Rove: Clinton's speech made Obama look 'weaker'

Karl Rove analyzes President Bill Clinton's RNC speech


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY: Continuing now from Charlotte with our special coverage of the DNC. We're talking with Karl Rove who is in Richmond, Virginia tonight.

All right, Bill Clinton's speech, give me a grade on it.

ROVE: You know -- presentation, energy, pretty good. The fascination that everybody has watching him walk on the high wires and see what would happen -- you know I'd say pretty good. But substance -- mixed. He -- he did what Obama wanted him to do by saying ok, it's going to take longer. Nobody has ever gotten this done quickly.

But the reflection of the difference between Obama's record on the economy and Clinton's record on the economy make it difficult for the Democrats to say, you know what? This guy is doing the best he can after all Clinton did a heck of a lot better. There is a tension there that that was evident just simply by bringing him onto the stage. And I'm not --

O'REILLY: Yes, but they framed it -- the former President framed it in a way that he had a lot worse than I did and if he hadn't spent all this money and did what he did, we would have been in a depression, not a recession.

So he framed it in a way that the catastrophe was much deeper than anybody thought and nobody could have done it in three and a half years to turn the economy around.

So I think it was effective in that message, if you buy the message, obviously. But I thought the message was effective.

ROVE: Yes. Well, I'm not certain a lot of people buy that message. People's patience is wearing thin. They want to know what is -- why aren't you getting better at it?

You know the other interesting thing, Bill you may have noticed this, was the one major speech of the convention for which there was no advance copy and if you saw the -- if you saw the speech and particularly if you saw the shots from behind Clinton and you could see the teleprompter at the back of the room, it would go down and then stop, Clinton would rift on his own for a few, you know for ten, 15 seconds, and then pick back up on the text and stop again later and rift on his own. I mean, that speech was the reason they didn't give an advance copies is because he was making it up as he went along.

O'REILLY: Yes, I do that. And I'm not saying that facetiously. I often go off the teleprompter if I have a thought that appears. But overall, I thought Bill Clinton's speech was too long. You saw the television ratings most people were watching the football game. Not Bill Clinton.

But he did what he had to do. He made President Obama sympathetic. That's what I thought President Clinton -- he didn't make him authoritative, interestingly enough. President Clinton did not make President Obama authoritative. This is a leader. He's got it under control. He didn't do that. He made him sympathetic. Why are you beating him up? Nobody could have done better. That's my -- that was my main take away.

ROVE: Yes well you know what, you know what, I maybe -- maybe you're right, but I think it also made him look weaker which he didn't understand how bad it was and once he got in there, he has been -- he hasn't been capable of resolving it and so you need to give this guy longer.

And frankly, look, when you have high unemployment like we have, 8.3 percent above eight percent now for a record period since world -- since the Great Depression, when you got family household incomes, the median household income has dropped from $55,000 to $51,000, that's never happened before in a recovery.

When you got anemic growth, 2.2 percent for three years, after a while the excuses wear thin. And when you say, you know what, it was worse than he thought, well remember, he was saying it was the worst since the Great Depression during the campaign and warning that unless action was taken, the economy was going over the cliff. And then when he got into office, he said if we passed the stimulus bill, unemployment will top out at eight percent at the end of summer of 2009 and would be roughly 5.2 percent today.

He made all these explicit promises that have not come to pass. And so to excuse him by saying, well you know what? He really didn't know what he was getting into and he really didn't know how ineffective his proposals and initiatives would be in resolving the problem. Not exactly you know the strongest expression of support.

O'REILLY: No. And that's right. I mean, I don't -- but he did, he set the table to feel sorry for Barack Obama for people who inherently like him. They go, you know maybe that's right. We'll give him another chance.

Nobody is mentioning gas prices, which I think is going to be big. I mean people are really getting hammered.

ROVE: Yes.

O'REILLY: And not even the Republicans are going there. And I don't know why. If I were Romney and Ryan, I'd be going all over the place on the gas prices because obviously --

ROVE: Well because, in the battle --

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

ROVE: -- yes in the battle ground states, there are a bunch of television ads by the outside groups, including full disclosure, American Cross Roads, which are drawing attention to this. I think -- I think it is part of the Republican message. It's why -- it's why Mitt Romney talks about affordable supplies of energy and --

O'REILLY: Yes see it's big and it's directly -- right it's not theoretical. You're suffering. And the President has no idea, no idea how to deal with it. He doesn't even talk about it.

Now, I don't think he's going to talk about it tonight. So let's get on it to his speech tonight.

I think he's going to do what Mitt Romney did. Obviously different philosophies, but he's not going to get very specific. He's going to make all the promises he always makes. We're going to do this, we're going to do that, but he's not going to tell what you what he's going to cut, where he's going to cut it. Just like Romney didn't say that.

And I think that's smart because they don't want to get hammered this early two months before the vote. They want to leave a little wiggle room.

ROVE: Yes. You could make that argument that it's fine just to lay out the broad parameters tonight and then flesh it in later. What I'm taken by in the excerpts is how many of these promises we've heard before and how he has downsizing his promises.

For example, four years ago he said, I'm going to cut the deficit in half in my first term in office. And promising that roughly the deficit would be $580 billion a year by the end of his first term in office. Well the deficit is above a $1 trillion dollars.

So what does he promise? He promises that he's going to save $4 trillion over the next decade, but his own budget forecast that within four years, the budget deficit is still going to be over a $1 trillion.

So I mean, I was going to cut it down to $500 billion, now I'm giving you a promise it sounds better, I hope we examine that promise a little bit later. But in reality is -- is I'm going to save, I'm going to cut it to $1 trillion and basically where it is. You know he said, I'm going to cut oil imports. Tonight he's going to say I'm going to cut oil imports in half by 2020.

Last time around he said I'm going to end Middle Eastern oil within 10 years. We're not going to have any imports from Middle East within 10 years four years ago.

O'REILLY: Yes I know it's changing now. All right, we have to go to the glamour here Rove. They don't want to look at you and me anymore so let's -- we're not going to take the whole thing. Let's take a little bit of Eva Longoria, go.

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