Karl Rove's Take on Obama's Confidence

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 30, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: HANNITY: And welcome to "Hannity & Colmes". We're glad you're with us. I'm Sean Hannity and our friend Kirsten Powers is once again sitting in for Alan tonight.

Kirsten, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.


HANNITY: Coming right to our "Top Story."

Video: Watch part 1 of Sean and guest host Kirsten Powers' interview with Karl Rove Watch part 2

Senator Barack Obama sounding a little presumptuous these days. The Washington Post is reporting on a meeting he had on Capitol Hill last night when he reportedly said, get this quote, "This is the moment that the world has been waiting for. I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."

His campaign has also said the odds of them winning this campaign are pretty good. But at the same time today's latest Gallup tracking poll only has Obama leading McCain nationally by 4 points, not exactly the landslide.

And Senator Obama might do well to keep in mind this very week, 20 years ago, when Vice President Bush trailed Governor Michael Dukakis by 17 points in the Gallup poll. And we all know what happened there.

Joining us tonight with more, FOX News contributor, our friend, the architect, Karl Rove.

Karl, always good to see you, my friend.


HANNITY: All right. Before we get to politics, I want your reaction, being held contempt of Congress, I know you haven't spoken about it publicly.

Your thoughts?

ROVE: Well, look, this is ludicrous. The Congress of the United States, the House Judiciary Committee is doing this because they are concerned about an issue that is being litigated in court.

The United States courts already have in front of it a case involving the precise issue that's contained in their subpoena of me for — to appear on July 10th. I have not exerted any personal privilege on this. The White House has said we want to stand up for the doctrine of separation of powers and for the right of the president to not have his aids and former aides called up at the convenience of the Congress for no good reason at all.

What's also interesting about this, and I hate to go on about it, is, look, I have told — my lawyers have said to the House Judiciary Committee five separate times we would be happy to meet with the members, meet with staff, answer written questions, anything that gives you the information you want while protecting the president's prerogative not to have his aides called before the Congress.

Finally, the ranking Republican member sent me 15 questions.


ROVE: . and they've now been answered and they are on my Web site, Rove.com, if you want to get the whole kit and caboodle.

HANNITY: You mean you have your own Web site. Are you selling Rove t-shirts?

ROVE: No, no, no, no. I'm selling Sean Hannity t-shirts on my Web site.

HANNITY: No, you know, I've got to "Stop Obama" — the "Stop Obama Express" bumper stickers on my Web site.

ROVE: There you go.

HANNITY: Well, anyway, let me move on to some of this.

ROVE: All right.

HANNITY: These comments — these this is the moment, as Nancy Pelosi said, that the world has been waiting for. I have become — this is Barack Obama — the possibility of America returning to its best traditions.

Now you were the first person to use the adjective arrogant to describe Barack Obama. We had the incident with the presidential seal. He's going to replace the bowling alley with basketball courts. No TVs in the Lincoln bedroom. He talks about a second term and he refers to the time when he was a senator.

What's going on here?

ROVE: Look, he's getting a little cocky. And in politics, when you get that kind of hubris — you know, those whom the gods destroy they first make prideful. And he's getting a little prideful.

Look, I think a lot of the trip to Europe was an example of arrogance. I mean it's one thing to go to Afghanistan and Iraq as United States senator, as part of a congressional delegation and find out what's going on, but then to go on a six- or seven-day campaign swing through Europe as if you're running for.


ROVE: . president of the world is a little extreme, particularly, you know, giving a campaign speech in Germany that, you know, that's a little bit — and, remember, we also had — he wanted to give it at the Brandenburg Gate where Reagan spoke.


ROVE: . and where President Kennedy spoke as president. I mean this is getting — this guy has gotten a big head.

HANNITY: Well, let me — I could tell you that the "Washington Post" even reports that Democrats are stunned at the arrogance of the statement - - and back to that trip. How damaging was it that he didn't go to visit those injured troops, that he decided to go work out when the Pentagon was ready and receptive for him to be there.

ROVE: Yes. Look, I got to tell you, McCain made, I think, a mistake in his television ad in saying that Obama didn't go because he couldn't take cameras.

You know, that's arguable. What we do know, though, is that on July 26th at a news conference in London, Obama, in his own words, says I went because I couldn't take my campaign advisor with me.

Well, you know the answer to that is simple — get rid of the campaign advisor and go by yourself.

It — I thought, again, was a sign of — I don't want to say this is arrogant, but it's certainly as a sign of diffidence and insensitivity.

POWERS: Hi, Karl. It's Kirsten. How are you?

ROVE: Yes.

POWERS: Thanks for being with us.

ROVE: Fine, how about you?

POWERS: OK, I'm not going to litigate the troops thing because Obama has said that he didn't go because he thought it would be too political, and I think this is — you know, we're just going to go back and forth on that.

I want to go back just to the.

ROVE: Yes, but Kirsten, Kirsten.

POWERS: . the arrogance stuff.

