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On the March 13 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity falsely claimed that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) said during a March 13 speech that the recent "mugging of a 101-year-old should be blamed on the Bush administration's cuts for community policing programs." In fact, there is no indication that Clinton attributed the March 4 attack on a 101-year-old Queens, New York, woman to President Bush. As co-host Alan Colmes pointed out later in the program, Clinton noted the mugging as an example of why, she said, people are "feeling unsafe again in [their] communities" and highlighted the need to make "crime reduction a No. 1 objective" and "reinstate and fund the COPS [Community Oriented Policing Services] program."
Hannity made his comment about Clinton during a discussion with Republican strategist Mary Matalin and also cited a March 14 New York Daily News article on the incident that mentioned Clinton's speech. He went on to describe Clinton as "basically blaming Bush for cuts to community policing programs," which "le[d], you know, to this incident."
But contrary to Hannity's claim, Clinton did not indicate that the Bush administration's "cuts to community policing programs" led to the mugging. Following is the portion of Clinton's speech at the National League of Cities 2007 Annual Congressional City Conference during which she brought up the incident:
CLINTON: This is about not only the victims of crime and their families. It is about people feeling unsafe again in our communities; people who are afraid to let their kids go outside and play; seniors who lock themselves in afraid to go anywhere -- we had a horrible mugging the other day in New York City. A 101-year-old woman in her walker was attacked in an elevator [sic]. Now, she was pretty feisty, and she just showed great New York resilience and basically got the guy to run off because she was able to prevent him from taking advantage of her -- but that was on the front page of our papers.
Imagine how that makes every widow living alone, every older person, everybody -- we've got to go back to making crime reduction a No. 1 objective in our country and that means we've got to reinstate and fund the COPS program so we put more police on the streets.
In the Daily News article, Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said of Clinton's comments: "It's unfortunate that Hillary Clinton is trying to score cheap political points off the mugging of an elderly woman."
From the March 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Well, New York's junior senator is also making waves today with the claim that the mugging of a 101-year-old should be blamed on the Bush administration's cuts for community policing programs. Joining us now, former adviser to Vice President Cheney, Mary Matalin is with us.
You know, Mary, let me tell you --
MATALIN: It's silly season. I mean, there's just this -- all of today's above topics fall under silly season, don't they?
HANNITY: There are a lot of -- a lot of it does, but, you know, it's fascinating to me. No one can deny her husband is a masterful politician, I think. He's smooth. Whatever those gifts are, you know, everyone tells you that has met him, you're the only person that exists when you meet him. She's shrill. She's angry. She's reactive to Barack Obama. She can't seem to get her footing. Why not?
MATALIN: Well, she's not him, but that's cool, OK? I'm not James. You're not your wife. She has considerable political skills of her own, and they are mighty, believe me, and conservatives should not underestimate them.
What was odd about this burst was, it's not politically smart. If we know something or anything about this political environment, it's that people want -- they don't want that sort of political diatribe anymore, and they want to look forward. They want to turn the page. They want something fresh.
Her political liability right now is not that her skills are comparative to her husband's necessarily, but that she's not fresh. She's not the fresh thing. She's not the new thing. So, by bringing up these old, ancient, and the negative kind of politics that people eschew in this environment, it's just -- it's not smart politics. I don't understand it.
HANNITY: You know something, Mary? We're now at the stage where, you know, not only is Bush wrong on everything, he's responsible for anything that goes wrong. You know, Hillary's statement is quoted in the Daily News today, you know, basically blaming Bush for cuts to community policing programs leading, you know, to this incident.
COLMES: This Daily News article, I saw nothing in there that blamed Bush. What I read was that Hillary Clinton said that she can imagine how the mugging of a 100-year-old woman makes every older person make everybody feel, and she said we have to get back to making crime reduction a number-one objective. Help me understand where the president was blamed here, because I didn't see that.
MATALIN: Because, obviously implicit in that is that it's not been a key objective of this administration -- and it has been -- and there's been increased funding, and, indeed, the data shows that crime has gone down consistently over the five or six years that --
COLMES: She never said anything to the contrary.
MATALIN: With all that data --
COLMES: She said: "Let's help make crime reduction a number-one objective." And you're taking -- they're so sensitive in the Bush administration that, somehow, it's perceived that that's a slight against Bush.