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Karl Rove on Super Tuesday II; McCain vs. Obama

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 27, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Welcome to Hannity and Colmes. We get right to our top story tonight. The final debate is over and most observers felt today that Hillary Clinton did not do enough to change the dynamic in last night's debate. Translation, the Clintons could be through. Meanwhile, on the campaign trail today, Barack Obama started acting like the nominee, getting into a war of words with Senator John McCain. We'll play you that tape in just a few minutes. And we have complete coverage of the presidential race tonight, including another Frank Luntz focus group in a few minutes. But we start tonight with the man they call the architect; Fox News contributor — he will be with us Tuesday night for Super Tuesday Two. Karl Rove is back with us. Karl, welcome aboard.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Great to see you.

Watch The Architect's expert analysis: Part 1 I Part 2

HANNITY: We're going to get into this debate later in the program. I noticed on Atlantic.com that — about the use of Barack Obama's middle name. You have warned strongly against using it, saying that the use of that full name would perpetuate the notion that Republicans are bigoted and would hurt the party. Can you explain that?

ROVE: I think it is unnecessary. If people use it in order to imply something about Obama that is simply not true. It used to indicate either that he is a Muslim or that he is somehow tied in with Mid-Eastern terrorists, neither of which is true. I think it is a diversion, and gives him an easy chance to be a victim, and gives the media a very easy chance to beat up on Republicans. We're better off not doing it.

HANNITY: We will have the debate fully later on in the program. But I wanted to get you on record because I noticed that you discussed that. We have a big primary coming up on Tuesday. Bill Clinton even admits that Texas, in particular, is a must-win for Hillary. Most observers think she has to win Texas and Ohio. You know Texas better than anybody. As you analyze her position — She has lost 24 contests to 11. She's losing the popular vote by a million votes. Can she come back against Barack?

ROVE: She could. I am not sure she will. If I were betting today, I would suggest that she probably will win Ohio. She might win Texas narrowly. Even if she wins Texas narrowly, the delegate rules are set up in such a way she is likely to get a minority of the delegates, and that would not bode well for the outcome of the contest.

HANNITY: Texas Republicans and independents have an opportunity to cross over and they can vote in the Democratic contest. First they have a primary and then at 7:00, just to remind our audience, they also — people that voted in the primary can caucus. You call it the Texas Two-Step. There are Republicans that think, maybe it's better that we get involved in this and maybe we help save Hillary Clinton's career and campaign here, and vote for Hillary, with the thinking that she is the weaker candidate. What do you think?

ROVE: I think some will cross over, but not a lot. In Texas, we don't have party registration. You're designated a party member by the primary you participate in. So you can go into the Republican primary or the Democratic primary, doesn't matter, pick one and go vote. I think there is likely to be only a small number of Republicans who enter into the Democratic caucus or Democratic primary.

HANNITY: Let me ask you — First of all, there's an "L.A. Times" and Bloomberg poll out that shows that John McCain would beat either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. He is doing pretty well in the polls at this early stage. Finally, in spite of all the fainting and Obama-mania that's going on out there, seems to be scrutiny he has not received before. It has been revealed that his church gave a prominent award to Louis Farrakhan, that he had a meeting with this guy in the Weather underground that admits to bombing a police headquarters and our Pentagon, and that his own spokesman says has a friendly relationship, just yesterday. And then we had this exchange last night in the debate. Let's roll the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. I think they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can't censure him. But it is not support that I sought and we are not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: When you add that to the comments of his wife about the first time in my life, I am proud to be an American, the use of the word white oppressor in her thesis. Do you think the people are going to respond negatively to all of this?

ROVE: Well, what I thought was interesting about his comments about Farrakhan was how narrow he made them. His comment was he disagreed with Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. Farrakhan's made a lot more comments besides his very virulent anti-Semitic comments. He has made very racist comments about whites and about the black-white relationships in the United States. And I frankly think he ought to be dismissive of Farrakhan in his totality, not simply –

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Actually, Karl, he has. In fact, welcome back to our show. Karl, it's Alan. Thank you for being here tonight. Not just the debate last night, but speaking to a group of Jewish leaders in Cleveland last week, he said, I have been a consistent denunciator of Louis Farrakhan. Nobody challenges that. And that the award given for his, for example, on behalf of ex-offenders, unrelated to his controversial statements. He talked about his minister doing things with the community, but that he personally repudiated him and could not control, he said last night at the debate, who endorses him. He can't censure endorsements. I don't know what more he has to say to get people off his back about Louis Farrakhan.

