To Explain Why Hillary Clinton's 22-Point Lead Means She's In Trouble

Only on FOX News would a Democrat's double-digit lead in the polls be painted as a political problem. But that's exactly what Dick Morris, with the very eager and willing Sean Hannity, tried to do last night (8/10/04) on Hannity & Colmes. Alan Colmes could barely keep a straight face.

Colmes opened the segment with guest Dick Morris by announcing the statistics of a new Marist Poll showing Hillary Clinton ahead of her just-announced rival, Jeanine Pirro, 50% to 28% respectively.

Morris, oozing enthusiasm, asked Colmes, "Did you see that poll?" as if it was the best news ever. Colmes looked like he was trying not to crack up as Morris explained why that showed weakness for Hillary. The way he explained it, Pirro's announcement a few days ago that she'll be running for Clinton's senate seat caused a 13-point decline "not to go to Pirro but to switch to undecided." Morris went on to say that "Hillary's problem" (notice that Clinton is "Hillary" but Pirro is "Pirro.") is that New Yorkers don't want her to "walk out on them" by running for president. "The stronger Hillary is, the weaker she is. The more she seems like a likely presidential winner, the more difficult the senate race becomes in New York. It's perfect."

It was hard to believe that Morris could be serious about such a wacky theory but he was.

Colmes, however, obviously couldn't take it seriously and looked as though he was trying to keep from laughing. Noting that Morris has made his enmity toward Hillary clear and that he'd "do anything" to make her lose, Colmes asked, "Can you separate your emotional desire and involvement here from actually a cold-hearted analysis of the situation?"

Morris, laughing, said, "Yeah, I sure can. I've been doing it my whole life." (Comment: Are there a lot of former clients he hates that he goes on TV to analyze "cold-heartedly?" I doubt it.)

Morris, still grinning, said, "If Pirro comes on and says 'Look, I'm pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-affirmative action, anti-crime, tough on terror. The only difference is that I want to be senator and I'll give it my full time...'"

Colmes interrupted to say that Pirro had to have "a bigger argument" than the fact that Hillary won't serve six years.

Morris insisted she didn't, that "All she has to do is to say 'I'm enough like Hillary and my full-time is better than her part-time.'"

Hannity took his turn then and told Morris he was "right on" about the 13 points. Hannity added that "56% of people don't even know who Jeanine is yet - which helps her - which is why she's only at 28% right now." (Comment: But it's a safe bet that FNC will do their part in getting her name in front of the public by having Pirro on the air quite a bit between now and November.)

Furthermore, Hannity claimed, nearly 40% of the state's voters think Hillary should pledge to serve the full term and only 35% want her to run for president. Exuberantly, Hannity said, "This is not good for Hillary!"

Morris enthusiastically agreed and got in another dig. "The wonderful thing about it is that if the accusation is that Hillary is dishonest about billing records or futures market or that Hillary is a carpetbagger or whatever, those accusations don't work." Instead, Morris, claimed, the winning strategy is for Pirro to go after Clinton by saying she doesn't want to be senator, that she'll spend her whole term raising money, that "we're going to have to fly to Des Moines to see (Clinton)."

Morris giggled with aniticipation of victory as he continued, "If, in addition to that, (Pirro) says 'I'm pro-choice, I'm for affirmative action, I'm for gun control, the only difference is I'll be there and you won't.' How does Hillary oppose that?"

Comment: There were a few things Morris didn't mention that could be problems for Pirro: 1. As The New York Times reports today, "(In 2001) Ms. Pirro won (as Westchester District Attorney) by a slim margin against a relatively unknown Democratic opponent who attempted to link her to the business dealings of her husband, Albert J. Pirro, a lawyer and lobbyist, who served time in federal prison after being convicted of tax evasion the previous year. The narrowness of the victory was viewed as a setback for a woman who was thought to be a rising star in the New York Republican Party, prompting speculation that her political prospects outside Westchester had been hurt."

