Former Bush Adviser Karl Rove on How Results of Ind., N.C. Primaries Will Impact the Democratic Race

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," May 5, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: I'm Alan Colmes. Sean is reporting tonight from our bureau in Washington, D.C. Good evening, Sean. We get right to our top story tonight.

The next big showdown between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton less than 24 hours away. Tomorrow voters go to the polls in North Carolina and Indiana, and all indications are that we could be headed for a split of the two states possibly prolonging the contest for the Democratic nomination once again.

Joining us now with analysis, FOX News contributor Karl Rove.

Karl, good to see you here in person.

Watch Part 1 of our interview with Karl Rove

Watch Part 2 of our interview with Karl Rove

ROVE: Good to be here, Alan. Thank you and welcome, as you say. Thank you and welcome to the "Colmes & Rove" show."

COLMES: Look, you've had that made up.

ROVE: Well, actually, you told me to make it up. And it's a very generous offer clear and but, look, I think it ought to remain "Hannity & Colmes. "

COLMES: I know. But you wanted it "Rove & Colmes."

Anyway, welcome back to our show. Let me ask you about the polls. CBS poll — The New York Times poll with the CBS together showing Obama rebounding, leading McCain 51-40. The USA Today is saying, however, that he's not rebounding.

So what poll are we to believe?

ROVE: We ought to take all of these polls with a little bit of skepticism. We endow them with a false scientific precision. For example, CBS/"New York Times" poll that you mentioned, on the 29th of April it had it at 45 — Obama 45-McCain, and then on the 4th of May it had 51 for Obama, 41 for McCain.

Does anybody think that 13 percent growth in Obama in one week and a 9 percent decline in McCain in one week?

COLMES: So where do you look to get the information that really tells you which way things are trending?

ROVE: Well, first of all, I think you ought to take a look at as many polls as you can. I think the Real Clear Politics does a good job by aggregating every single.

COLMES: And averaging.

ROVE: Yes, and average. It tends to — it tends not to show recent movement, but it gives you a better sense of where the race might be.

COLMES: So where does that tell us things are right now?

ROVE: Well, and the other one is to take a look at the Gallup daily tracking poll, because that has 4,000 sample over a five-day, and it tends to get rid of all the sort of background noise, and I think that has McCain at 47 and Obama at 43.

But I mean, look, we are six months from the election. There will be several geological ages coming past, and we ought to be careful about getting addicted to too many of these polls.

COLMES: One other question is whether or not this Wright story has hurt Barack Obama, 18 percent, according to the "CBS/New York Times" poll say it makes them less likely to vote for him, but those are mostly Republicans. So they may not be voting that way anyway.

ROVE: Yes.

COLMES: So the question is, has this really hurt him?

ROVE: Well, we don't know, but we do know a couple of things. We don't know with precision whether it actually has or not, but we do know his negatives have risen. We do know that his ballot position vis-a-vis McCain has deteriorated since the Wright episode begin, and we do know the Democrats are willing to admit that it's a large issue. Fifty-one percent, and I believe it was in the USA Today poll, said that 51 percent of Clintons supporters said it was a legitimate issue, 85 percent of Obama supporters did not agree it was legitimate issue.

But this is — polling, again, is very difficult to get at the precise impact of these kinds of things, particularly when this one is one that is more likely to affect the intensity of Republicans and the attitudes of independents, not the attitudes of...

COLMES: And what changes between now and November? And what we've seen now could change drastically once it's a two-person race, right?

ROVE: Sure, and it will. I mean we can count on it.

COLMES: Is it better for McCain to not have it be a two-person right now? And aren't those numbers going to tighten and then McCain's got more problems once we're focused on him versus whatever the Democrat is?

ROVE: Again, not everything in politics is an unalloyed good or an unalloyed bad. I'm frankly surprised McCain is in as good of shape as he is against either Clinton and Obama today, because he is so far out of the public mix. If you take a look at the Pew Charitable Trust content analysis — the last week for which they've got numbers, he had 17 percent of the stories mentioned him, 70 percent mentioned Hillary Clinton, and 63 mentioned — excuse me, 63 percent mentioned Hillary Clinton and 70 percent mentioned Obama. So nobody has paying attention to McCain and yet he's hanging in there, which is a pretty good sign.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, by the way, the — I'm out of town one day, and there you are, you're...

ROVE: I don't know. It was a nice offer. I don't think I'm going to take it up. I think it ought to remain "Hannity & Colmes. "

HANNITY: I got to tell you. It's pretty tough sitting there next to him every night. I want to warn you.

COLMES: He's suffering. Karl is suffering, there's no question about it.

