Transcript: Karl Rove on 'FOX News Sunday'

The following is a partial transcript of the Aug. 19, 2007, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":

FOX NEWS SUNDAY HOST CHRIS WALLACE: Well, joining us now, President Bush's most influential and controversial strategist, Karl Rove, who announced his resignation this week. And, Mr. Rove, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."


WALLACE: Washington is still buzzing over your decision to leave. September, as you know, is a big month for this president with the Petraeus report and fighting to keep troops in Iraq, also a spending battle, possible vetoes with Congress. Why not stay at least for that?

ROVE: Well, I've been talking to the president about this for over a year. And it always seemed that we — whenever we'd talk about when was the right time to leave, there would always be something else. You know, there'd be another battle. And he really needs — you know, there's — this is the right time to go. There are people that have been brought into place who can take up some of my responsibilities and other people who could be recruited to take on them. And now's the time to go.

WALLACE: What about the argument that your resignation shows that this president is a lame duck who is going to be playing defense from now on, and not launching big initiatives and so forth, therefore he doesn't need Karl Rove?

ROVE: Yeah, look. Well, first of all, nobody is irreplaceable. We can all be replaced, with the exception of the president. Look. That's a complete misunderstanding of who he is. He is a bold leader who's going to be milking every single moment that he's got in this office. He knows the powers of the office. He knows the leverage that he's got. He didn't come here simply to occupy it. He came here to do things, and he's going to keep doing things right up to the moment that he leaves on January 20th, 2009.

WALLACE: When you were last here, which I will remind you was the weekend after the 2004 election victory, you spoke of your ambition to build a lasting Republican majority, very much the way that one of your heroes, Mark Hanna...

ROVE: No, no. Mark Hanna is not my hero. My hero is William McKinley.

WALLACE: All right. But he was William McKinley's Karl Rove, if you will.

ROVE: No, he wasn't.

WALLACE: Well, let me finish. Then you can tell me why I'm wrong — in helping to build a lasting Republican majority after the election of 1896. We talked about that when you were last here. Let's watch.


WALLACE: Does this election have the same potential to grow the size and give a governing majority to the Republican Party for decades?

ROVE: It does. We'll only tell with time.


WALLACE: Without getting us into a lecture about Mark Hanna and William McKinley, what's gone wrong in the last three years?

ROVE: Look. The 2006 election was a normal off-year election. If you look at the sweep of American history, the White House party in its second term, off-year election, has lost an average of 28 seats in the House and five seats in the Senate.We lost 30 in the House and six in the Senate, and it was a very close election. The House of Representatives was decided by 85,000 votes out of 82 million cast. The 15 closest races...

WALLACE: You sound like John Kerry complaining about Ohio.

ROVE: Well, no, no, we lost. I mean, there's no doubt about it.


ROVE: But it was a close loss. I mean, think about that. We lost 15 contests by a combined total of 85,000 votes. We lost control of the Senate by 3,562 votes in Montana. Close election — the normal and ordinary thing you'd expect in a second midterm.I do think the Republican Party is the party that is more in keeping with the attitudes and values and views of the American people. And with a strong candidates we've got — McCain, Thompson, Romney, Giuliani, and others — we'll have an excellent chance to keep the White House.

WALLACE: But according to the Wall Street Journal poll in June — and let's put it up on the screen — only 28 percent of voters had a very or somewhat positive view of the Republican Party.That's the lowest popularity rating for the GOP in the two-decade history of the poll. That sure doesn't sound like you've been building over the last three years a lasting Republican majority.

ROVE: Well, first of all, campaigns are about articulating a vision for the future and offering somebody to implement that vision.And I look at our candidates and I look at their vision, and I have confidence that they're going to be able to carry this message to the American people.There's plenty of time. There are several geological ages that are going to come and go before the 2008 election.

And at the same time you quote that poll, take a look at the very sharp decline in the popularity of the Democrat Congress, which was at very high levels seven months ago and has plummeted way below where the president has.In fact, in June and July, I think there were like eight public polls. The Democrat Congress lost ground in — I think it is seven out of the eight.

There were also in those eight polls questions about the president's popularity and he gained in six out of eight.So what we've seen is the Democrat Congress declining, a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination who has higher negatives than any major candidate for history since the polling began.And I look at our candidates and their views and their values and what they're articulating, and I feel — you know, it's going to be tough, but I feel good about it.

