Karl Rove on Palin Family Drama

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This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 2, 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 FOX News analyst Karl Rove for a look at the situation and the convention in general, which is underway for the first time here.

You know, everybody was waving at you. I saw that.

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH ADVISER: They're waving at you.

O'REILLY: No, they don't like me.

ROVE: No, no, no, come on.

O'REILLY: Who can blame them? Who can blame them?

ROVE: Get rid of this bad attitude.

O'REILLY: OK. 48 hour news cycle, Governor Palin and her teenage daughter. You're not surprised though, right?

ROVE: Well, I'm surprised that it's taken the tone that it has, which is, you know, like, you know, Ms. O'Donnell and her pontificating in some of these editorials like the op-eds that you pointed out.

I think though most Americans are looking at this and saying either our family or somebody in our friendship circle, a friend or a neighbor, has had to go through this. And I think they're going to judge the Palin family the same way they judge any other family that faces this kind of challenge. And that is how do they handle it, which is why I thought the statement yesterday struck the absolute right note, which was our child — our daughter is going to have a child. We're delighted that she's made the choice to carry the child to term and that we're going to be grandparents, but she and her husband to be are going to find out that raising…

O'REILLY: It's a tough road.

ROVE: …tough road.

O'REILLY: Right, but the CNN commentator that we used, I mean, she's basically saying, well, what kind of a mother would put her teenage daughter in the spotlight worldwide and pressure and shouldn't she bow out for the good of her daughter? That was the implication of the CNN analysis. Is that a fair analysis?

ROVE: No, I don't think so. Look, there are personal — there are things that intrude into a family's life. Did we see her making those same comments, for example, when John Edwards entered the presidential contest with his wife suffering cancer, for example? Did we see these same commentaries when Nancy Pelosi, then a mother of five, entered politics running for Congress when her youngest child was still in high school? I mean, please, we live in a modern society in which people are capable of making choices about their careers that they're going to follow, and if those careers include public service they have…

O'REILLY: All right. Now the conservative part of the United States says The New York Times and CNN and NBC News are exploiting the situation for political gain, all right. They're trying to wipe out Sarah Palin early, put her on the defense, keep her on there so that Barack Obama can win the White House. Do you see that as a strategy? Is that what's going on here?

ROVE: Well, I think that…

O'REILLY: …rather than legitimate concern.

ROVE: Look, I think — I don't want to be completely conspiracy driven, but there is something to me that — look, this stuff started popping up on the Daily Kos about Governor Palin's fifth child.

O'REILLY: The Down syndrome baby.

ROVE: The Down syndrome baby.

O'REILLY: Right.

ROVE: Actually being the daughter — the son of her daughter.

O'REILLY: It was ridiculous.

ROVE: And mainstream media was going around trying to follow that. I mean, that's part of what poked this all up. I've seen today, I've been hearing things that the mainstream media is asking now about the family personal nature, which is all being driven off the blogs. Now the blogs are not journalists. They are people who aren't bound by any standard of accountability.

O'REILLY: But journalists can make their determination. You're actually saying what I think is that they're using Palin to try to get Barack Obama elected.

ROVE: Sure.

O'REILLY: The mainstream media is.

ROVE: Sure, absolutely.

O'REILLY: And you believe that?

ROVE: I do.

O'REILLY: OK. Biden, Joe Biden — look at him looking at me. So Rove shows up at a main event, and he calls Biden a — correct me if I'm wrong, I wasn't there, but according to the reports — a blowhard dufus.

ROVE: Well, there were 30 people in the room, and I didn't know…

O'REILLY: What's a dufus?

ROVE: Well…

O'REILLY: I don't even know what that is.

ROVE: Well, let me put this in appropriate terms. I — sometimes we say things in private that we wouldn't say in public. But I'll defend the idea that this guy is overrated and wrong when it comes to foreign policy.

O'REILLY: OK, but you called him a dufus. What is a dufus? What is that?

ROVE: Well, a dufus is somebody who talks too long, talks too loud, and doesn't say much at all.

O'REILLY: All right, so you were redundant then. Blowhard and dufus is pretty much the same thing.

ROVE: Well, I'm not saying that I said blowhard, so…

O'REILLY: All right. Now Biden, he's of course — they run to Biden, and they say Rove said you were blow dufus. And Biden says, "He's a great American," which was fun.

ROVE: Very fun.

O'REILLY: This is harmless stuff. You don't have anything against Joe Biden?

ROVE: No, but look, I do think — look, he in Washington has this reputation as a big foreign policy expert, and I don't see it. For example, during the battle over the surge, look, he voted for the Iraq war. Now it's very strange to me, Senator Obama says Senator McCain does not deserve to be president because he voted for the Iraq war, and picks a running mate who voted for the Iraq war. If it disqualifies John McCain…

O'REILLY: But he was enlightened. He got it out and he voted against the surge.

ROVE: Well, but he opposed the surge. That's right. And what was his answer? His answer, after attacking the United States for acting unilaterally, Senator Biden's solution was that the United States government should unilaterally go in and divide up a sovereign nation — the sovereign nation of Iraq, divide it into Kurdish, Shia, and Sunni, which everybody I've talked to, or a large number of people that I've talked to who are foreign policy experts, that that would have emboldened Iran by creating a Shia state to be dominated by…

O'REILLY: They'd be dominated in the south, right.

ROVE: Would have created further tension in the Middle East by putting Sunni against Shia. Would have torn up our relations.

O'REILLY: But you're just not buying that he's…

ROVE: No, you know, he's a chairman of Foreign Relations.

O'REILLY: But he's not a bad guy, is he?

ROVE: No, but I just — look, the guy can ask a question in the Senate using more words than you and I could come up with…

O'REILLY: Not me, you. I'm the worst.

ROVE: …and not ask a question. I mean, how many times have we seen him in hearings take this, you know, sort of asking this question and go about touching about 13 different dimensions before he finally comes back and finishes his conversation without a question.

O'REILLY: OK. Now tomorrow's a big night for the governor — or for Palin?

ROVE: Right, absolutely.

O'REILLY: Because she's got to turn it around and take the emphasis away from the soap opera, as I said, and turn it into policy. And that's what she's working on right now.

ROVE: Yes, look, I think it's even more than that. I think she's not only got to, through the way that between now and then, help dampen this stuff down…

O'REILLY: Right.

ROVE: …but she's also, tomorrow night, what's happened is people got a good look at her on Friday and felt good about it.

O'REILLY: Right.

ROVE: More people are going to see her tomorrow night, and all this buzz is going to cause people to watch her even more closely.

O'REILLY: Well, I'm not…

ROVE: They're looking very closely to say, you know, how good is she?


ROVE: And what is her message? And so both in how they present her and what other people say about her tomorrow night. And most important of all, her own personal presentation.

O'REILLY: So this becomes far more important than most vice presidential speeches.

ROVE: Correct. Absolutely.

O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Rove, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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