ROVE: Let me — wait a minute. Wait a minute. I don't want to pass over that so quickly.


ROVE: Remember, he put this on his schedule.

POWERS: Right.

ROVE: He was going to go. In his own news conference.

ROVE: Right. But Karl, you've worked — you worked in campaigns before. You know perfectly well that you cannot focus on something until right before the day before and then suddenly say.

ROVE: Wait a minute, wait a minute, whoa, wait a minute. Wait a minute.

POWERS: . you know what? I don't think this was a good idea.

ROVE: Not — this was a well-planned out, well-thought out. They had weeks and months where they thought about what went into this trip. And again, I go back to his words. They are appalling. Run it — I hope you all run — find the tape and run it.

On July 26th in front of Number 10 Downing Street he says I didn't go because I couldn't take my campaign advisor.

POWERS: I just can't believe that you really believe that. I can't believe that you're actually suggesting that.

ROVE: Hey, I believe.

POWERS: . he absolutely doesn't care about the troops. He visited them, you know, in other places, have been to Walter Reed. He visited them on other (INAUDIBLE) of this trip.

ROVE: Kirsten, I didn't — Kirsten..

POWERS: I don't understand why you — why you're asserting that he suddenly didn't.

ROVE: Kirsten.

POWERS: . he only cares about the troops to use them as a photo-op.

ROVE: Kirsten, I didn't say that. What I said was his reason was appalling. He said he didn't go because he couldn't take his campaign advisor.

POWERS: What he said — listen.

ROVE: And then, look, I do believe — I do take him at his word. What he said on July 26th was, here's why I didn't go. And my point is he should have gone.

POWERS: I don't know why you're saying that, because I.

ROVE: I'm saying it because he said it on July 26th.

POWERS: No, because what Obama has said is the reason he didn't go is because he decided that he thought it would be seen as being too political and politicizing the troops.

ROVE: Well, Kirsten, please.

POWERS: And that's his official statement on it. And I.

ROVE: No, no, no. Kirsten, go back and look what he himself said, and you're right. He said it would look political because he — he wanted to take his campaign advisor. The simple answer is don't take the campaign advisor.

POWERS: OK, but — then you know what?

ROVE: Would anybody — please, let me finish. Kirsten.

POWERS: You have a disagreement with him about a decision that he made. But that's very different than making a broader accusation as Republicans are doing over and over by repeating this. The accusation is meant to insinuate that he only cares about the troops to use them as a photo op, is it not?

ROVE: No. What it is, is that visiting the troops was less important to him than visiting the troops with his campaign advisor in tow. They didn't have.

POWERS: There is no evidence to support that.

ROVE: Please let me finish. With — look, with all due respect, his own words on July 26th in London say that. I'm quoting him. He himself stood there and said, when they told me I had a campaign advisor and because he was a campaign advisor and wasn't on my Senate staff, that — they thought they didn't want him to come and we thought it would look political.

Well, don't take the campaign advisor.


ROVE: That's the simple answer. With all due respect, you need to take him at his own word.

POWERS: I am taking him at his own words.

ROVE: . and hold him accountable at his own word.

POWERS: I take him at his own word and I — and I think he said something different.

But we're going to have to go to a break.

ROVE: Oh well, but please, there's an easier way.

POWERS: We have to go to break, Karl. We can take this up after the break.

ROVE: There's an easy way to litigate. Let's pull up the tape and run the tape of the July 26th interview.

POWERS: All right. All right. But we can talk about it after the break.

ROVE: You bet.

POWERS: All right.

Coming up, there's no denying Barack Obama's star power and John McCain makes that known in his new ad. But you'll never guess who he compares the Illinois senator to.

More with Karl Rove when we return.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the biggest celebrity in the world.

But is he ready to lead?

With gas prices soaring, Barack Obama says no to offshore drilling and says he'll raise taxes on electricity?

Higher taxes, more foreign oil.

That's the real Obama.


POWERS: That was John McCain's new ad featuring celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

On the campaign trail today Senator Obama was asked to respond to Senator McCain's attack ad.

Here's what he said.


OBAMA: You know, I don't pay attention to John McCain's ads, although I do notice that he doesn't seem to have anything very positive to say about himself, does he? He seems to only be talking about me.

You need to ask John McCain what he's for not just what he's against.


POWERS: We continue now with Karl Rove.

Karl, what's your take on that ad? Do you think it's an effective ad or, as some people have said, they feel like he's just showing Obama being sort of this rock star?

ROVE: Well, it's sort of, I think, an odd ad. It — you know, I don't understand the first part of it with the — with all of the footage from Germany.

But, on the other hand, at the heart of it is a very sharp distinction between the two. Senator Obama is against drilling on offshore on the outer continental shelf. Senator McCain is in favor of it. Senator — there is a whole bunch of these things on energy where Obama is against and McCain is for something.

