Former White House Press Secretary on New Obama Ads

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," March 26, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, you know, the president holding a virtual town hall meeting today to push his nearly $4 trillion budget, but it does not stop there. He is also launching this new ad by his Organizing For America movement.


NARRATOR: America is facing tough times. Fortunately, President Obama has a plan to get our economy moving again, to cut the deficit in half and create jobs by investing in health care, energy independence, and schools.

Thousands are going door to door as part of Organizing For America, gathering support for President Obama's plan to invest in America's future.

You can help, too. Call Congress and tell them to support President Obama's budget plan to get our economy moving again.


CAVUTO: All right, now, to be fair, campaigns use these kinds of ads all the time, but sitting presidents?

With us now, former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.

Dana, what do you think of this?

DANA PERINO, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think, if you can get away with it, it's probably a pretty good communications strategy.

From what I remember, we did not direct outside groups from the White House. I think that our legal counsel advised that that was not permissible. I am sure that the Obama team has gone through their legal channels. And I guess that they have a pass to go ahead and do it.

CAVUTO: But if they're directly doing it, if it's being done through sort of a third party, you think they have an active hand in this?

PERINO: Well, I think that they have promoted that.

Yes, I think that it's been out in the news that they have a campaign, an organized campaign, that they are working with this group in order to try to gin up support. We also tried to gin up support for our efforts, such as the tax cuts and No Child Left Behind. But that was usually done through the RNC. We were not allowed to direct it from the White House.

I don't know how much hands-on direction they are getting from this White House. But what I will tell you is that it's curious to me from a communications standpoint why you would want to go out and promote this communications effort before you know what the results would be.

As I understand it, there were about 14 million e-mails that went out asking for pledges to support the budget. And they got about 100,000 pledges. That's not a very good success rate. And I would have waited until I had a little bit more support before I went out and talked about the communications behind it.

CAVUTO: All right, we should point out that these ads are running on CNN and MSNBC, apparently, other news networks.

PERINO: They did not buy time on your network?

CAVUTO: They did not buy time on FOX. I don't know whether that was personal or whatever.


CAVUTO: They did not buy time on FOX.

PERINO: Too expensive.

CAVUTO: But let me ask you, while I have you here, your old boss, the president, President Bush, has been oddly quiet, in fact, refused to say anything critical of Barack Obama and things that are essentially undoing a lot of the stuff that he did.

Now, Vice President Cheney did not waste very much time criticizing some of these moves, but not your old boss.

What is he thinking?

PERINO: Well, I think the vice president was granted an interview. And he asked (sic) questions that were posed to him. I don't think that he came out swinging. He was asked a question. And he answered it in...


CAVUTO: Well, he knew that those questions would come up, right?

PERINO: Sure. So, he decided to do the interview.

Look, President Bush had a view that, when he was off the stage, he was going to get off the stage. And I thought, last week, when he said that "President Obama deserves my silence," that shows the grace, dignity, and class of George W. Bush that I am certainly very proud of.

But I also think that the vice president is absolutely right to defend the policies of the administration. So, I don't think you will see President Bush out there for a while. He believes that ex-presidents should do what they do best and not try to meddle in the affairs of the current president.

CAVUTO: Real quickly, the guy — you were kind of roughed up in the shoe-throwing incident.


CAVUTO: He's going to be in the slammer for a few years. What do you think of that?

PERINO: Well, I don't know how much time — that scream is so funny, to hear that, because, actually, that was me screaming.


CAVUTO: That's you.

PERINO: Well, I got hit in the face.

CAVUTO: Absolutely.

PERINO: But I don't think he got any time for the black eye that I ended up with.

But what I think is interesting about this, Neil, is that who would have thought, just even three years ago, that the Iraqis would be able to have an issue, deal with it through their legal system? And now he's going to be doing his time. It's three years.


CAVUTO: You're right.

PERINO: I think it's — I don't know whether it is fair or not, but that's what they decided. And I think, you know, good for the Iraqis for going through their system.

CAVUTO: OK, Dana, thank you.

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