Obama: Uncle Helped Liberate Auschwitz

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

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And welcome to "Hannity& Colmes." We're glad you're with us. I'm Sean Hannity. We get right to our "Top Story" tonight, and it is a developing controversy about Senator Barack Obama.

Over the weekend the senator spoke in New Mexico and made the following comments that have ignited a huge controversy in the blogosphere.


BRACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I had an uncle who was one of the — who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps. And the story in our family was that when he came home, he just went up into the attic and he didn't leave the house for six months.


HANNITY: But there are two problems. Now first, Obama didn't have an uncle. His mother was an only child to which the Obama campaign says the senator was actually speaking about his great uncle who served in the 89th Infantry Division.

Video: Watch Sean and Alan's interivew with Karl Rove on Obama's Holocaust gaffe

But even more glaring is the fact that U.S. troops did not liberate Auschwitz at all. The Red Army did in January of 1945. In fact, there is no record of U.S. troops there at all since Auschwitz was in Poland and remained behind the iron curtain after the war. Now to that point the Obama campaign says that the senator actually meant to say Buchenwald, which was liberated by U.S. troops in April of 1945.

So how come the media jumps all over Senator McCain when he misspeaks, but when Barack Obama does it, well, nobody seems to care?

Joining us now on this developing story, FOX News contributor, Karl Rove. And by the way, in just a few minutes, in a "Hannity & Colmes" exclusive, we've got some breaking news tonight, details about former White House press secretary Scott McLennan's new book has been leaked. And it does take a jab at the president and Karl Rove over the war and Katrina.

And Karl, we'll get to that in a minute. We'll get you to respond right here on "Hannity & Colmes." Welcome back, my friend.


HANNITY: All right.

ROVE: Thanks for having me.

HANNITY: We've got a series of, I guess, these gaffes, not the least of which, Karl, is what we heard about Auschwitz, but more importantly, you know, on one day he says that Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela are tiny countries and not a serious threat, and then the very next day he says Iran is a grave threat, and then there's a series of small things.

Is this now a new narrative emerging?

ROVE: Well, it will know at the passage of time. But look, we — this has been going on for a year and a half. Senator Obama says things that are either not true or he says them without doing his home work, and the media lets him get by with it. And they cut him slack that they wouldn't cut other people. And it's been going on for a while.

Whether it develops into a narrative by the fall that he doesn't do his home work, that he's evasive and slippery, that he gets things wrong and then takes too long to set things right, I don't know. We're a long way away from that happening, but it is interesting.


ROVE: And this has been going on for — as I say, a year and a half. You know his first appearance, for example, on "Meet the Press," he was asked about a statement in his book in which — in the book he says we progressives must demonstrate our fiscal responsibility by ending government spending programs that do not work, and Tim Russert asked him, well, give me one example, and the example that he gave him was electronic billing for Medicare and Medicaid.

He said if we did this, it would save hundreds of millions of dollars. The only problem is...


ROVE: ...is the government moved to that by 2003 four years before he appeared on television.

HANNITY: Well, you know, I — and you can bring us maybe inside the 2004 campaign better than anybody, but I was told that when you heard that John Kerry had said, I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it that, you know, lights went on and people thought this was going to be a big moment in the campaign.

Similarly, could this not be on the issue of Iran — Iran is not a serious threat on one day...

ROVE: Well — yes.

HANNITY: ...followed by Iran is a grave threat, and I've said that that throughout my entire professional career?

ROVE: Yes. Look, I think this is part of a bigger problem that he's got, bigger, frankly, than misplacing his great uncle, you know, by 500 miles. You know, Buchenwald is 500 miles away from Auschwitz on the other side of Germany from the center of Poland.

But I think there's a bigger problem, which is his inexperience on foreign affairs. This "Iran is not a threat" goes back to the statement that he made in the debate last year where he was asked by a questionnaire, would he go meet with the leaders of North Korea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and Cuba, without precondition, and he said yes.


ROVE: And so he was explaining that one of the reasons why we need to go meet with Iran and Syria was because, you know, we did — we met with the leaders of the Soviet Union, and they weren't as — they were a threat to us and these guys weren't.

HANNITY: Yes, look, I think some of these gaffes — and I've spoken a lot in public so I'm — maybe I'm more forgiving because I want people to forgive me.

