OTR Interviews

Rove: Obama dropped his very specific promises to the American people down the 'memory hole'

Voters may feel that they've given Obama enough time to fix the economy, despite his DNC plea


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, it's official, President Obama is the Democratic nominee, again.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Madam Chairwoman, delegates, I accept your nomination for president of the United States.

So you see, the election four years ago wasn't about me. It was about you.

My fellow citizens, you were the change. If you turn away now, if you turn away now, if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn't possible, well, change will not happen.

If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void. The lobbyists and special interests. The people with $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election. And those who are trying to make it harder for you to vote.

Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry or control health care choices that women should be making for themselves.


America, I never said this journey would be easy. And I won't promise that now. Yes, our path is harder. But it leads to a better chase place.


Yes, our road is longer but we travel it together. We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories and we learn from our mistakes but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon knowing that providence stays with us. And that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on earth.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless these United States.



VAN SUSTEREN: And we are live in Charlotte, North Carolina, and this is the most-important night of the Democratic National Convention. So how did President Obama do? Karl Rove joins us.

Nice to see you, Karl. So, Karl, let's start with your general -- overview opinion of this.

KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, look. It -- this man and his teleprompter are quite a team. You put him in front of a teleprompter with a pedestrian speech, and he'll punch it through and deliver it in a way that it comes across a lot more powerful on the screen than it reads. And that's what happened tonight.

I thought this was a so-so speech delivered in a very powerful fashion. I was struck by a couple of things. The biggest thing was -- I love this line. "I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick and easy. I never have." Suddenly all those very specific promises of what would happen and how quickly they would happen, if we pass the stimulus bill unemployment would top out at 8 percent by the end of the summer of 2009, and be at 5 percent today.

He was going to create millions of manufacturing jobs. Five million green energy jobs. We're going to have your health insurance costs. The average family of four would see their premium drop by $2500 by the end of 2010. He would cut the deficit in half in his first four years.

All of these things were very specific and very precise and very quick, if you will, promises none of which have been of delivered and yet the president today dropped every one of those down the memory hole.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, apparently Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, agrees with you. He tweeted, I (INAUDIBLE) my Twitter account tonight and it was just rolling throughout the speech from all sorts of -- but he says, why would anyone believe these new promises from Barack Obama when he hasn't even begun to fulfill the ones from '08?

Did it not seem that the president was cognizant to the fact that he had promised things before and now he was just saying well, it's going to take more time?

ROVE: Well, and part of that is yes, that's true. But also what got me was that the promises got scaled back. For example, tonight he said, I'm going cut oil imports in half by 2020. Four years ago he said we're going to end Middle East -- the import of Middle Eastern oil by -- you know, in 2018.

You know tonight he said I'm going to create one million jobs in manufacturing. Four years ago, he said I'm going to create millions of jobs in manufacturing. Five million in green energy alone.

I'm going to train, he said tonight two million workers through community colleges for new jobs, well, wait a minute, he's already said that he was going to do that. In fact Congress approved legislation to begin that process.

He said I'm going to cut tonight -- cut the growth of college expenses in half in the next four years. And you know four years ago he said I'm going to cut the cost of education by $4,000 per student. And you know, and he hasn't delivered on those. Perhaps the most interesting one was he said I'm going to cut $4 trillion out of the budget deficit. And, you know what? That just simply not true.

He counts that a trillion dollars in spending in deficit reduction that Congress approved last year and he's counting it again going forward. There is $848 billion in phantom war costs. He assumes that we continue Iraq and Afghanistan indefinitely and then since we've ended the Iraq war on George W. Bush's schedule incidentally, and we're ending Afghanistan in 2014 he then counts those phantom savings.

He has $800 billion in interest payments that we don't have to make and he calls that a spending cut. And then finally he makes no account for the $716 billion that he's borrowing from Medicare and has to repay. Or the $53 billion he's borrowing from Social Security for Obamacare, for the Affordable Care Act in which we have to repay.

If you really look at his budget, if you look at his budget, what he's put there in black and white and ask Congress to pass versus the GOP House budget, President Obama calls for a trillion dollars more in spending than is called for in the House Republican budget and it calls for $300 billion more in taxes. So in essence, he's increasing the deficit by $700 billion above what the Republicans have been suggesting we do. And yet, tonight he went out there and said, I'm going to cut this $4 trillion. It just -- it just simple wasn't believable.

VAN SUSTEREN: I thought it was interesting, one of the themes the Republican National Convention last week in Tampa was this whole team of you didn't build it, which they've been slamming the president for that. Tonight we didn't hear that at all in the president's speech but that was essentially the theme is that everyone sort of worked together as a community, as a citizen.

So I thought that he was directly trying to respond to that without using those buzz words which have been so inflammatory.

ROVE: Well, I think he was sensitive about it . Tonight we had a paragraph in which he praised business owners and operators and entrepreneurs for creating enterprises. But that wasn't his attitude in Roanoke, Virginia, in July. But he's been blistered ever since and I think as a result, he was trying to temper his comments.

You know there is one other thing I thought was interesting was, you know, we saw it in the film but the president never mentioned the word stimulus. You know, which was the big domestic accomplishment designed to jump start the economy, and again, while it was mentioned in the film he himself never said the words Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act and glossed over these two things.

He knows the first one has been considered by most Americans as an utter failure. You know a number of polls showed that two out of every three Americans believe that his economic policies have either not helped the economy or have actually hurt our economic progress. We got 2.2 percent growth since the recession ended in June of 2009. That is the most anemic recovery since World War II.

We've got high unemployment as a result. We've got family incomes, the median family income has dropped over $4,000. The first time that's ever happened in a recession. And he sort of glossed over that with -- by not mentioning the stimulus and of course the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare is highly unpopular. Again he didn't mention that in his speech.

I thought it was telling that, you know, somebody said, Mr. President there've been a lot of people who are going to be watching tonight, we'll put it in the film which will be seen by people who turn them cable TV, but let's not put it in the primetime that's going to be seen by a broader number of people.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think this speech -- I mean the whole -- I'll tell you, the arena here was all revved up. They're very excited. They're excited to hear President Obama speak. I'm curious, though, because I always go back to the undecideds. We've seen the polls, we've seen this as neck and neck across with the ones who have decided across the country. I'm always focusing on the undecided. Do you have any sort of thought or vision as to what impact on the undecided?

ROVE: I don't think it got it done for them. You're right. That arena was on fire. Fired up and ready to go as he said four years ago. And look, everybody who walked into that arena tonight was passionate about Barack Obama. Everyone left the arena tonight passionate about it. But I think the average American is going sit there and say, wait a minute. You know? You told us all of this stuff would happen and it didn't. And now you're telling me that you need four more years before you can begin to show progress?

And I think the president also damaged himself by this habit that he has of strawmen. He can't treat his opponents with any kind of intellectual rigor or honesty, he has to say things like they believe that government should do almost nothing. Really? I -- you know, I haven't heard them say that. He said they want to turn Social Security over to Wall Street. Really? Who? And how?

And the whole speech was filled with these occasional references to -- muted references to his Republican opponents but always in the context of, you know, some kind of strawman, some false -- build up of a false image of who you're running against and then smash it down and declare yourself the victor. I mean if you're not with him, who are you? You're with the lobbyists and the special interests, he said.

I mean, can't even have the respect that people can have an honest disagreement with him about his policies without being lumped in with the special interest and the lobbyist? I mean these kind of strawmen were unbecoming and the independent voters who've been hearing this for four months, five months since the end of the Republican primary and they haven't been impressed with it which is why the president stuck in a -- you know, dead even match with Mitt Romney.