ROVE: Look, Alan, let me tell you, he could be that strong in his comments last night. Last night's comments were weak. He should have said, I disavow Minister Farrakhan. I do not believe that he represents my views and the views of our country as we want to have it. He is anti- Semitic. He is racist. His comments run down America. His identification with dictators around the world. His comments that belittle our country and its values are simply reprehensible, and I disassociate myself with them in their totality. Instead, it was a very narrow, I don't like his anti-Semitic comments. There's more bad things about Minister Farrakhan. That is bad enough, but there is a heck of a lot more bad about Minister Farrakhan besides that.

COLMES: That could be true. I think you are ignoring so much of what he said, not just last night, but also what he said to a Jews group last week. He went on to say –

(CROSS TALK)

COLMES: I don't know what more he has to say without being beaten up.

ROVE: Alan, I am just asking for consistency. If he was that tough last week, he should have been that tough last night. And he wasn't. Look, with all due respect, he is a very left-wing Democrat. He came out of a very radical background in organizing. His record in the Senate is the most liberal, according to the "National Journal." He has been a conventional far-left Democrat. And we ought to recognize that. As a result, he has these associations and these people he has been comfortable being with who are not in mainstream America. Look, after 9/11, when he said true patriotism did not consist of wearing a lapel pin - - an American flag lapel pin on your lapel, but instead speaking out on the issues, he was basically, with the back of his hand, being very dismissive to millions of Americans who thought it was a patriotic act to put a flag pin on their lapel.

COLMES: Does he lack patriotism because he does not wear a lapel pan? Is he basically saying, patriotism isn't about a pin? That is his point of view.

ROVE: Alan, I didn't say that. What he said was that people — he was implicating that people who did wear a flag on the lapel were not true patriots. My point is not — in America, you get to decide whether you want to wear a flag lapel pin or not. What he did though was say, it was true patriotism to speak out on the issue, not to wear a flag lapel pen. He was the one questioning the patriotism of people with flags on their lapels.

COLMES: I didn't get that from what he said. What I got –

ROVE: Read the statement carefully. He said, true patriotism — quote, true patriotism consisted of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin.

COLMES: He wasn't questioning people who wore it. He was questioning the war.

ROVE: No, he was questioning the patriotism of those who did put a flag on their lapel. Admit it. I'm not questioning his patriotism. But he certainly questioned the patriotism of millions of people who felt the simple gesture of putting the flag on their lapel was a patriotic act, and it was.

COLMES: We'll come right back with more with Karl Rove after the break. Still to come tonight, does the media have its darling when it comes to a presidential candidate? Hillary Clinton seems to think so and has plenty to say about that, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: I am told that Senator Obama made the statement that if al Qaeda came back to Iraq after he withdraws — after the American troops are withdrawn, then he would send military troops back if al Qaeda established a base in Iraq. I have some news; al Qaeda is in Iraq.

OBAMA: I have some news for John McCain. And that is that there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLMES: That was Barack Obama and John McCain gearing for what many are expecting to be a general election dog fight. We now continue with former Bush adviser Karl Rove. Does Obama not have a point? Iraq is now invaded by al Qaeda because the borders were porous. We didn't protect the borders when we went in there. And the al Qaeda in Iraq is not the same that was in Afghanistan, but re-branded itself that way to align itself with that al Qaeda?

ROVE: Alan, you are wrong. Al Qaeda in Iraq was organized by Zarqawi, one of the top deputies of Osama bin Laden, who was sent from Afghanistan in the aftermath of the fall of the Taliban to Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq pledges its allegiance to Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri his number two. And the operational control, day to day, is in Iraq, but the strategic control and the big decisions are by their top leadership. Al Qaeda is in Iraq. They came there because they understand the importance of defeating the west in Iraq and stopping the formation of a Democratic Iraq that would be an ally in the war on terror.

