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TV interview
Alan Keyes on Scarborough Country (MSNBC)
August 17, 2004

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: My next guest is Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations [Economic and Social Council], he's a former presidential candidate. Now he's running against Barack Obama in the race for the U.S. Senate in Illinois. Earlier I asked him why the U.S. Senate, why Illinois, and why now.

[begin taped interview]

ALAN KEYES: The Illinois state party asked me to come in. They felt I could help out in what was, at one level, a serious crisis--the candidate that had won the primaries had withdrawn--but also a serious opportunity, because, given what Barack Obama represents, both in terms of his stances and in terms of what the Democrat Party appears to be trying to make of him, they needed someone who had a certain unique combination of capabilities and a national base and reputation, and so they turned to me.

It posed a problem for me at one level, but I think at the end of the day, I felt like the principles that I care about are at stake in this election, and that I really had a moral obligation to answer the call of the people of this state to come and help defend those principles.

SCARBOROUGH: Now, you have talked about some of the stands that Barack Obama had. What are some of those positions that cause you concern?

KEYES: Well, I think the most important one is that, on the deepest issue of principle--the one that I have often articulated in my life, in my political career, which I believe involves the great fundamental principle of American life, that we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights--he has taken the most extremist stand possible on the abortion issue. He is unlike even some of his Democrat colleagues. He has actually said that the heinous practice of live birth abortion should be allowed to go ahead.

And that's different, by the way, than partial birth. You remember, we had a big debate and a bill was passed and all that. No. Live birth is when, during an abortion procedure, the baby is actually born alive and they then just set it aside like garbage and let it die.

Even in the Senate of the United States, the vote was 98-0 against that procedure. Some of the most hardcore pro-abortion Senators did not countenance this procedure, and yet, this man was willing to accept it, showing his deep commitment and utter rejection of the fundamental principles of our Declaration and his willingness to countenance the application of that rejection, even in the most extreme case.

It was really, I think, something that arrested my attention and got me involved.

SCARBOROUGH: Alan Keyes, when did he say he would support a procedure like that, where you would set aside a live baby and let it die?

KEYES: Well, there was a vote in May 2002, as I recall, somewhere in that vicinity, in the Illinois legislature, in which there was a bill to stop this procedure--and he voted against it.

SCARBOROUGH: All right. We're going to ask him to come on this show. I want to talk to him, and we'll certainly ask him about that.

I want to ask you, though, about you said in 2000. I'm sure you've seen this quote many times. This is what you had to say, though, about Hillary Clinton's run for the U.S. Senate seat from New York, you said, quote, "I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton's willingness to go into a state she doesn't even live in and pretend to represent people there, so I certainly wouldn't imitate it."

And yet, it seems that you are doing exactly that right now, imitating what Hillary Clinton did in New York. What's the difference?

KEYES: Quite the contrary. Hillary Clinton pursued an agenda of clear personal ambition. She fished around among the different states in the union, decided which state would be the best object of her personal ambitions, fomented interest in that state for the sake of her personal agenda. She was a sitting First Lady at the time, so there was even some overtones of intimidation involved in all of that, and she simply used and abused the state as a platform of her personal ambition.

Quite the contrary, I had no thought whatsoever of running for the U.S. Senate in the State of Illinois. I have been called in by a decision of the people in Illinois who say that they need my help. That's their choice, and that respects the sovereignty of the people because they have made the determination that they need outside help.

It also respects my own principles, because I am a strong believer in federalism, but as the Illinois motto indicates, there are two components of federalism: state sovereignty and national union. And Lincoln's statesmanship, the man who came from Illinois and obviously fought on behalf of keeping our union on the foundation of the Declaration principles that were at stake in the Civil War, he obviously set the example that when the national principles of our union are at stake, state sovereignty can take second place, and you stand up to defend those principles of our united integrity as a people. And that's what's at stake in this election in Illinois.

SCARBOROUGH: As you know, Alan, a lot of people listening to you tonight would ask the question, if Hillary Clinton's decision did violence to federalism, it doesn't really matter why Hillary Clinton was motivated to do what she did. You still had an Illinois native running in New York. What is the difference regarding federalism?

KEYES: I just explained it. The federalism principle, as clearly articulated, even in the motto of the State of Illinois, federalism has two components: state sovereignty and national union. When the principles of national union are threatened with assault and damage, you step forward to defend them, even if that means putting the issue of state sovereignty in second place--and Lincoln was the person who clearly demonstrated that.

So, I am actually acting right now in defense of federalism, because if Barack Obama is allowed to succeed, we will have somebody representing the state of Lincoln who deeply rejects the principles of national union stated in the Declaration, beginning with the principle that we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. He rejects that principle, and that endangers the claim to rights and the basis of all our institutions.

SCARBOROUGH: All right. Now let's read--I want to read what for you what Mary Mitchell had to say, of the Chicago Sun-Times. She said this about your candidacy: "In drafting Keyes, the Illinois Republican Party has reduced the political race to a show. Whoever runs against Obama would be a sacrificial lamb for the party, so what happened to all the white lambs? Why aren't they being sacrificed? If Keyes were not black, the Republican Party wouldn't be sending him a one-way ticket to Illinois."

Is this all about race?

KEYES: Frankly, I don't feel any disposition to answer the stupid and cynical remarks of some columnist. She's not involved in this race, and I am not running against her. That's the first thing.

Second, I think Barack Obama and everybody in the state of Illinois has by now in the past week learned that this race is a serious challenge, first, to his rejection of the Declaration principles, and second, to his extremism and the phony hype that has built him up into something that I think he's not. You know, he was a big, blustering bragger, comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas when Jack Ryan was his opponent, promising six debates to the people of Illinois. I hadn't been in the race for 24 hours when he stood forward to say, "Oh, no. Only two," and was running for the exists as fast as possible.

The fact that somebody can give a set piece speech at the Democrat National Convention that the media hypes up without regard to its real substance doesn't mean he has what it takes truly to represent the people of Illinois in the toughest political forum in American politics, short of presidential politics.

SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks so much, Alan Keyes, for talking to us. We've invited his opponent, Barack Obama, to come on this show, and we hope he'll come here. We're going to follow up on that and that race closely.

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