Nuclear energy, Senator McCain is for it, Senator Obama against it. Senator McCain opposes taxes on coal, Senator Obama proposes taxes on coal. Senator McCain opposes new taxes on natural gas, Senator Obama said perhaps we need additional taxes on natural gas.

POWERS: Right.

Well, I do think that one area where Obama, obviously, is going to, probably, end up being very vulnerable is on this offshore drilling issue.

ROVE: Right.

POWERS: And, you know, I think, it's been pretty clear for a while, at least — you know, maybe open to ANWR or offshore drilling.

I mean, how do you see that, as a strategist, how can he get out of this?

ROVE: Yes. Well, you know he can't because he's pretty firmly on record. In fact, if McCain were able to effectively prosecute this, this could be a big issue because it's not only drilling on offshore. It's nuclear power. It's clean cool technology. It's no new taxes on energy and electricity and coal and natural gas.

That's the McCain approach. And McCain, though, has got to begin to frame this in terms of, look, this is about jobs and economic growth and prosperity. If you're making glass for the auto industry in Ohio, your job depends upon affordable natural gas. If you're a farmer you're getting killed on fertilizer prices because you don't have access to natural gas.

We're building no new chemical plants in America. Those are good jobs. They're being built overseas because they've got supplies that they're making available to those plants and we're not.

HANNITY: Hey, he even went further today in Springfield, Missouri, Karl, and he said that the oil companies are shoving this thing down the throats of Congress and they know everyone wants to pretend that they're doing something about the energy crisis, and he called it a scheme their desire to have offshore.

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: . offshore drilling. He's really painted himself into a corner at the same time.

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: . Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi seem willing to move towards a vote.

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: . which they have been reluctant to do.

ROVE: Yes. Look, this is an issue on which Americans have had their minds changed by the facts. $4 a gallon gas caused a lot of people to change minds. And Senator Obama can't, Senator McCain did.

Remember, Senator McCain a year ago was where Senator Obama is. But he had — at least had the courage to come forward and say.


ROVE: . look, new facts, new information caused me to change my mind.

Can we go back for just a second? I have the quote here from July 26th. Senator Obama in London said, "I was going to be accompanied by one of my advisors," a former military officer, and that was going to create problems. And as a result he decided not to go.

That's from his news conference, his own words.

HANNITY: Those were his own words.

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: And then he went to work out instead of going to see the troops.

ROVE: Right.

HANNITY: And everything else was a well choreographed photo opportunity and I agree wholeheartedly with you.

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: I want to talk about the polling. That one Gallup poll, all over the weekend, we heard the Berlin bounce. He's up by nine points. He's now lost more than half of that since then. But more importantly John McCain was winning by four points among likely voters.

What I'd like you to break down for us, Karl, is likely voters, registered voters, that four-point lead by Senator McCain, and polling history, if we go back — and "The Hotline" had a piece on this today — you know, shows — suggests that if we're going to look at the last number of elections but for 2000, the last five of them, John McCain will gain 15 points between now and Election Day, if you believe history will repeat itself.

ROVE: Well, history doesn't have a way of repeating itself all the time. But, again, you know, talking about weird things, since 1948, everybody who has led in the Gallup poll in a — in a seriously contested race for the presidency, not the laydowns like `64 and `72 and '84, but the seriously contested races — everybody who has led in the Gallup poll at the end of July has lost the general elections and all elections except one.

But look, here's the point. There is lots of polling. There is so much polling out there it.


ROVE: . makes your head spin. And we shouldn't give these the scientific precision that the pollster is trying to endow them with. Take for example the difference between the likely voter and registered voters. This may be a temporary aberration. We don't know.


ROVE: What may have happened is, the Republicans may have gotten so infuriated and outraged by the foreign trip of Obama that suddenly their interest in the race spikes up and as a result in the likely voter screen.


ROVE: . they pop up to the top.

HANNITY: I agree with that.

ROVE: . and McCain takes the lead.

HANNITY: Yes, all right. Last question and then we've got to let you go here.

Who do you think he's going to pick for VP? And if you had his ear, who would you advise him to pick for VP?

ROVE: McCain?


ROVE: You know I don't — look, this is a very personal decision. And he's probably looking at a lot more names than people think. We looked at 24 names in 2000 and Clinton looked at 41 names.

If I were picking, I'd pick Romney. But then, you know, it's.


ROVE: . a very tough choice.

HANNITY: All right. Who — do you think it's going to be Kaine for Obama?

ROVE: I don't. It might be because — but it'd be an intensely political choice. What they'd be saying by doing that is we're going after Virginia and we don't care about whether or not this guy really has the oomph to be president.

Remember, he's the governor of Virginia for three years.


ROVE: That's national — that's his statewide experience, that's it.

HANNITY: All right.

ROVE: You'd have two candidates with very thin records on the Democratic side.

HANNITY: Karl Rove, good to see you, my friend, the architect.

ROVE: Thank you.

HANNITY: Appreciate your being with us.

ROVE: You bet.

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