Anatomy of a smear campaign: Paper portrays Romney as bully

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 11, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The Washington Post hit piece on Mitt Romney attempting to portray him as an antigay bully in high school continues to unravel tonight. Now earlier today, ABC News caught up with the sister of the alleged bully victim. Now, she expressed outrage over the story and said she had no knowledge of the incident in question.

Now, her brother John Lauber died in 2004 but said, "if he were still alive today he would be furious about the story." But the left leaning paper apparently does not seem to really care. And today, even after numerous holes that have been punched in the story, they chose to publish the article about Romney's high school pranks on the front page.

Now, if John Kerry was counting on Dan Rather's help during the '04 campaign, it certainly looks like President Obama has the Washington Post in his corner in 2012. And that is exactly why we will do the work that the mainstream media refuses to do on this program, and that is reminding you the voters about this president's words and his actions.

Here with more on this is former Bush adviser, Fox News contributor Karl Rove. Karl, welcome back to the program.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me back, Sean.

HANNITY: All right. So, we got to go all the way back to 1965.

Look, you know, high school, and Mitt Romney. On the day after the president announces that he has flipped and flopped -- I'm sorry, evolved for the fifth time on his position on gay marriage, you think a coincidence or do you think the White House is coordinating with the Washington Post?

ROVE: Oh, I think coincidence but helpful. And look, you know, think about what we've learned in the last 48 hours about President Obama's decision making. Apparently, according to White House leaks to the media, he'd made this decision at some time in the past. He was sitting on it and going to hold it until the time just before the conventions in order to get the maximum political benefit from it. How callous is that? He's got this important referenda coming in North Carolina and he can't be counted upon to be heard on one side or the other?

You know, it is ironic. It weakens the image that we have of the president as a strong leader. He made this change and was going to sit on it until he thought he could milk it for the best political advantage for h his re-election campaign.

HANNITY: All right. I'm viewing this as a little bit though as anatomy of the smear campaign. If they think they have to go back in 1965, an 11 page printed story, small print when you print it on your computer, followed up by an article today. If this is going to be legitimate news, then I think we've got to go back and there has got to be some fair play and I expect that the Washington Post is going to do a story about the bullying of Barack Obama in his own words from his own book "Dreams From My Father." Here is the audio version.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Finally, during recess one hot cloudless day we found ourselves occupying the same quarter of the playground. I don't remember what we said to each other but I remember that suddenly she was chasing me around the jungle gyms and swings. She was laughing brightly. And I teased her and dodged this way and that until she finally caught me and we fell to the ground breathless.

When I looked up, I saw a group of children faceless before the glare of the sun pointing down at us, "Coretta has a boyfriend! Coretta has a boyfriend!"

The chants grew louder as more kids circled around us. "She is not my girlfriend," I stammered.

I looked to Coretta for some assistance but she just stood there looking down at the ground. "Coretta has got a boyfriend! Why don't you kiss her, Mr. Boyfriend?"

"I'm not her boyfriend!" I shouted.

I ran up to Coretta and gave her a slight shove. She staggered back and looked up at me but still said nothing.

"Leave me alone!" I shouted again. And suddenly, Coretta was running faster and faster until she disappeared from sight. Appreciative laughs rose around me and the bell rang and the teachers appeared to round us back into class.


HANNITY: Now, there is some part of this that I find humorous. But there's a point here. The media, I think, Karl, is a story and the media here has decided to do an 11-page, you know, expose on a 1965 so-called bullying incident with Mitt Romney. Is this legitimate?

ROVE: Look, this is not really important and here is the other thing. Is this the best they can do?

HANNITY: I agree. I think it's funny.

ROVE: You know, I mean they have to go back to the -- I mean look, we all when we were young and stupid, we were young and stupid. And, you know, so what? And also look, think about this. You played that passage of the audio book. We now know that these are composite characters. We have no idea whether this was a real person or not. The President's acknowledged that these are composites of various people that he may have come across.