HANNITY: Well, welcome back to the program. We appreciate it.

ROVE: Thank you.

HANNITY: Now this is all important. We got a lot going on here. Before we do anything else, we had a special election in Louisiana. Now this was a little bit frightening to a lot of Republicans, and I know Newt's been commenting about this. This was a district that President Bush carried by 19 percentage points in 2004, and it follows the loss in Speaker Hastert's district that had been held by Republicans for — 76 years but for the Watergate year.

Are you worried about this as a trend?

ROVE: I think it's a bad sign. You got to put it in context. We had a terrible candidate. Woody Jenkins is a wonderful person, but a lousy candidate. He lost two races for the United State Senate. The Democrats smartly put forward a very bright and very ambitious and very able state representative who fit the district like a glove, was a pro-life, pro-gun [candidate], and went out his way to say so, refused to endorse either Clinton or Obama publicly, distanced himself as far as he could from the national Democrats.

But you also then have the demographic in this district that this is a district has received more Katrina refugees from New Orleans than any other part of the country, and as a result, the demographics have changed pretty dramatically in the last couple of years.


ROVE: But no, it's not a good sign for Republicans. They ought to be very — the Democrats had a better candidate and the Republicans, even in a Republican-leaning district need to have good candidates in order to overcome the dynamic.

HANNITY: No, I agree with you, but it's something I think people ought to pay attention to it and be a little concerned about it here.

ROVE: Absolutely.

HANNITY: There was an article in the "Huffington Post" of all places today — not my favorite place to get news — but I thought it was pretty well-written. It was written by a guy by the — Tom Edsall, and he talks about, and this is something you have mentioned a lot, and that is the potential "nuclear" option, and that is that Hillary Clinton is so ambitious that she's going to try to seat these delegates from Michigan and Florida.

If she does this what do you think would be the result?

ROVE: Well, the option that he laid out is more a public relations gimmick than it is an answer for Clinton. What Tom suggested was that the Democrat Rules Committee would vote — dominated as the committee is, would vote to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations by changing the rules. Now this ultimately, though, has to still be resolved by the Credentials Committee, and the Credential Committee will not be friendly to Hillary Clinton.

The — there're 25 members of the committee who were appointed by Howard Dean, who are going to be Dean loyalists. The balance of the committee will be split in June among the presidential candidates based on the proportion of the delegates that they have at the time that the committee is seated.

So she'll have a minority of the members. The only way she would win is if the Howard Dean supporters or a significant number of Clinton — Obama delegates broke and went with her.

HANNITY: All right. We're going to take a — break. More with the "architect" Karl Rove coming up in mere moments.



ANNOUNCER: What's happened to Barack Obama?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now we're living paycheck to paycheck.

ANNOUNCER: He's attacking Hillary's plan to give you a break on gas prices because he doesn't have one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The price of gas going up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to fill up the tank.

UNIDENTIFIED AD VOICEOVER: Hillary wants the oil companies to pay for the gas tax this summer so you don't have to. Barack Obama wants you to keep paying, $8 billion in all.



UNIDENTIFIED AD VOICEOVER: And what does Hillary Clinton offer us? More of the same old negative politics. Her hometown newspaper says she's taking the low road. Her attacks do nothing but harm. The same old Washington politics won't fix our problems. We need honest answers and a president we can trust.


HANNITY: That was the latest round of attack ads by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Democratic candidates continue their negative back and forth with two huge primaries set for tomorrow, and that's Indiana and North Carolina. And we continue now with the architect, our good friend Karl Rove is with us.

Karl, I was watching Howard Dean, this weekend, and he actually made the case when you start bringing up things that have nothing to do with the candidate, nothing to do with the issues, talking about the Jeremiah Wright issue, that's "race baiting," he said.

Now, I went back April of 2007, The New York Times, you know, Barack Obama said that he fortified himself with sermons of Jeremiah Wright, that he was entranced by Wright, that he was a frequent churchgoer. I'm proud of my pastor. He's my spiritual mentor. How does he get away — what do you think Howard Dean's trying to do with the strategy of claiming it's race baiting?

ROVE: Well, look, we saw Senator Obama the other day on "FOX News Sunday" with Chris Wallace say that this was a legitimate issue, and for Howard Dean to go out now and accuse anybody who talks about it as being a racial bigot is a sign of how unhinged Howard Dean is and remains.

This is a concern that people have, and it's a legitimate concern. Why for 20 years were you a member of a church with somebody who's expressing views like this? These were not recent statements. Reverend Wright went to Libya in 1984 with Louis Farrakhan, he made the statement about chickens coming home to roost on September 16th, 2001, and he made the comment about AIDS and Africa no later than early 2005 and probably earlier.

