This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 9, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL AYERS, FORMER MEMBER OF WEATHER UNDERGROUND: I was trying to go to sleep, flipping through channels real quick, and Hannity said, "Stay tuned. John McCain and I will talk about William Ayers."
And I said, "Damn!" I had to stay tuned for an hour.
And — and Hannity said to McCain, "What do you think about this professor, this tenured professor who did this stuff?"
And McCain took the high road. He said, "Let's just let bygones be bygones. Let's not beat up on everything. Let's just move on."
People say, "Do you regret anything you did against the government in those days?"
And my answer is, "No, I don't."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: That was former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, speaking recently at the University of North Dakota about his past terrorist activity and, of course, our own Sean Hannity. Barack Obama has come under fire for his ties to Ayers, and critics are calling him to repudiate the relationship.
Joining us now, FOX News contributor, former Bush advisor Karl Rove.
Karl, is this — I see Barack coming up in the polls against Hillary Clinton, even in Pennsylvania. Is this truly an issue for Barack Obama?
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think first we need to understand what his relationship is. They've talked about — there's been talk in the past about friendship. They made speeches together. He was a supporter of him in his race for the state senate. It would be interesting to know, further, how close the links are.
But, look, both Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn, were violent extremists in the 1970s who, as you saw today, are still unrepentant about their bombings of U.S. government facilities and police stations and so forth.
So it's a little troubling if there is a relationship here. Let's see how deep and how broad the relationship was.
COLMES: As it turns out Barack Obama was, I think, 8-years-old at the time of those bombings. Ayers and Obama served together on a nine-member board of the Woods Fund for three years. They appeared jointly on two academic panels: one in '97, and one in 2001. You know, their kids, I think, attended some of the same schools.
Is that enough to indict Barack Obama on Bill Ayers?
ROVE: Well, I also understand they were associates, that he was a political supporter of his. But, look, I think the first thing is find out what kind of relationship they actually had. Let's hear from the Obama camp, and let's hear from Ayers about the kind of relationship they had.
But look, it's not — the point that you started with, that Obama was only 8-years-old when this man committed these violent acts. Well, he was an adult and might have had a relationship with him. Let's see if there is a relationship that continues to this day and see how close it is.
The fact that Obama was 8-years-old doesn't excuse Professor Ayers from the violent acts and the hatred he had for our country in the 1970s and apparently is unrepentant about today.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Karl, it's Sean.
I have found two University of Chicago press releases, one in '97 and one in 2002. The Politico did ask David Axelrod of the Obama campaign about the relationship, and his quote is, quote, "They are certainly friendly." That's earlier in the campaign.
September 11, 2001, of all days, Ayers is quoted as saying, "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough." And we're talking about bombing New York City police headquarters, the Capitol, the Pentagon.
How could you say you're friendly with an unrepentant terrorist?
ROVE: Well, again, let's see what the relationship is, but it is troubling. There's enough here that there are questions that need to be answered. Senator Obama ought to say in a more formal way what was his relationship was and whether or not he feels this — this is an appropriate sentiment.
Again, it's — it is troubling. Ayers and Dohrn were both violent, and they were dangerous. And they apparently attempted to inflict, you know, mayhem, and you know, they didn't care. And...this really...
HANNITY: Well, the philosophy — because they declared war against the United States. And the philosophy was — the Weathermen philosophy was kill all the rich people. Ayers summed — these are Ayers' words: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home. Kill your parents. That's where it's really at."
And he's unrepentant.
ROVE: Right, well, and they attacked — they attacked, as I recall, police facilities, military facilities, U.S. government buildings. And they did so in a manner without apparent regard for human life.
ROVE: I mean, I think — I don't recall that people were killed or injured, but that was not the — that wasn't the intention. They wanted to create violence and blow things up.
HANNITY: Karl, I first interviewed Jeremiah Wright in March of 2007. And I stayed on the issue. And it took almost a year for the mainstream media to pick up on the story, and it became a big story.
Do you believe at some point somebody in the mainstream media is going to examine this relationship that Barack Obama's campaign claims is friendly?
ROVE: Well, look, it may take the same thing with Ayers that it took with Wright, which was we live in a culture of the visual. And you talked about it, and you talked about it on TV.
But what really gave it power and force was when people actually could see the footage of Reverend Wright speaking from the pulpit, saying these ugly things. And once that happened, it caught fire.
So the question is: are there ways to find out the relationship between Ayers and Obama that are visual that give it power and force?
He gave you a little bit of it tonight. Why he went out to North Dakota and invoked your name when he knew it would — it stood a good chance, in the YouTube era, of popping up on somebody's cell phone or video camera and making its way onto the — onto the Internet and onto cable, I don't know why. It's not a good move on his part if he wants this issue to die away.
HANNITY: Karl, and I would say to William Ayers, if you're not sleeping again tonight, and you're stuck watching little old Sean Hannity, come on the program and explain your philosophy, and why you're unrepentant and why you don't regret the things that you did and the bombings you say you've participated in, in your memoirs.
Do you — are you ultimately convinced — we only have a minute left in this segment — that Barack Obama has this nomination, Karl?
ROVE: Look, I want to resist saying that Clinton is out of it. It's a very steep hill to climb. She needs to just over get 60.5 percent of the delegates. The polls are tightening in Pennsylvania. Let's see if that remains the case up through the election. There was a poll late today, I understand, that showed a wide margin for her in the state.
But look, it's not impossible, and all kinds of things that have been improbable have happened in this campaign. But it's very, very difficult for her to do it.
HANNITY: All right, we're going to take a break.
HANNITY: And we continue now with the Architect, Karl Rove.
All right. I interviewed Senator McCain earlier today. We had a full hour with him here on the FOX News Channel, Karl. He seems to really be courting conservatives, promising no new taxes, extend the Bush tax cuts, stay on offense on the war on terror, secure the borders but not McCain- Kennedy, conservative justices, ending all earmarks, all conservative positions. Is that going to work?
ROVE: Yes, look, it's already worked. Conservatives are behind him. The question is their degree of enthusiasm. (AUDIO GAP). They have them enthusiastically manning the telephones, talking to their neighbors, encouraging their family to vote and so forth.
COLMES: Karl, we've only got a second left here. Are the issues in this election going to be the economy and the war, how people feel about their paycheck, and whether they're getting enough money in their pocket? Or is it going to be about who Barack Obama, if he is the nominee, went to church with and who he may have known back in Chicago?
ROVE: It's going to be both. It's going to be both. Elections are both about issues and character. And Senator Obama's association with, for example, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, is going to be an issue in the campaign. No doubt about it.
COLMES: Which supercedes which?
ROVE: Well, they don't supercede each other. People make decisions in a very complicated way, and things like their — their values and jobs and the war and character all matter.
COLMES: All right, Karl. WE thank you for doing "Hannity & Colmes" tonight. Thanks for making it in.
ROVE: Absolutely. You bet.
COLMES: We appreciate your time.
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