Interviews

Karl Rove: Obama 'Not Serious' About Immigration Reform

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 1, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: And now on to the top story tonight: reaction [to Obama's immigration speech]. Joining us now from beautiful Austin, Texas, is Karl Rove, a Fox News contributor and, of course, the author of the fabulous book "Courage and Consequence."

Karl, you can take a swat at what I said if I'm being unfair or being unreasonable with President Obama's speech today. I don't know if you saw it, but what's your take?

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KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I saw it, and I have a slightly different view of it. I think you're right that he tries to take these crises, some cases manufactured, to divert people's attention from bigger issues. But this speech at the heart of it was not a speech about policy. This showed the president is not serious at all about comprehensive immigration reform. It shows he's serious about politics and about the preservation of his political hide.

Remember, this is a president who did nothing to lay the foundation last year or this year for it. In the State of the Union address, out of 8,000 words, in nearly 8,000 words in his State of the Union address, he used 38 of them to describe what needed to be done on comprehensive immigration reform.

I mean, remember back earlier this year, he literally said he was being whipsawed by one Democrat who said -- Luis Gutierrez -- who said I'm not going to vote for this, for your health care reform unless you are in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. He says I'm in favor of it. And less than three weeks later, he comes out and says you know what, I'm not; I don't think there is an appetite to take it up. He's doing this for politics. He wants to get Latino votes this fall. And more importantly, he wants to get Latino votes for himself two years from now, but he could care less about the policies.

INGRAHAM: OK.

ROVE: Care less.

INGRAHAM: Yes, well, yes, setting aside the timing issue of all of this, and I would agree with you, this is an attempt to ram it through before November, maybe in a lame duck session, but do you agree with the substance of what he's saying? You and I have gone around on this for years about immigration reform. Obviously, I'm more hard-line. You're more, you know, have a pathway to legalization.

ROVE: No.

INGRAHAM: Do you agree with the president's premise?

ROVE: Well, I do agree with one point that he made today, which is that operation -- I put it slightly differently than he did. I think operational control of the border will depend upon getting a guest worker program, so that rather than having some guy who wants to come up here and pick fruit in Washington state, for example. I talked to a grower in Washington state. He pays $24 an hour. He needs 2,200 people to bring in his crop, and he can hire 550 Americans. So you know, what I want is a guest worker program, where people can come in and do jobs like that that we can't get Americans to do, and then go home. And, you know, we're not going to get operational control of the border until we get the guy who's sitting there saying, I want to go pick onions in Uvalde, Texas, for six weeks.

INGRAHAM: Right.

ROVE: I'm going to stand in line and I'm going to get that job. And until we do that, we're not going to have the degree of control we want to have on our border. But, here's my point though about this speech. You don't take a big complex issue like this and then just throw it out there with no preparation, particularly if you've got a record like President Obama's.

Let me remind you of some of the votes this guy cast when we were discussing it several years ago. He voted against an amendment by Tom Coburn to require the enforcement of existing security and immigration laws before anybody could be granted citizenship. He voted to kill the guest worker program, to sunset it after five years. He voted against an amendment that said before you can -- one of the enforcement triggers before you can begin the guest worker program, or begin to do something about the problem of the people here illegally, you've got to require that the biometric border check-in system that's been required since 1996 is actually up and operating. I mean, he has a whole series of these votes he cast.

INGRAHAM: Oh, he's not serious about it. I mean, it's clear.

ROVE: He's not serious. Look, he's even voting against amendments that Ted Kennedy agreed to because, you know, from Jon Kyl or other proponents of border security in order to win passage of the bill. You know, Obama voted against those. So, no, he is not serious about this issue. His is political. If there was a way for him to get these people legalized overnight so they could vote, he'd be for it.

INGRAHAM: Right.

ROVE: And if he could get this thing to use as a political issue for the next three months to beat up on Republicans, he'd do it, which he's doing. But about fashioning a comprehensive policy with all the details and all of the equities and all the contenders that want to come to some resolution of this, forget it. He's not serious about it.

INGRAHAM: But he says it's only going to cost, what, I guess today, $600 million. That's all it's going to cost. So I love that.

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