Karl Rove Analyzes Sarah Palin Pick and Obama's Acceptance Speech

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This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 29, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, let's bring in Karl Rove, who just landed in Minnesota, to analyze Obama's speech and Governor Palin's selection.

Were you as surprised as most people, Mr. Rove, about that?

Click here to watch Karl Rove on "The O'Reilly Factor."

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I was. This is John McCain at the most John McCainish. You know, the maverick independent senator from Arizona decides to discard all the conventional wisdom and picks the maverick reformer from Alaska as his running mate. And she turns out to be a gun-toting, hockey-playing, basketball-playing woman.

O'REILLY: OK. Now the big disadvantage is her inexperience. Would you cede that point?

ROVE: I would. But you know what? Let's have a battle if need be between the Democrats saying she's inexperienced, when she says I've been governor for two years and I'm the only person who's got executive experience. And oh incidentally, the guy who's at the top of your ticket has been in the United States Senate for three and a half years, and he spent most of that time out running for president. I mean, that's a battle I'm not sure the Democrats really want to have, because it highlights the inexperience of their candidate, who frankly has no executive experience. And he spent most of the last two years while she's been governor, he spent it on the campaign trail.

O'REILLY: OK, but it takes away an offensive weapon from John McCain, because he was an…

ROVE: I don't think…

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

ROVE: I don't know if it takes it away, but it certainly diminishes it. I'll accept that.

O'REILLY: Right.

ROVE: But I'm not certain again if I was Obama if I'd want to get in an argument about the relative I've got four years in the United States Senate and she's got two years as governor and that makes me qualified to be president but her not. I'm not certain that's an argument he would necessarily win.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, this is a pure demographic play, I believe. And you are the king of research in election strategy based upon what you know about voter profiles. It seems to me the McCain campaign learned two things in their research. No. 1, that putting Romney on the ticket was two rich white guys and not going to help them with women voters. And No. 2, they need women voters to get elected. So that's what Governor Palin's selection is all about. Am I wrong?

ROVE: Well, the second, I think, is right. I think they said look, there are two groups of women up for grabs in this election. One are the Hillary Clinton sort of blue collar, older, working-class women. And the other group are the suburban, soft Republicans and independent women, and that's a big voter group that they've decided to go after.

But I disagree with the first. I think it's a different thing, if I could suggest. I think what his people, and I've picked this up in talking to him over the last several weeks. I just didn't read the signal leading to Sarah Palin. But they said look, we're in better shape than we should be. The race is essentially 1 or 2 points. We've had 6, 8, 10 good weeks. He's had three bad months. But what do we do in order to keep it for the last nine weeks shook up in a dynamic moving our way? So I think part of this is they said look, we're going to pick somebody that we think will give such energy, be such a wow, be such a big, different, out of the blue deal that people will say, hey, let's give another look at McCain and his running mate. And that's, I think, exactly what they've achieved today.

O'REILLY: Well, they certainly are running a campaign that is surprising, and they stole Obama's thunder. Who's talking about his speech today? This Palin…

ROVE: My point. My point.

O'REILLY: Yes, I mean, but it's, that's a one-day victory. Now you've had almost…

ROVE: Well, they've got a five-day victory here. You know, the convention will be energized by this.

O'REILLY: Yes, absolutely.

ROVE: This will last into next week.

O'REILLY: That's right.

ROVE: And the real question, you've hit on it, you've alluded to it, the 62 days that follow the convention are going to determine whether this was a great idea with durability and impact on the election, or whether it was, you know, a nice idea that faded in its…

O'REILLY: Yes, it's fascinating, but it makes it just the most interesting election I've seen in my lifetime.

Now you've had 24 hours, about, to think about Barack Obama's speech. And look, I'm a hardcore guy, problem solving, I want guys to solve problems. I don't care about the party system at all. Couldn't care less about it. All right? I understand what Barack Obama did last night was try to unify the Democratic Party under an umbrella of a generalized Democratic speech. Now, that bothered me a little bit, but I don't think it bothered a lot of people. I think a lot of people thought it was just swell.

ROVE: Well, look, he had a chance last night in this incredible venue to give a memorable, remarkable speech because it was that kind of a moment. I mean, we've had the first African-American to carry his party's banner into the general election for president, and it was an historical moment.

But I think the speech fell short. I think it was — it had three parts, and two of the parts, the first part and the last part, were at war with each other. The first part was a full-throated attack on McCain, the old style politics. And the final third of the speech was a call for a new style of politics and an explicit rejection of the old style of politics.

So you can't be saying I reject old style politics if you've started off by saying let me demonstrate I'm a really great practitioner of old style politics, because again, the criticism tended to be over the top, and as you point out, a little bit exaggerated. I mean, the suggestion that somehow or another if John McCain didn't know where Usama bin Laden's cave was, or if he knew where it was he wouldn't go get him, is, you know, not real.

O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Rove, we will see you out in St. Paul next week. We thank you very much. Karl Rove just got off the plane, came right over to us, and we really appreciate it. Thanks, Karl.

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