WALLACE: All right. There are a few big raps against Karl Rove, and I want to give you the...

ROVE: Only a few?

WALLACE: Well, yeah. In any event, we had to winnow them down.

ROVE: Thank you.

WALLACE: And I want to give you an opportunity to give your side on a few of them.The first is that with unprecedented national unity after 9/11 that you decided to turn the war on terror into a campaign issue.And Exhibit A in that is an ad that was run in the 2002 Senate campaign against Max Cleland, a Vietnam veteran who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam. Let's take a look.


ANNOUNCER: America faces terrorists and extremist dictators. Max Cleland runs television ads claiming he has the courage to lead. He says he supports President Bush at every opportunity, but that's not the truth.


WALLACE: Now, I understand that as the chief strategist to the president, you weren't sitting there writing ads in Georgia for Max Cleland or against Max Cleland, but were that and other attacks on Democrats, turning the war on terror into a campaign issue, just in 2002 — was that a mistake?

ROVE: First of all, you're right. They did that ad. The White House didn't. It would be — surprise you, but we've got better things to do than write television ads in Senate campaigns in Georgia.I do think it's important to look at the context of this. Senator Cleland was running a television ad saying that he supported the president on homeland security, when he was one of the senators who was blocking the passage of the homeland security bill because of a special interest provision that would have allowed the labor unions to organize the Department of Homeland Security.You know, we have — John Kennedy set in place a policy in the early '60s that said that government departments connected with national security had the right to declare certain parts of those agencies off-limits to union organizing. This was signed into law by James Earl Carter.And what the homeland security bill had was a provision that would undo that for the Department of Homeland Security.

WALLACE: Forgive me. I don't want to re-fight the Cleland race in Georgia in 2002. I want to ask a bigger question, though, because this was far from the only time that you called — you — called Democrats soft on terror.Let's take a quick look at some of Karl Rove's greatest hits.


ROVE: Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding to our attackers.



ROVE: When it gets tough and when it gets difficult, they fall back on that party's old pattern of cutting and running.


WALLACE: Now, Democrats are clearly far from blameless in all of this, but should you and the president — we're talking now just a year after 9/11 and ever since. Should you have made the war on terror something that unified the country, not divided it?

ROVE: Well, look. First of all, I was very specific in my comments on that first speech. I have a copy of the speech with me and I'd be happy to leave it with you. I'm sure you've never read it.But what I talked about was four specific things. I talked about a ad that talked about how we literally should not invade Afghanistan to remove the Taliban but instead should sit down and see if we could negotiate something with them.I talked about the comments of Michael Moore, Howard Dean and an outrageous speech by Senator Durbin on the floor of the Senate in which he said that the things that were being done at Gitmo to terrorists who had attacked America were as bad as what Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot had done.I was very specific in my comments. I'd be happy to leave you a copy of the speech and I'll defend it every step of the way.When a Democrat goes out and says something as reprehensible as Senator Durbin said about our U.S. military, or when has such a incredibly out-of-touch ad like that one — let's literally provide therapy, let's — you know, let's sit down and counsel with the Taliban about what they — what bad things they've done and see if we can't find a way to get them to agree — I'm going to — you know, we have an obligation to speak out about it.Now, look. The Democrats could routinely question the president's integrity. They can routinely stand up and call him a liar and say he deliberately misled the country to get into war.When we call the Democrats for their statements and for their votes, somehow that's wrong. I don't get it. It's completely acceptable.If a Democrat says, "It should not matter to us what happens in Iraq, we ought to leave the country and leave it to its own devices," that's wrong. That's not good for the security of the United States and it's not good for the security of the region.

WALLACE: The other complaint about you — and actually, even some Republicans have been saying that this week — is that the very things that made you so successful as a campaign strategist — the polarizing strategy — hurts you in trying to help govern and that, in fact, you alienated Democrats and even — I'm not telling anything you haven't heard this week — ran roughshod over congressional Republicans.

ROVE: Yeah.

WALLACE: Briefly, and not getting into the details of each, how do you explain the failure to build coalitions in the second term on Social Security reform, immigration reform, tax reform?