I mean, please, let's get on to more important things. Let's get on to things that have to do with their real character as adults and with their real values and views as adults and most important of all the real values views and actions as political leaders. And President Obama, he likes this, he wants this kind of discussion all day long. If we are talking about Mitt Romney's, you know, pranks as a student in high school, we are not talking about a dismal economy, a failed stimulus bill, a health care bill that people hate, and a president who has failed to lead this country as he led us to believe he would.

HANNITY: All right. Now, there seems to be all these tactics. Now, of course, we know they are playing class carfare. We know, they have got this manufactured war on women. Allies of the president this week -- and by the way, I had no idea, Karl, I would have re-evaluated our friendship after I discovered this week you are contract killer. I had no idea that was, you know.

ROVE: Yes. Watch out. Be very careful. Be very careful. You know, we are dangerous. We contract killers, people who kill other people for money. I mean, how demeaning is that for the president's re-election campaign to be using labels like that. I mean, please. I mean, I actually sent a message to Axelrod, thanks for raising my profile and making me look like a tough guy.

HANNITY: All right. I think most people would argue you are tough.

But think about this strategy. Class warfare. They play it regularly. The president's leading the way. Republicans wants dirty air and water. Then you got Al Sharpton saying that there is a war against black Americans. Then you got Howard Dean, another supporter of the president, going out there saying, Republicans don't like Latinos and then the artificial war on women.

I mean, dividing the country all the way across and then they bring up this issue with their friends in the media about Mitt Romney. What does that tell us about them? It tells us, what? They can't run on "are you better off than you were four years ago?"

ROVE: It also means, they can't run on the basis of prospective vision, what are you going to do for the country? I thought it was interesting. At the president's speech at Virginia Commonwealth University in Ohio State, he had a really interesting reiteration. He said, you know, I still believe that we are not divided, we're Republicans -- we're not Republicans and Democrats, we are Americans. And then later on in his speech says, Mitt Romney quote, "Mitt Romney sincerely believes that as long as millionaires like him are doing well, then the rest of the country is OK."

Wait a minute, Romney sincerely believes what? Where did he exactly say that, Mr. President? So, yes, we're going to see this continually, the president is going to try and sound good and sound like he is our leader and then he's going to engage in the worst and most shameless kind of political, you know, smear making by saying Romney believes it this, he sincerely believes this. Oh, really?

HANNITY: Let me ask you this. Now, I will play in the next segment, the President in his own words admitting that he rarely went to school. That he drank a lot and used drugs enthusiastically. That he even did cocaine and he said drugs plural. Where are the media questions about this? Where's his thesis? He is the most transparent president ever. Where are his college grades and by the way, if he didn't attend high school on a regular basis, how did he get into these Ivy League schools? Fair questions?

ROVE: Yes, but look, but let's get beyond it. And the media is never going to cover that. This is exactly where he wants us to go it into this kind of stuff. Let's keep focused on the things that the American people know a lot about.

HANNITY: The economy.

ROVE: -- and are willing to judge him on which is the economy. This guy told us, he said, if you want to know, quote, "exactly what's going to happen," he waved around that memo from Christine Romer and Jared Bernstein on January 10th of 2009, they're written at the day before. And he said, if you want to know exactly what is going to happen, look at this. Well, it said, unemployment topped out at eight percent at the end of the summer of 2009 and it would be six percent today. You know, he said, we're going to have a great recovery. If we had the average recovery, the per capita GDP would be about $4,500 per person bigger and there would be 13 million more Americans working.

So, let's go at him on the things that happened in the last three or four years and judge him by that. Let's let the media go out there and make themselves irrelevant by going back and examining -- you know, I thought the family today. You know, hats off to the family saying, we don't want our family to be used for political purposes and we are not going to say any more about this. I thought that was classy. If the Washington Post was half as classy, they wouldn't have run the story in the first place.

HANNITY: Eleven long pages. Karl, good to see you. I appreciate your point of view on this, on this program. We will continue to cover both aspects as we can walk and chew gum.

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