COLMES: It has been reported that they took that name because they wanted the association. But also, how did they get in there? Did we not do a good enough job protecting the borders to allow al Qaeda to invade or get into the country after we went and did an occupation?

ROVE: It has very porous borders. As you know, at least two of the borders with Syria and Iran are borders with enemies, or adversaries of the United States, who are encouraging the threat to the United States in Iraq. Now you can be critical of the ability of the Iraqis and the Americans and our coalition partners to secure the border, but that adds to the necessity of us defeating al Qaeda in Iraq, not add to the argument that Senator Obama was making, which was, as long as al Qaeda is there, get out. Incidentally, I want to make one political point about this, not just a policy point about this. There is a deficit emerging here, a deficit for Obama. We have heard recently about the Obama-kins, the Republicans for Obama. And I would like to point out the McCain-a-crats, the Democrats who are for McCain, outnumber the Republicans for Obama by almost a two to one margin. Here are the three most recent polls. As you can see, in the Fox poll, by a margin of 79 to 12, Republicans support McCain. In the Gallup, 87 to nine they support McCain over Obama. And then in "LA Times" poll, 79 to 12. Obama does not have similar levels of support among Democrats. He is leading, for example, against McCain in the Fox poll by 74-19, in Gallup 79-17 and in the "L.A. Times" by 75 points.

COLMES: As long as you are bringing that up, let me just ask you, McCain said the other day, he has to defend the war and the Bush policies to get elected. How is that going to sit with the American people who pretty much don't agree with that?

ROVE: The question is do the American people want to win or do they want to lose? That will end up being the start question here. We are succeeding with the surge, a surge that was opposed by Senator Obama and supported by Senator McCain. And at the end of the day, the question the American people are going to have to answer is: do we want to stay and fight and win and create an ally in the war on terror, or do we want to leave and run the risk of seeing the Middle East plunge into a conflict that would be absolutely dreadful? That is a big question. This election is not going to be about little small things. It's going to be about big things. That's one of the biggest.

HANNITY: Karl, I want to stay on what you are showing there on your blackboard just for a second, because this is really important. And by the way, I love the blackboard, by the way. We learned through the Hillary campaign how not to run against Barack Obama. That is throw the kitchen sink at him and the constant attacking of him. It raises the question, with your background and your experience, if you could advise Senator McCain on how to run this campaign and defeat Barack Obama, what would you advise him? How should he run the campaign?

ROVE: First of all, he, Senator McCain, needs to introduce himself to the American people, because we don't know much about him, except if you live in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. So he needs to introduce himself on a personal level here to the American people. Second of all, he needs to stay strong in his defense of the Iraq war and the necessity for victory. And third, he needs to engage on domestic issues in a powerful and persuasive way, earlier rather than later. With regard to Senator Obama, I think he has to treat Senator Obama's words with great seriousness, and he has to start by holding him to account for the gap between his words and the reality. Senator Obama, for example, talks about the need for — to bring Republicans and Democrats together. And yet he has done nothing since he arrived in the United States Senate to do so. He has voted on the short end — when Republicans and Democrats have came together, one of the Democrats who didn't come together was Obama. And the second thing is, remember last Tuesday in Wisconsin, he said - - or two weeks ago now, 10 days ago. He said that there are important issues facing America, like creating jobs, and fixing our schools, and creating a stronger health care system that required leadership and energy. Well, he had three years in the United States Senate and there is no great issue facing America that has his fingerprints on it. He has not provided the leadership. You can't say either of those things about John McCain. He has been a bipartisan leader and he has taken on a lot of very high profile, high- stakes issues in the Congress, won some of them and lost some of them.

HANNITY: We are almost out of time. Do you think this rock star, fainting, I guess, period that he has gone through, do you think that comes to an end shortly? We only have a few seconds?

ROVE: I think so. Look, now he gets real scrutiny. He is no longer up against Hillary Clinton. Look, a lot of this, I think, is the desire of ordinary Democrats not to have Hillary Clinton as their nominee. And I think that's helped him a lot in this enthusiastic burst he has had.

HANNITY: Karl Rove, the architect. We'll see you on a special edition Sunday night in the lead-up to Super Tuesday Two. We look forward to seeing you Sunday night. Thank you, Karl.

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