Published January 13, 2015
This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," April 5, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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BRIT HUME, HOST: George W. Bush beat John Kerry by a narrow margin in an election in which both sides did an extraordinary job of getting their voters to the polls. Presidential political adviser Karl Rove (search) is considered the mastermind of the Republican turnout plan. What you may not know is that he was also the inspiration for the Democrats' plan as well.
It's all detailed in a new book called "The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy," by National Review's White House correspondent Byron York, who joins me now.
Byron, congratulations on the book.
BYRON YORK, "NATIONAL REVIEW" WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AUTHOR: Thank you.
HUME: Tell me the story of how Karl Rove's master plan to get out the vote ended up affecting the Democrats as it did?
YORK: It was called the 72-Hour Task Force. And it was a project that Rove had started after the 2000 election when the election was far, far closer than Republicans had thought it was going to be. He conducted — Rove directed an elaborate research project that came up with just mountains of information, which they boil down to a Powerpoint presentation. And what...
HUME: Powerpoint being the Microsoft presentation program that you put on slides, right?
YORK: Exactly. What I discovered was sometime in the spring of 2003, Democrats obtained a copy of that.
HUME: Does anybody have any serious idea of how that happened?
YORK: I don't. I was not able to find out how it was.
HUME: But they got a hold of it. And this was top-secret stuff? I mean it obviously was not classified, but in political terms closely held.
YORK: Yes. I asked Rove about it himself. I said did you know that they had it? And he said that after Democrats began to buzz a little bit about having it among themselves, that yes, he found out. I said do you know how they got it? He said no. I said were you surprised? He said yes. And I said well, how did you view it? And he said problematic. Which is the Rove speak for...
HUME: It was a problem.
YORK: Exactly. And furthermore, what's interesting about this is in July, 2003, when George Soros (search), the billionaire investor has decided that he wants to spend as much money as it takes to defeat President Bush, he commissions some political consultants to study the issue for it. How would my money be best spent?
And they come up with this plan. And one of the consultants who is working for him is one of the consultants who has a copy of this Rove secret document. As a matter of fact, he told me — the political consultant told me that it had been made, quote, "unintentionally available." to Democrats. Lost, stolen, leaked, I'm not sure. But when they went up to Soros' house in July 2003...
HUME: Where, his house where?
YORK: In the Hampton. It's in a mansion in the Hamptons known as El Mirador. And they presented the results of their research. They actually showed to Soros parts of the Rove plan. So it was just an extraordinary turn of events that nobody knew about outside at the time.
HUME: And what did they take away from this? First of all, from the Rove plan and second, from the presentation to Soros? What came of all in?
YORK: Well, they were doing — Democrats were doing some similar work. It was really a new way of conducting voter turnout, in which you don't rely on mass markets sort of appeals. You don't rely as much on mass mailings or television commercials.
And you instead rely on what's called voter contact. You have people actually get in touch with voters at their doorsteps. Keep up with them. Make sure they get the information they need. This is something that some Democrats...
HUME: Very large numbers of canvassers and turnout people reaching dauntibly (ph) small number of individual voters, a small enough number that they can manage them?
YORK: Exactly. This something that some Democrats had also come to in the AFL-CIO, and some of the people who are running the big democratic 527 organizations, America Coming Together that Soros gave money to. But Rove's research added this extra layer of information about what the other guys were doing. And that's what Soros saw at this meeting.
HUME: And so what happened?
YORK: Well, what happened was Soros gave $20 million to America Coming Together? And as a matter of fact...
HUME: America Coming Together is what?
YORK: The biggest Democratic 527 group that was dedicated entirely to voter contact, to voter turnout. And as a matter of fact, a group of people around Soros, most of whom were actually associates with his, George Soros: Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance, Steven Beng, a Hollywood mogul, and Herbert and Mary and Sandler who run — who founded a savings and loan in California. Together they gave $78 million to the anti-Bush effort. And just to give you an idea of how much that is, the entire federal government gave George Bush and John Kerry $75 million to run their entire general election campaign.
HUME: This was the matching funds?
YORK: Exactly. So five people on the Democratic side gave more than the amount needed for the entire campaign on either side.
HUME: And so — and what is the connection between what you called the vast left wing conspiracy and these events?
YORK: Well, you will find if you look — the book is about moveon.org, the 527's, Michael Moore, Air America Radio and Al Franken, and how they work often together to create this big political movement. And you will find that they did often work in rather close coordination. MoveOn worked, for example, closely with Moore and with America Coming Together.
HUME: The question then arises is they did a bang-up job on getting the vote out. Bush got a record number of votes but so did Kerry.
HUME: Everybody agrees the Democrats did a great job of getting their out vote. The question then becomes with all of these forces, why did they lose?
YORK: Well, I think that John Kerry deserves a lot of the responsibility for having lost. The point of what they were doing is to try to build a new political machine that they could put in motion now and in the years to come.
HUME: We have not, therefore, then heard the last of this?
YORK: Absolutely not.
HUME: And the groups associated with it.
YORK: That's correct.
HUME: Byron York, great to have you. Hope to have you back soon.
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