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: You know I don't think it's a big deal when he says, you know, in Sunrise, Florida, hello, Sunshine, or when he's in Sioux Falls, he says Sioux City. Those things don't matter much to me.

ROVE: Yes, 57 states. And you know, you're right.

HANNITY: Yes, 57 states.

ROVE: When you run an exhausting campaign like this, you know, you can certainly give him a break.

HANNITY: What's a few states among friends. We are united anyway, right?

ROVE: Yes, right. Exactly.

HANNITY: But more recently, you know, we travel the comments — he makes comments about Hugo Chavez and about this Colombia terror group, and then he contradicts it again within...

ROVE: Right.

HANNITY: ...you know, a 24, 48-hour period.

ROVE: Well, again — and again, that's remarkable. He says, you know — he originally said I'm going to meet with Chavez, then he said, yes, I'm going to meet with Chavez and confront him about FARC. Then he said, any country that supports FARC needs to be isolated from the world community.

I mean make up your mind. You're either going to meet with them and talk to them about the FARC, the Colombian insurgent group, or you're not going to meet with them.

But, you know, Charles Krauthammer had this interesting comment the other day. He was referring to the original, sort of meta gaffe of saying he would meet with all of these dictators and leaders of rogue states.

He said a gaffe turns into a policy, and then becomes a doctrine because rather than saying, look, I made a mistake, let me get out of this. Instead he digs himself in deeper.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey, Karl, it's Alan. Welcome back to our show.

Look, we can play this game.

ROVE: Hey, there, Alan.

COLMES: . with both candidates, I mean, with John McCain, who said that Iranian operatives taking al Qaeda into Iran, training them, sending them back. He made that a couple of times until he was corrupted by Joe Lieberman, confusing Shias and Sunnis a few times, corrected by Joe Lieberman. I mean we could play that game both ways.

ROVE: Well, look, look.

COLMES: These are gaffes that happen on the campaign trail.

ROVE: And look — but I think there's a difference, though, between the kind of thing where John McCain in the midst of a whirlwind world trip confuses Shia and Sunni with somebody who adopts like Senator Obama has a bad policy and continues to defend it and then finds himself in a place where, in order to explain it, he's got to do the kind of things you generally see in a three-ring circus.

I mean, you know, this idea — you know, last year he said, yes, I'm going to meet with the leader of Iran, and now he's saying, well, you know, I'm — and then he said it explicitly, I will meet with Ahmadinejad, and now he says, well, Ahmadinejad is not the leader of Iran, so — it's not necessarily clear.

COLMES: But, again, I mean we can debate whether that's good or bad policy. A lot of people think it's good policy to talk — Reagan talked to the evil empire, Nixon went to — China to talk to Mao. We can go down the list.

ROVE: Well, let's treat it then as policy and Alan, since you brought it up, you know, this idea of meeting without precondition — Nixon did not meet with Mao without precondition. In fact there were 135 meetings between U.S. and Chinese representatives before there was finally a break- through on January 20th of 1971.

It then took until July of — July of — January of 1969 — excuse me, 1970. It took until July of 1971 for behind-the-scenes negotiations before Kissinger made his first secret trip to Beijing and it took from July until February, and all of the material was worked on in advance so the communique that that was issued in February of '72 detailing this new relationship...

COLMES: Right.

ROVE: ...had been worked out over a matter of a month.

COLMES: But the idea of talking to dictators — I mean, as Pat Buchanan will be on the show later tonight and he talks about Nixon clinking glasses with Mao while a purge was going on right outside. I mean, you know, we can debate whether this is a good or bad policy.


ROVE: Look, look, we do talk. The question — I think the question is — I don't think anybody disagrees that it is — with the idea that we ought to, in some way, be communicating and talking with dictators. The question is whether you take the president of the United States and send him out there for one-on-one negotiations without preconditions, squandering the moral authority of the office of the presidency.

We talk to dictators all the time through private channels, private diplomacy, intermediaries and public statements. The question is: should the president of the United States be out there meeting with these guys without giving precondition, giving them a — enormous propaganda?


COLMES: Well, it gave Mao propaganda help when he went to China when there's a purge going on. He's talking to Mao.

ROVE: Yes, but on the other hand, we worked out over a — over a two- year period a new relationship with China...

COLMES: All right. We.

ROVE: ...in private with preconditions. China had to do certain things in order for a new relationship to emerge.

COLMES: We got to take a break.

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