So I mean these are legitimate questions. You knew this man was making controversial statements. Why did you continue to be a member of his church? Even Senator Obama admitted it was a legitimate issue, and senator — former Governor Dean should be ashamed of himself for those comments.

HANNITY: Yes, I think he should be, and he said Republicans are dark, dishonest, evil, corrupt, they can't get people of color in a room. But I want to follow...

ROVE: Well, and he attacked the personal integrity of John McCain saying he lacked integrity. I mean — look, he's a screamer and he just — we ought to be praying ...

HANNITY: Yes, we know that.

ROVE: .for the next six months for him to say these outrageous things.

HANNITY: He is. We have an update. We're going to get into this, Karl, in just the next segment here. But I want to give you a chance to update this. We've been following this story of this unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. Now we found another quote from him, and we also found a picture, found exclusively by FOX, and the quote is, that on one of his proudest achievements was living under ground for 10 years without getting arrested, and, "guilty as hell, free as a bird, it's a great country."

Now there's Bill Ayers, who said on 9/11, "I don't regret bombing the Pentagon, setting the bombs at the Capitol, New York City Police headquarters. There he is stomping on an American flag. Barack Obama says he's friendly with him. He sits on boards with him, and he gives speeches with him.

Do you think this will grow into a bigger issue in the campaign?

ROVE: It could. It depends upon the degree to which we come to understand their relationship. You know there have been some indications that when Senator Obama decided to run for his first political office, the Illinois state Senate, that he went to Mr. Ayers — or Dr. Ayers, Professor Ayers, and received his blessing in his introduction to the Hyde Park, you know, liberal community.

Now, we're going to need to see more of the relationship between the two before this gets to be an issue like Reverend Wright is.

COLMES: He's also worked with Daley, though, and Daley has praised him — Mayor Daley of Chicago. That hasn't hurt Mayor Daley. He seems to be part of the political structure in Chicago.

ROVE: Well, with all due respect to the mayor, whom I really have a great deal of respect for, being mayor of the city of Chicago is not running for president of the United States, and I — my suspicion is that if Mayor Daley had been introduced to the Chicago political community by Bill Ayers rather than by his father, we might have a different kind of perspective on him...

COLMES: There's no evidence that Mayor Daley has governed in any way having to do with the politics of Bill Ayers and no evidence that, you know, Barack Obama.

ROVE: Well.

COLMES: .would have anything to do with the views of Ayers or Jeremiah Wright as president.

ROVE: Well, interesting. The question is, did he think he was important enough to his political future that at the beginning of his political career the man whose endorsement he sought, whose introduction that he sought is — facilitated his "coming out," so to speak, in politics was William Ayers.

COLMES: So what would you do if you as the architect or architect — the architect of his campaign? How would you have him deal with Ayers and Wright that he hasn't already done?

ROVE: I'd get it all out about Ayers. It's going to come out. Get it all out now. And Wright, my advice remains the same that I've given all the — every time, and he hasn't paid any attention to it, so he's not going to pay any attention now, which is to say the best way for him to have handled Wright was right from the beginning to come out and say, you know what? I made a mistake. I sat there for 20 years. The spiritual fellowship that I enjoyed at Trinity Church blinded me to being associated with this man and I should have spoken out earlier, and the fact that I didn't is a mistake, and I recognize that.

And we'd all be applauding.

COLMES: And that would be it.

ROVE: That'd be it. That'd be it.

COLMES: What about Wright? I mean what about Ayers?

ROVE: Well, Ayers, I'd get it all out now. I'd get it all out now.

COLMES: What else might there be to get out?

ROVE: Well, what was the nature of the relationship? You know — did — we'll find out sooner or later how deep the relationship is. We know that they — that he sought his support, we know that he hosted an event for him, that Ayers hosted an event for him.

COLMES: And that they sat on boards, big deal. A Republican is on the board of the Woods Foundation as well. I mean if they happen to give speeches in the same venue, big deal.

ROVE: Let's — we need more - we need to know more about the relationship. What we've gotten thus far is a pattern of deception on the part of Senator Obama when it comes to these kind of relationships. He needs to be clear and come forward on this.

COLMES: There may be no more there.

ROVE: You'll notice, for example, that even his campaign manager acknowledged that he was friendly with Wright — with Ayers, and now they're mum about the whole relationship.

COLMES: Well, there may not be more to say. But we thank you...

ROVE: Great. Thanks for having me.

COLMES: ...Karl, for being with us tonight.

ROVE: You bet.

COLMES: Thanks for that sign. I'll put in on my scrapbook.

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