ROVE: Yeah. First of all, I don't accept that we didn't build coalitions. We built a coalition to pass an energy bill. We built a bipartisan coalition to pass a tax cut. We built — three tax cuts.We built a bipartisan coalition to pass education reform, bipartisanship to pass the Patriot Act, bipartisanship for the war resolution — bipartisanship, incidentally, on Social Security. The chairman of the president's Social Security Reform Commission was respected Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York.On immigration, we worked closely with Democrats in the house and the Senate. In fact, it was a Democrat who...

WALLACE: But why didn't you get any of them through in the Senate?

ROVE: Well, because at the end of the day, Senator Harry Reid, for reasons that are completely inexplicable — we were this close to getting that bill through.There were a whole series of amendments lined up by proponents and opponents. Everybody would have had a chance to be part of the process.And on a Friday night, for reasons that I, to this moment, do not understand and cannot explain to you, Senator Reid precipitously pulled down that bill, claiming that he was tired of it, didn't think that there was going to be enough time the next week. We were within a couple of days. Members of the Senate who said, "Look, I've got a shot to get my amendment. If I get my amendment passed, I'll be for the bill. If I don't get my amendment passed, I will at least have had a shot to try to improve the bill and I could probably be for it..."

WALLACE: But, Mr. Rove, there was tremendous opposition from your own party on immigration reform and, frankly, not much support on Social Security reform.

ROVE: Well, look. On Social Security it's a tough issue. This president campaigned, talked about it in 2000, talked about it in 2004. But it's a difficult issue. I understand that.But again, inexplicable opposition from Democrats — Senator Moynihan, for example, came up with a wonderful idea, called, after the author of it, the Posen plan, which basically that said we're going to have a progressive benefit and we're going to take the promise that Social Security has made that it can't fulfill, but we'll keep it to the bottom third by giving them the full benefit.We'll have a scaled-up benefit so that everybody gets a check as big as the check that they're supposed to get today and that the government can — that we've got the tax money to pay for.This was a great idea, and Democrats opposed it. And why? Because they didn't want to give this president a victory.I had Democrats tell me, face to face, "We'd love to work with you on Social Security, but our leadership won't let me," or, "I'd love to work with you on Social Security, but my leaders are afraid of giving the president a political victory." That's bad for America.

WALLACE: You've been subpoenaed to testify by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys. Why not appear under oath or at least allow a transcript?

ROVE: Because of the Constitution of the United States. We have a constitutional separation of powers.Imagine the outcry if the executive branch said, "We have the ability to call aides to members of Congress up before us to testify publicly as to what they've told their boss, their senator or congressman or congresswoman for whom they work."Imagine the outcry if either the executive or the legislative said, "We have the ability to call Supreme Court clerks out for public testimony about what they're advising the Supreme Court justice when they're writing an opinion."You know, the counsel's office made a generous offer to the Senate. They said, "If you want to find out what Harriet Miers and Karl Rove said and did, we'd be happy to provide them for a conversation with you which would protect the president's prerogative and yet give you the information you..."

WALLACE: All right. The Constitution does not prevent you from speaking to me so, in fact, I'll ask you some questions.Why did you push to fire some U.S. attorneys in the president's second term?

ROVE: Nice try. You — the president has prerogatives that stand up not only to Congress, but also to you.

WALLACE: Well, I'm simply asking you what you did.

ROVE: And what I advised the president is protected by that prerogative. Nice try, Chris.

WALLACE: Can you — and what you did unilaterally was protected by that prerogative?

ROVE: What I did as...

WALLACE: I mean, executive privilege involves the separation of powers with Congress. It doesn't involve what you talk to me about.

ROVE: It involves the right of a president to receive candid advice from his aides without being subjected to — called by the Congress to come up and testify.I know you don't understand you're being an agent of Congress when you ask me that question, but you are.

ROVE: I'm going to stand and protect the Constitution and the right of a president, which is absolutely vital, to receive unvarnished, direct and candid advice from his aides.

WALLACE: So you say that the Constitution protects — in fact, prevents you from talking to the press, talking to the public?

ROVE: If the president...

WALLACE: I like to think I'm an agent of the public, not the Congress.

ROVE: Well, in this instance, you're an agent of Senator Leahy and Congressman Waxman.The Constitution gives the president the right to get this kind of advice. What I told the president, what actions took place in the White House, are protected constitutionally by that separation of power.

WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break here.But coming up, the 2008 campaign, the Valerie Plame leak case, and why on earth Karl Rove ever agreed to do this — become a rap artist. All that in a moment.


WALLACE: And we're back now with White House strategist Karl Rove. Looking ahead to the 2008 campaign, you said this week that the Democrats are likely to name a, quote, "tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate, Hillary Clinton," as you said in the first segment, that — no frontrunner has ever gone into the primary season with such high negatives. Here was Clinton's response this week.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: Today Karl Rove attacked me again. I feel so lucky that I now am giving them such heartburn.


WALLACE: Her campaign says the more you attack her, the more the Democrats love her. So why are you helping Hillary Clinton?

ROVE: Didn't know that I was. Don't think that I am.

WALLACE: What does that mean?

ROVE: Exactly that.

WALLACE: In fact, I mean, is there a certain amount of — don't throw me into the briar patch here — that you'd like to see her as the Democratic candidate?

ROVE: Look. It is going to be what it's going to be. I mean, you know, the Democrats are going to choose a nominee. I believe it's going to be her. That's their business.Maybe I made the mistake of trying to be — audition for a member of the Fox panel by opining about what might happen. But I think she's going to be the nominee.

WALLACE: Well, but what makes her fatally flawed? I understand she has high negatives. George W. Bush had high negatives going into the 2004 campaign — didn't beat him.

ROVE: Yeah, but look. First of all, they were nowhere near as high as hers. In fact, I think the next highest is Al Gore going into the 2000 campaign. But look. The fact is she's known. People know her. She's been around for 16 years. It's really hard, once you jump up onto the stage and have been on the stage that long, to do much to change people's attitudes about you, and she's going in with more people having an unfavorable opinion than having a favorable opinion.

WALLACE: And from your experience in politics, can you turn that around?

ROVE: It's difficult. It can be done, but it's difficult.

WALLACE: Turning to the GOP race, do you have a favorite?

ROVE: I'm not going to tell you. I've got a right to vote in the Texas Republican primary which I intend to exercise.

WALLACE: Well, without telling...

ROVE: Kerr County, Texas.

WALLACE: Without telling us who it is, do you have a favorite?

ROVE: I don't. I'm going to be interested to watch it.

WALLACE: Do you think that the Republican Party would ever nominate someone who is pro-choice? Is abortion still too much of a touchstone for the Republican Party for that ever to happen?

ROVE: Look. Our party is a pro-life party. I do think people are accepting of candidates who, you know, are — may have a slightly different label or may have a slightly different attitude, as long as people respect and understand the essential core of that, which is what do we need to do in order to make abortion less prevalent in America. And appointing conservative judges, encouraging adoptions, standing for the restrictions that we have in current law so there's no federal funding — I find a lot of people who are pro-life are willing to take a candidate who will carry that standard.

WALLACE: Someone who could carry that standard but also defends a woman's fundamental right to choose.

ROVE: Look. That's one of the issues that will be decided in the primary. And the question is, you know, do — people who enter politics, when they first enter politics, tend to sort of want everything very quickly.And as time goes on, they mature and they get a more mature understanding of politics and say, "You know what? I want somebody who is with me, you know, 80 percent or 90 percent of the time and may take longer to get where I want to go." And they just — that's a natural thing in politics.

WALLACE: Everyone I talked to about this interview asked me the same question, which is, "Will Karl Rove get involved in the 2008 campaign?", especially given the fact that you're concerned and obviously interested in preserving the president's legacy. And as you well know, there's nothing that would be more instrumental to doing that than electing a Republican president.

ROVE: I don't anticipate taking any kind of formal role. Look, I've done this — I've been at this a long time. I've been with this president for 14 years.I've been involved in — you know, we started planning and thinking about running for president shortly after the 1996 election. I mean, I'm in my eleventh year of this. So, no. My wife would kill me.

WALLACE: But if somebody called you up privately and said, "Hey, what do you think about..."

ROVE: Well, look. I mean, I've got friends in all four of the major camps. I'm an opinionated kind of guy. And I hope to think I'm sort of discreet. And so if people call me, I'm happy to give them what I think.

WALLACE: Why did you discuss with two reporters that Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joe Wilson, worked for the CIA?