Even The NY Post, FNC's sister outlet, wrote that Clinton's presidential ambitions "are not necessarily disqualifying prospects" and that "(if) Pirro appears to be the best the Republicans have to offer against Hillary Clinton, (that) says much about the state of New York's GOP."

Even Hannity seemed dubious about Morris' strategy for Pirro's victory. Hannity said Morris is "the only person out here" who thinks Pirro can win.

"Oh, I do. I do. Look at this number. The rule of thumb always is that anyone who doesn't vote for you as undecided is voting against an incumbent. And she's down to 50!"

Hannity, becoming more enthusiastic, said that Pirro is a "Rudy Guiliani, except she's a woman!"

Morris said that the key for Pirro is to raise "early money" and do a "strong media buy" and "Bill and Hillary (my emphasis) are looking at polls that show them (only) 7 or 8 points ahead of Jeanine..."

Comment: That's a big assumption, including the part about dropping 15 points in the poll, but Morris wasn't done with his daydream.

"And (if) they really are looking at Hillary being under 50, I bet you that Hillary withdraws from this race."

Then Morris topped it all off with his piece de resistance. He claimed that Terry McAuliffe told him during the Republican convention that Hillary would not run for re-election to the senate if she had a tough race. According to Morris, McAuliffe told him "Why should she squander 30 million dollars getting re-elected to a job she doesn't want?"

Colmes, still looking like he was about to crack up, ended the segment by asking if Morris wanted a job as Pirro's advisor.

Morris claimed he didn't.

Too bad, because if he were to actually put his advice into action, I think it would be an even surer win for Clinton.

Reported by ellen at August 11, 2005 01:00 AM

"Colmes interrupted to say that Pirro had to have "a bigger argument" than the fact that Hillary won't serve six years."

How much did Bush serve of his second term as Governor of Texas?

Posted by: Robrob at August 11, 2005 01:22 AM

After watching a 2-hour special on Peter Jennings, Fox seems even less like news then usual. I doubt if Morris mentioned that Clinton's approval rating is in the 70s and is near 50 percent with NY Republicans. Pirro is a sacrificial lamb, who will be outspent 4 to 1 and lose big. The national republican party will only spend money to make Clinton look bad. I'm not a huge Clinton fan, but her winning re-election is as much of a lock Orin Hatch in Utah.

Posted by: Matt Townsend at August 11, 2005 01:29 AM

I agree with your assessments regarding Hannity and Morris' arguments. I believe you are correct, Pirro (or maybe we should call her "Jeanine") will likely be on Fox News quite a bit over the next year for some cushy softball interviews, and that will help her name recognition. Republicans around the country are already on their 5th year of their 6-8 year campaign against Sen. Clinton- their first objective is to try and get her out of the Senate, and their second is to keep her out of the White House.

Obviously if the first is a success, the second will become basically moot unless for some reason Sen. Clinton begans to face a close race and decides to drop out just to protect her presidential ambitions. I am not sure that this would help her, but it is a possible option for her. I think this is why Pataki decided not to run for re-election as governor; his prospects for relection were grim and a gubernatorial loss would all but eliminate him from being a contender for the '08 nod.

Anyhow, as I said, Jeanine's face time on Fox and other networks will give her name recogntion, just as Rick Lazio had it after a while in the 2000 race. And of course that is going to narrow the gap. The race will narrow, but barring any huge bombshells, Sen. Clinton will probably end up with a double digit win just as she did against Lazio.

Morris seems to forget that Bill Clinton, a man for which he worked, faced this same problem when running for re-election in 1990. Folks in Arkansas feared Bill would run for president in 1992, so with the usual charm he vowed to them he would not. A year later he asked the people of Arkansas if they would release him from his promise and allow him to run, and they did. Sen. Clinton could try this tactic and I was actually surprised that Morris did not comment on this prospect.

Posted by: Jason at August 11, 2005 01:33 AM

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