Bitter Exchange of the Day: Rove v. Burton
In what was one of the liveliest and most heated exchanges of the week, former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove and President Obama's former deputy press secretary Bill Burton traded barbs on "Fox News Sunday" over who is responsible for gridlock in Washington.
The conversation turned to accusations, with both men defending the administrations they served while also taking the other to task. For Burton, he questioned the Bush administration's attempts at "good governance." Rove shot back at Burton over Obama's record as a senator and tried to school him for impugning the president's opponents' motives.
The following is a partial transcript of the conversation:
KARL ROVE: The president set up political battle. He had the votes in November and December of last year to get his, quote, "clean debt" ceiling. But instead, he said he wanted the Republicans to, quote, "have ownership" in the deficit. So, he waited until there is a Republican House and then tried to jam them, insisting on a clean debt ceiling. The Republicans said we want to have deficit reduction before we vote for an increase in the debt ceiling. They got it. The president applauded that bill and signed it.
So, you know, I love it. The Republicans passed a budget. The Democrats in the Senate haven't. The Republicans have passed a slew of job creating measures and the Democrats in the Senate haven't.
And the president now sits here and lectures us about how we need to take action. Well, what is his action? He has yet put pen to paper and issue a jobs plan or a deficit reduction plan in the last nine months.
BILL BURTON: You know, Karl --
ROVE: So, please, don't talk to me about ideological rigidity. It came from your White House.
BURTON: -- but as someone who is a leader in the White House that turned a record surplus into a deficit that got us involved in a war that we never shouldn't have been in and turned the floor of the New York Stock Exchange into a casino, I don't think the American people are quite ready to hear a lecture from you on good governance.
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST BRET BAIER: Hold on, Bill.
ROVE: You know, Bill --
BAIER: Hold on, Karl.
ROVE: I appreciate the insults, Bill --
ROVE: The fact of the matter is, is you talk about the financial difficulties we had in 2008, I remember your boss coming to the United States Senate in 2005 and blocking the bill that attempted to rein in Fanny and Freddie before -- while we still had in time to stop disaster from coming and your man joined in a filibuster by every Democrat of the reform bill and then turned around in October of 2008 and finally belatedly voted for it.
And you have you -- want to criticize the Iraq war, you got a secretary of state in your administration who voted for it.
BAIER: OK. Let me just ask the question that he posed originally and that is the plan. That is a lot of people asking, are asking where is the plan? Waiting on the speech. The Senate Democrats have not passed budget in x number of days, almost two years. What about answering that part of Karl's charges?
BURTON: OK. So, that piece of a question. What has the president done to create jobs? There are things that he could sign into law right now if Congress would move forward on it. The payroll tax, the infrastructure banks, trade deals.
BAIER: Well, the trade deals are still in the White House according to Republicans on Capitol Hill, that they haven't sent them over from the White House to Senator McConnell.
BAIER: So, that's thing that's not over.
BURTON: The point is that there are things that Congress could do right now that could help to create jobs. And you're going to hear from the president very soon, on more ideas that he has about this.
And just back to one thing that Karl said -- Karl, yes, I was in that meeting where the president made that point to Eric Cantor. And the point was, yes, elections have consequences and what president needs in Washington are partners who will work with him to actually make progress in this country, not just people like Eric Cantor and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell who would much rather see the economy do poorly so that they can score political points than see America succeed.
ROVE: Bill, with all due respect -- do not question motivations and the integrity of the people on the other side. It's a really bad way to try and get partners. I don't --
ROVE: We can't have -- we can't have a predictive -- we can't have a political disagreement without me questioning your motivations. That's not a way to get partners.
BAIER: One at a time.
ROVE: You mentioned a series of ideas, the Democrats a hoping that
BAIER: Everybody has got to stop.
ROVE: And the president has yet to lay out -- the president has yet to lay out a plan. You mentioned the infrastructure bank -- Democrats have opposed infrastructure bank saying we don't have more money that the government can to lend to bailout certain businesses.
BURTON: Karl, the president --
BURTON: There's a difference between whether or not there's a plan or whether or not Karl Rove endorses it.
ROVE: The president has talked about -- yes, there is no the plan. The president has talked briefly, sort of raised a little bit of the curtain to suggest that he's going to ask for an extension to payroll tax holiday, temporary tax cuts don't encourage economic growth. We've had payroll tax cut this year and had we gotten robust economic growth as a result? No.
BAIER: OK. I'm trying to be the traffic cop here. And there's a little delay, Karl, so I know you can't hear right now when I try to jump in -- and I'm sure that's why haven't stopped when I have.ROVE: Not really, Bret.