Rove: Obama needs to deal with Putin as a president and not as a pundit

Karl Rove reacts to President Obama's comments on Putin


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 12, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly. In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, as you may know, President Putin of Russia insulted every single American by granting political asylum to NSA leaker, Edward Snowden.

The U.S.A. wants Snowden to stand trial for disseminating classified information but Putin ignored President Obama's request to send Snowden back for trial.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't have a bad personal relationship with Putin. When we have conversations, they're candid, they're blunt, oftentimes, they're constructive.

I know, the press likes to focus on body language. And he's got that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom.


O'REILLY: Well, some conservatives did not like the president's statement.


JOHN MCCAIN, SENATOR, ARIZONA (R): The president, comparing him to a kid in the back of the classroom, I think is very indicative of the president's lack of appreciation of who Vladimir Putin is.

BRAD BLAKEMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The nicest thing he said about Putin was, "Hey, we don't have a bad relationship." Yet, he called him the kid who slumps in the back of the room in a classroom.

I mean, is that what you say to a peer. Is that what you say to somebody you respect.


O'REILLY: Interesting question. But why would anyone respect Vladimir Putin. He's a human rights violator who has spit in the eye of America. Why would you respect him.

So, I like what President Obama said. I think it's accurate. Putin is an immature and irresponsible leader.

Joining us now from Washington, Fox News Analyst, Karl Rove. So, am I wrong here, Mr. Rove.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, you can play it in two different criticisms of Obama. Frankly, Senator McCain is probably closer in his view to you than you think he is.

But let's take them in and look at them separately. Brad Blakeman's point is that if you are dealing with a peer, you don't want to be insulting the peer unnecessarily.

But Vladimir Putin is a prickly personality. And the president needs to deal with him as the president. And he was dealing with him in a news conference as a pundit. He was falling back.

And he was moving -- he had good language at the beginning, "We have a constructive relationship. It is candid and blunt and, sometimes, it's constructive."

He should have stopped there. Instead though, he had to say something that was going to cause Putin to, sort of, say, "You know, the president doesn't think well of me," --

O'REILLY: So what.

ROVE: -- "And I want to get back at him." Well, because what --

O'REILLY: Well, look. We've already gotten back at him. I think that the time for being kind with Putin is over, isn't it. How much more does he have to rub our faces --

ROVE: There was never any detente with Putin. I realized this, --

O'REILLY: All right, so blank him and if he's slouching, well, let's call him a slouch because he is.

ROVE: Look, look, there's no you title n. Doing that what's useful is focusing on policy in disagreements and not doing things that give him excuse.

O'REILLY: But, wait, wait, wait, wait. What do you mean there's no utility --

ROVE: Let me finish. Let me finish.

O'REILLY: Wait, wait, wait. No, let me challenge. What do you mean there's no utility in doing it.

There comes a point when you call out the schoolyard bully and you slap him around a little bit. And that's what he did.

ROVE: Only if he thinks that you're tough. And let's go back. Let's rhyme this back.

Obama comes into office and the first thing he does is he stiffs our allies in the Czech Republic and Poland over a missile defense system for Europe, and does so unilaterally with no pre-consultation.

And Putin looks at him and says, "He'll stab his friends in the back. He's weak." He says, "Oh, I desperately want a reset with you. Let's meet. I'm going to send my secretary of state over with a little button from the, you know, reset button with -- it wasn't easy. And he looks at him and says, "What are you doing." And then he looks at him and says, "OK, the guy says Gadhafi has got to go."

And then takes no action to make him go. And it's the French and the Brits who make him go. He says, he's weak.

Two years ago, he says, "Bashar Assad has got to go." And then, Bashar Assad, two years later, is still in power. He looks at this guy and says -- Putin looks at him and says, "He's weak."

O'REILLY: All right, I'm not arguing with that.

ROVE: So, you don't want -- you know, it's like the 90-pound weakling --

O'REILLY: So, now he's going to tell that, finally, Obama is --

ROVE: -- school bully, school bully. It's not going to happen.

O'REILLY: Look, so I'm not arguing that if that Putin thinks he's weak. But, now, it's time for Obama to call him out and slap him around verbally a little bit.

ROVE: Oh, I bet it really hurt him deeply. I bet Putin is in the fetal position in his dacha, crying, because he's now being called --

O'REILLY: You just said -- you just said --

ROVE: -- he's now being called a slouch in the back of the classroom.

O'REILLY: No, Putin is a little -- he takes all this personally. If you diss him, he'll probably do something. But the -- it's over. See, it's over.

ROVE: You know what --

O'REILLY: We can't reason with Putin anymore. So, now, we just call him out.

ROVE: The way you deal with Putin is by tough policy. And stabbing our friends in the back, --

O'REILLY: All right.

ROVE: -- being feckless and indecisive in a nation, --

O'REILLY: Should we boycott the Olympics then.

ROVE: -- if we can importune and not being tough -- I'm sorry.

O'REILLY: Should we boycott the Olympics. That's tough.

ROVE: No, no. Look, look, look. That's boycotting an international event. It's not boycotting.

O'REILLY: All right, so what would you.

ROVE: Putin couldn't care less.

O'REILLY: You don't want -- you don't want to say he's a sloucher, all right. What do you want to do to Putin.

ROVE: Look, I agree with President Obama's -- I agree with President Obama's decision to say, "No meeting with Putin."

O'REILLY: He doesn't care.

ROVE: "I don't want to waste time with him. I'm going to the G20. I'm going to meet with the other world leaders. We'll meet in the context of the G20. But, Putin, I'm not spending special time with you."

O'REILLY: Yes, but Putin doesn't care.

ROVE: "It's not worth my time." A smart move on the president's part.

O'REILLY: That's not a punishment for Putin. He'll take his shirt off and go out and shoot a tiger.


ROVE: Yes, it is.

O'REILLY: He doesn't care.

ROVE: No, no, no. You know --


-- yes, no, no. Look, this, on the international stage, is a rebuke of Putin that is a right and proper rebuke. That is being tough. That's being the right way.

O'REILLY: I like Obama's vise in this. I want Obama to call Putin out verbally. I think it's necessary to do it.

ROVE: Yes, but, Bill, --

O'REILLY: And then they can make up. They can go to W's Ranch and make up.


ROVE: If you're going to call him out, don't call him the slouch in the back of the room. Take a policy disagreement and say, "With all due respect, President Putin is an autocrat. He was violating the human rights of his people."

O'REILLY: With all due respect?


ROVE: Say he is enabling violence and destabilizing the Middle East.

O'REILLY: You could do that.

ROVE: Do something in substance. Don't be sitting there calling him --

O'REILLY: You can also -- look, this is what should happen, and I think you'll agree with me here. President Obama should put me in charge of insulting Putin.


He should rise above it. I'll do it. You agree?

ROVE: You know, if the object is to insult, fine. But the object is to change his behavior and force action --

O'REILLY: He's not going to change his behavior. He's not going to change.

ROVE: Yes, you know what.

O'REILLY: He's going to give it to us every chance he gets. He's not going to change.

ROVE: You know what, you can. Yes, you can. And this is what we did with the Soviets during the Cold War with Ronald Reagan and his predecessors and successors kept focused --

O'REILLY: All right.

ROVE: -- on a policy differences and focused on the big issues, and let the personal stuff go to the side.

O'REILLY: I think Putin is a blooter.


Karl Rove, everybody.

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