• ROVE: Not yet, but I am a little bit -- you know, I don't understand what he was doing there. The role of the White House is to sort of, you know, sound an optimistic note. He -- you know, he didn't need to say, We could lose the House. He...

    VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) candid!

    ROVE: Well, but you know, look, you've got to be candid, but you've also, you know, got to stop short of creating problems for your own party. If he had simply started out saying, Look, there are going to be a lot of seats up for play, but I'm confident, with the right message and strong campaigns, we'll prevail...

    VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what he went on to say is he says, Do you want to put in a leader -- in the speakership of the House a guy who thinks that the financial calamity is tantamount to an ant. The guy who's the ranking member of Energy and Commerce Committee, Joe Barton, started his congressional testimony with the CEO of BP by apologizing.

    So I mean, he does go on the attack then.

    ROVE: Yes, but I'm not certain how high the visibility is of either Barton or Boehner that they can be made into -- you know, into, you know, devil figures between now and November 2nd. I mean, this is not -- I saw some commentary that said sort of this is like 1940, when Franklin Roosevelt went on the attack against Barton, Martin and Fisch (ph), three very high-profile, prominent Republicans, and made them a part of the campaign.

    I don't think that either Boehner or Barton can be made into the bugaboos that the White House seemingly thinks they are.

    VAN SUSTEREN: So how -- I mean, so I guess go back to the issue of jobs? Is that how the Democrats turn this around, they've got to find a lot of jobs between now and November?

    ROVE: Yes, I don't -- I'm not certain they can turn it around by emphasizing (INAUDIBLE) I think they're in better shape if they do talk about the economy because they can at least say, We tried to do things and here's what we've tried to do. But look, the only way to salvation for them was outlined a few days ago by Paul Begala, in which he said, This is not a hope election, this is a fear election, and we the Democrats have got to make the American people fear the Republicans.

    VAN SUSTEREN: What happened to hope and change? I mean, that was -- I mean, that so undermines the whole sort of -- the Democratic campaign of...

    ROVE: Well...

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... just a year-and-half ago.

    ROVE: Look, hope and change went out the window about January 21st of last year. If you remember, they made no effort to sit down with the Republicans and draw them in on the -- on the stimulus bill. They made no effort to sit down and draw the Republicans in on -- on energy last year. They made little effort, only in the Senate, a small effort to bring the Republicans in on health care, and even then, it was the White House and House Democrats who then said, in essence, We're not going to be bound by whatever happens in the Senate Finance Committee. So look, that -- that whole schtick about, We're -- we're not red states, blue states, we're United States -- that went out the window very early in this administration.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Well -- but -- OK, so if -- if Gibbs is right and if they lose the House, they're in deep trouble in terms of their legislative program from now until '12.

    ROVE: Well, even if they don't lose the House, if it -- if it narrows appreciably, which it will, they're in deep trouble. Remember, they only passed some of these major bills by 5 and 6 votes. What happens if they lose 30 or 35 or 37 or 38 seats, short of the 39 that the Republicans would need to take control of the House?

    VAN SUSTEREN: There's a logjam.

    ROVE: It's -- well, it's -- no, they're going to be forced to either go to the middle and start dealing with the Republicans or simply run up against the wall.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Which may help them, though.

    ROVE: Well, but...

    VAN SUSTEREN: That may help them.

    ROVE: It helped Bill Clinton get reelected. But I don't think Barack Obama is Bill Clinton. I don't think he's got Clinton's political abilities, nor his centrist sensibilities. I think the bigger problem for the Democrats if they lose the House is not the agenda because I think, frankly, the agenda is gone. Given what -- if they lose the normal number of seats, 24 sets since World War II in the House, four seats in the Senate, it's very hard for them to push this hard-left agenda.

    I think the real problem for them is if they lose the House is that now people start to get -- get the ability to ask tough questions. You get Lamar Smith to chair the House Judiciary Committee and he asks tough questions about, Why did you do what you did on the -- on the -- on the lawsuit -- voter intimidation lawsuit in Pennsylvania? The House Commerce Committee chairman gets to be able to call in Berwick and say, Now, what is it that you meant when you said you were in favor of rationing? So the tough questions begin to get asked.

    VAN SUSTEREN: All right, over the weekend, Speaker Gingrich (INAUDIBLE) we wonder whether he's going to run in 2012 or not. He got a little bit closer. He talked to the Associated Press and said that he was thinking about it or that he might make a decision after the mid-terms. Could he -- could he make it? Could he be the nominee?

    ROVE: Well, it all depends. It's very early to try and forecast what's going to happen when we get into the heat of the 2012 campaign. We got several geological ages...

    VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what...

    ROVE: And I think he was very smart to downplay it and say, Look, I'm focused on helping people in the 2010 election and I'll make a decision in 2011. I think we're going to have, ironically enough, a very long contest in 2011, 2012. That is to say, candidates are going to get in early. Emotion and heat is going to be started to be generated relatively early. We're going to have a long period of time during which they campaign. But I think this race is going to coalesce, as the Democrat race did in 2007, late in the game, that is to say just before people started voting in early 2008 in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    VAN SUSTEREN: All right, 20 seconds. His strength and his weakness going into getting the nomination?

    ROVE: He has vision, and there's a question of his discipline. When he was Speaker of the House, he had the vision to -- as a Republican leader, to get us into the majority and the vision to sort of give people the big picture to go after. The question was sometimes whether -- how consistent he was in keeping people focused on those -- on that vision.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, thank you.

    ROVE: You bet.