ROVE: Yeah. Well, first of all, let me say there is a civil lawsuit filed by Wilson and Plame against a wide variety of people.

WALLACE: But that's been dismissed.

ROVE: Well, it's been dismissed, but they've announced they intend to appeal. And so I'm not going to add anything to the public record.What I did say to one reporter was, "I've heard that, too." And what I said to another reporter, off the record, was, in essence, "I don't think you ought to be writing about this."And you know, we'll — I intend to hold my fire and not add anything else to the public record until after this is over.

WALLACE: Matt Cooper, the second reporter you're talking about, who then worked for Time, says you told him that Joe Wilson's wife, who worked for the CIA, authorized the trip.

ROVE: Which I had been told by a reporter.

WALLACE: But did you tell that to Matt Cooper?

ROVE: I'm going to let — I don't recall Mr. Cooper's conversation. I'll let his notes stand as a record of it. It's clear off the — that I'm talking to him off the record, trying to discourage him.After all, this is the day that the CIA is going to issue a statement. I'll remind you what that statement said, by the CIA Director George Tenet on July 11th. He said, "Contrary to Mr. Wilson's claim in the New York Times, neither the White House, the vice president or the director of the CIA sent him to Niger."The information he came back with was not treated as dispositive or conclusive on the question of whether or not Iraq had tried to acquire uranium in Niger.In fact, we now know from the Senate Select Intelligence Committee that Mr. Wilson came back but did not mention in his article information that corroborated the British intelligence report about Iraq trying to acquire uranium in Niger.He, Mr. Wilson, had found a previously undisclosed contact between Iraq and a third party to pressure the Niger government to accept a trade delegation, which it did, and since the only thing they had to trade was uranium cake, the Niger government was very nervous and basically shut down the meeting.

WALLACE: But whether it was off the record, whether you were saying, "I just heard that, too," whatever it was you were saying, you're a government official. Why traffic at all in the fact that his wife worked for the CIA?

ROVE: Look. I didn't confirm it. If somebody had said — if you as a reporter had said, "I'd like you to confirm this," my answer would have been to say, "I can't." And again...

WALLACE: But you say that's not what you said to Bob Novak.

ROVE: I said that I heard that, too, and I'm — you know, that was not confirmation. If you talk to the CIA, if you talk to...

WALLACE: But do you think that you should even have been discussing a CIA operative?

ROVE: Look. There are 30-some-odd thousand people who work at the CIA. I did not know that — and I'm not even certain to this day whether she fit the definition of a CIA operative.

WALLACE: I want to take you back...

ROVE: I would remind you also if she were, I suspect that the special prosecutor would have done something different about both Mr. Richard Armitage, who was the person who had an extensive conversation with Mr. Novak about this, and would have done something different about me.

WALLACE: I want to take you back to the fall of 2003, when both the president and the president's press secretary said — denied you had spoken to anyone about Valerie Plame. Take a look.


PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action.



QUESTION: You said this morning that, quote, "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved." How does he know that?

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, public knowledge. I've said that it's not true, and I have spoken with Karl Rove.


WALLACE: Question: Did you mislead the present and Scott McClellan?

ROVE: No, I didn't. In fact, the president said classified information. I was very clear right from the beginning on this with both the counsel's office and with the FBI.And look. If I had leaked classified information, Peter (sic) Fitzgerald would have done something different. And what I told Scott McClellan was I didn't know her name, didn't know her status at the CIA.

WALLACE: When was the first time you told the president?

ROVE: I'm not going to — again, nice try. I've said I'm not going to — there is a civil lawsuit. I'm not going to expand the public record.What I've just said to you is available on the public record before today.

WALLACE: Well, thank you for making it seem even more important, Mr. Rove.Question: What do you think of Joe Wilson?

ROVE: I'm not going to comment. Nice try.

WALLACE: Finally...

ROVE: What do you think about Mr. Wilson?

WALLACE: Nice try.

ROVE: Thank you.

WALLACE: Finally, let's do a lightning round of Rove insights — quick questions, quick answers. You're famous in campaigns for turning your opponent's strengths into weaknesses. How do you do that?

