This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 18, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, tonight, accusations are flying. Is the Democratic Party behind the massive demonstration in Madison, Wisconsin? Is the Democratic Party pushing teachers to abandon their classrooms and march on Madison? Many are pointing fingers directly back at President Obama and the Democratic National Committee. The group Organizing for America is working under the DNC and is mobilizing supporters to rally on. Now, the DNC says their role in this is being exaggerated.
Former senior adviser to President George Bush, Karl Rove, joins us. Good evening, Karl. And The Washington Post reports that Organizing for America, which is the political arm for the president's political operation, got involved after the DNC chair, Tim Kaine, spoke to union leaders in Madison. Any problem with that?
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER BUSH SENIOR ADVISER: Yes, I think it's unusual. Why is the President of the United States using his own personal political arm to try and muscle the Republican governor of Wisconsin on a local issue? And could they also be encouraging -- look, Wisconsin state law prohibits teachers from having these kind of strikes. It prohibits state employees from walking off their jobs without permission. And their contracts do, as well. And yet we've seen for the last several days the state capitol is filled with teachers and filled with state government employees who have walked off their jobs. This is in violation of state law and it's in violation of their collective bargaining agreements with either the state or with their local school district.
So is the Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America, which has been providing buses, making phone calls, organizing the protests -- have they been, in essence, facilitating people breaking the law? And I just think this is amazing! I mean, it's, like, you know, what is the president of the United States doing muscling -- trying to muscle the state legislature in Wisconsin and the governor through using the Democratic National Committee and its own political arm, Organizing for America, to try and get an outcome that he wants to benefit the labor movement?
I mean, I know Gerald McEntee, the head of AFSCME, the union that represents state and local government employees, said that if Wisconsin was able to succeed at this, it would place at risk the $400 million that the unions are likely to spend on Obama's behalf in 2012. But is that a good enough reason to go about doing this?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, it's sort of interesting. I wondered and I went back a little bit in history. I had some research done to see in the 2003 Texas redistricting, when some Texas lawmakers, Republicans, did essentially the same thing, went to another state -- I went to see if - - I went back to try to see if I could see what President Bush said then. And actually, to -- President Bush, from the statements that were said -- he was asked about it, but he said, I get blamed for a lot of things, but I wasn't going to get involved in it. And he said that it was a local matter. So he -- in a similar situation, he stayed out of it. But you know, it's sort of interesting that President Obama gets involved in this. And I wonder if it's in part because he won by 14 points in 2008, and now it's such a -- it's such a different state than 2008. I wonder if he worries about losing Wisconsin and is trying to build up his capital there?
ROVE: Well, absolutely. Look, the Republicans took both houses of the legislature, took the governorship, elected two Republicans, defeating Democrats, including one incumbent, and then in a huge upset, defeated Senator Feingold, Ron Johnson, a political neophyte, took him out.
And yes, as you know -- you know Wisconsin better than I do. Wisconsin voters are notoriously independent. And President Obama could no more count on them in 2012 just simply because he won in 2008. But again, here's the -- you know, here's the thing. What is the Democratic National Committee and the president's own political arm, his own political organization, doing messing around in this issue? You know, what great national issue is at stake here that requires the president of the United States to use political capital and his police muscle for what is essentially a state issue?
Doesn't that make you -- it makes me feel queasy that a president of the United States would be intruding into a state's affairs this way, just like he did on the Arizona issue last year, just as he did when he, you know, started making comments about the Cambridge police when they arrested a professor friend of his at Harvard. I mean, this is -- this is a little bit -- you know, the president ought to tend to his business and let other people tend to theirs.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, as long as it's not unlawful. And I don't think it's unlawful. I mean, it seems...
VAN SUSTEREN: There seems to be a political thread through this because, look, I mean, his -- if the unions get shot down by the governor in the state of Wisconsin, then next is Ohio. And you know, you lose those two states, and you are really -- you really got problems going into 2012. So assuming that there's nothing improper that way, he's got to keep these unions happy. And he's got to win this issue in Wisconsin or he's going to have big troubles next in Ohio.
ROVE: Well, you said it -- you know, you touched on the question of legality. Is it legal for the Democratic National Committee to be encouraging and facilitating teachers calling in sick, which is a lie, in order to attend a protest? They are violating their contract. Is that tortuous interference with the contract that exists between a local school district and the teachers?
I mean, the Madison -- the Madison school district shut down because more than half of the nearly 4,000 teachers called in sick. Is it tortuous interference with a contract that exists between the state government and state employees if the Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America are helping facilitate state workers walking off of their responsibilities in order to camp out in the rotunda of the state capitol and protest this action?
I mean, it strikes me that there is a question of legality here. There's certainly a question of appropriateness. And it's highly inappropriate. And I suspect it may be illegal. It's certainly illegal for these teachers to be calling in sick when they really are not sick and really are attending a protest. Same for state employees.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well...
ROVE: And we're likely to see some sanctions against some of these employees and teacher as a result of this.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think we're going to get the answer in the next segment, so you should stick around because that's one of the questions I have, Karl, whether it is lawful or not lawful. And a judge tonight ruled that it wasn't a strike but a work stoppage. I don't know what the differences with that is, but I'll find out from a lawyer, a labor lawyer in Wisconsin, coming up next. Karl, thank you.
ROVE: You bet.