ROVE: You look at what they claim to be strong on and see if they really are strong on it. And many times, what people tend to offer up as their strength turns out to be actually a weakness when you examine it further. For example, the claim by Senator Kerry in 2004 that simply because he'd served in military service, which is laudable and patriotic and worthy of personal recommendation, somehow made him capable of being a strong war leader, when his views and values and approach would have been wrong in a time of...

WALLACE: But some would say go after their weaknesses. Why is it so effective to go after strengths?

ROVE: Because again, sometimes people's strengths turn out to be really big weaknesses. We tend to — you know, people tend to sometimes in campaigns accentuate things that they think are big and important, and they exaggerate them.And more than anything else, people want authenticity and reality. People are pretty smart. They look at somebody running for office and they don't see them as all good and all bad. They see them as, you know, human beings trying to do their best.So if you exaggerate your strong points, it generally gives an opening for people to say, "Well, you know what? Maybe that person really isn't somebody that deserves..."

WALLACE: When you disclosed on Monday to the Wall Street Journal your plans to leave, you said the following, "I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob." Question: Who's the mob?

ROVE: Well, we were — this particular context, we were talking about — Paul Gigot asked me, "Well, you know, don't you think the people on Capitol Hill who are after you are — you know, are you leaving because of them?" And so I was referring to this gaggle of politicians on the Hill who seem to be after me.It's interesting. A week or two ago, there was an article in one of these Hill publications where they quoted the Democrat staffers as saying, "Rove is the big fish." You know, I feel like I'm Moby Dick and we've got a couple people on Capitol Hill auditioning for the role of Captain Ahab.But look. I'm going to make a decision and made a decision a year ago on what's best for my family, not on the basis of any consideration about what they will do.They'll keep after me. Let's face it. I mean, I'm a myth, and they're — you know, I'm Beowulf. You know, I'm Grendel. I don't know who I am. But they're after me.

WALLACE: I'm going to get to that in a second. After you resigned, Bill Moyers — some would say he's part of the mob — went after you as an agnostic who flim-flammed the Christian right. Take a look.


BILL MOYERS, JOURNALIST: You have to wonder how all those folks on the Christian right must feel discovering they were used for partisan reasons by a skeptic, a secular manipulator.


WALLACE: Your response.

ROVE: I'm a Christian. I go to church. I'm an Episcopalian. I think he may have taken a comment that I made where I was talking about how — I have had colleagues at the White House — Mike Gerson, Pete Wayner (ph), Leslie Drune (ph), Josh Bolten and others — who I'm really impressed about how their faith has informed their lives and made them really better people.And it took a comment where I acknowledged my shortcomings in living up to the beliefs of my faith and contrasted it with how these extraordinary people have made their faith a part of their fiber.And somehow or another he goes from taking it from me being an Episcopalian wishing I was a better Christian to somehow making me into a agnostic. You know, Mr. Moyers ought to do a little bit better research before he does another drive-by slander.

WALLACE: Finally — and let's put up the tape.


WALLACE: See, I saved the drive-by slander for last. Good idea or bad idea to play rap master at a big Washington dinner?

ROVE: I had no choice. I was plucked out of the crowd. If you thought I wanted to do — I'm Norwegian. I don't dance. That's twitching.I'll tell you, I knew I was in trouble. I met the two fellows beforehand, and I was with staff and the president that night at the White House Correspondent's Dinner. And one of them, Brad Sherman, said to me after visiting for a few moments — he says, "You know, you're not a bad guy, not like the devil I've been taught, you know."And so when he came off of that head stage and said, "We need some more audience participation," he walked from the left-hand side of the stage all the way over to the right-hand stage — we were — we'd been seated two tables apart — and came straight down the row at me.I went, "Oh, no," you know. And then they dragged me up there. I was uncomfortable. And I said, "I've got a choice. I can be irritated and everybody will see it, or I can play along and try and show them I'm a good sport."So I tried to play along. But it's the most humiliating moment in Washington, bar none.

WALLACE: And finally, what choice words did the president have for you when you came off the stage?

ROVE: He said, "You're fired."

WALLACE: Well, I guess it took a little while, but finally it's true.

ROVE: Hey, hey, hey, I left under my own power.

WALLACE: All right. That's your story.Mr. Rove, thank you.

ROVE: Thank you, Chris.

WALLACE: Thanks so much for coming in, and please come back. We always want to hear what you have to say, sir.

ROVE: Thank you, sir.