Karl Rove on Potomac Primary Results

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 12, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: We start tonight with our own Fox News Analyst — we call him the architect — Karl Rove is with us. By the way, this TV thing is natural for you. You are doing great.


HANNITY: I hope you're liking it.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: How you doing, Carl?

HANNITY: We start with the Republican side, Karl, because there's interesting differences when you look at the Virginia exit polls and the Maryland exit polls. For example, Huckabee did very well in Virginia among conservatives. But in the Maryland primary, Senator McCain did better among conservatives. What do you think is happening? What's the dynamic here?

ROVE: It's a different kind of conservative. Maryland is more northeast than it is south. You go — southwestern Virginia is halfway to the Mississippi River. I mean, it's a very deep south when you get far south in Virginia. Maryland is a much more northeastern state. So the definition of what constitutes conservative in Maryland and what constitutes it in some parts of Virginia are awfully different.

HANNITY: By the way, I've got to tell you, we are very proud that Karl Rove has brought his blackboard with him tonight and hopefully he will be using that in a little bit.

Let me go to the Democratic side. If we go back to Super Tuesday, where Barack Obama won 13 states to Hillary's eight states. He won the delegate count at the end of the day. He won all of these four primaries over the weekend, three primaries tonight. We have got a 20 to eight margin, financial momentum and we also have an enthusiasm momentum and that is that — look at the crowds and — you know, that he has drawn around the country. What do you make of it?

ROVE: Look, again, because they have rules of proportionality it means all of these big victories — going in tonight, he was 23 delegates down. Coming out of tonight, he may be 27 or 28 or 29 delegates up. Which is not a lot in a contest as big as this one is.

HANNITY: By the way, Karl, let me interrupt you one second. That is Hillary. She is right now in El Paso, Texas and when her remarks begin we will bring them to you right here on the FOX News Channel. Do you think the momentum shift, as we come out of this now 20 to eight states, they are looking to March 4th when they have Texas and they have Ohio, and obviously Vermont and Rhode Island, if my memory serves me right. I think Barack Obama could win Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island. And that would offset Texas, wouldn't it?

ROVE: Look, there is a lot of momentum going into this March 4th primary behind Obama if tonight plays out like it looks like it's going to play out. And then I don't know what's going to happen on March 4th, whether she is going to be able to keep Texas in her camp. I mean, first of all, momentum matters everywhere. Once you get a head of steam it requires something to change it and I'm not certain what I see necessarily changing it.

In Texas, for example, a very respected political family in San Antonio is the Gonzalez family. It was the first Hispanic Congressman from San Antonio. His son is now in Congress. Charlie Gonzales endorsed Barack Obama. That's big. That is really big.

HANNITY: If we look back now, and I guess everything is 20/20 hindsight, Karl, do you see any fundamental mistakes they have made? I know there's been a lot made of the comments of Bill Clinton, the race issue that has come up. As we look at the exit poll data tonight, once again, both in Maryland and the state of Virginia, we see a huge racial divide. Again, it's nearly 90 to 10 African-Americans going for Barack Obama. Was that caused by the Clintons? Any other mistakes you see?

ROVE: I think it was caused by the affirmative desire of African-Americans to see one of their own nominated for president. He is an historic figure. I think, looking back — and, look, hindsight is incredibly easy to do. But he clearly prepared for the caucus states and she didn't.

Take, for example, New Hampshire. New Hampshire has 22 Democrat delegates; 290,000 people turned out to vote. So, for every delegate, there were 12,000-plus people voting. In Idaho there were 18 delegates and for every delegate there were roughly 1,400 people who participated in the primary. Literally less than 20,000 people participated and got almost as many delegates as a state that had 290,000 people vote in the caucus — or in the primary.

Everywhere they had a caucus like that, he was well-prepared and well organized and took advantage of it.

HANNITY: Let me ask you, you have run campaigns. You've been in the midst of them. And I assume you probably lose some sense of objectivity and discernment here. You have the ability to stand back a bit for both, say, Mike Huckabee, who you used your blackboard on the other night — he needs 85 percent of the delegates.

ROVE: Eighty three.

HANNITY: I've got to be precise. If you were to offer any advice at this point to either Mike Huckabee or to Hillary Clinton, who has clearly fallen behind here, what would you tell them?

ROVE: Well, Huckabee, look, tonight he is not going to have a good night. There is going to be 113 delegates elected. In all likelihood, he is going to get maybe one or two of them, and maybe zero. So he's going — then Wisconsin is not going to be good territory for Mike Huckabee. Texas will be good territory for him and some parts of Ohio will generate some votes for him.

He is entitled to run. Nobody gets to tell him to get out except his wife. But the math is very difficult for him. And the question is going to be at some point, does he say I'm doing myself a disservice by staying in.

HANNITY: Right. There you can see in Virginia, Senator McCain the projected winner, 48 percent to 43 percent at this particular point here. Interesting divide, as I mentioned earlier, in terms of the Maryland exit polls and the Virginia exit polls. One of the issues that came up was talk radio, of which, you know, I play a small little part.

ROVE: I have heard that.

HANNITY: It apparently did have an impact with voters in some way. And that goes to the question of Senator McCain's relationship with conservatives.

ROVE: Right.

HANNITY: I thought Jack Kemp wrote a very compelling piece today appealing to talk radio host to look at the big picture. What do you think about — what could Senator McCain do to reach out to maybe some conservatives who have issues with him?

ROVE: First of all, he has to do this on an on-going basis. He doesn't need — there is no magic formula that is going to get people in his camp overnight. He will simply have to go out there and say what he believes and talk about what he thinks is important in a way that over time people will be reassured. Look, this guy has consolidated most Republicans and most conservatives. In the latest Fox poll, he had 80 percent of Republicans voting for him against Obama, 10 percent of the Republicans were breaking for Obama, but 18 percent of Democrats went for McCain and only 74 percent of Democrats remained with Obama.

So he has consolidated better than Obama or Senator Clinton have. But, it is a reassurance over time. People say, OK, we're going to go for you. You have got character. You are a hero. We understand where you are coming from on Iraq. We have heard a little bit about you on spending. We know about the Straight Talk Express. But what are you going to do over time to make me feel really comfortable with being for you.

COLMES: By the way, you're looking at a picture also of Hillary Clinton about to speak in El Paso, Texas. We will bring it to you as soon as it occurs. Talking about talk radio, it seemed like it played more of a role in Virginia than in Maryland, where apparently a third a the voters in Maryland listen frequently to conservative talk radio. A much larger percentage in Virginia. So that seemed to have much more of an impact in Virginia for some reason. I wonder why that would be?

ROVE: First of all, it's the demographics of the state. Most of Maryland, the Republicans are in a narrow corridor. They're in the eastern shore and western Maryland. Most of them are physically in between a corridor between Baltimore and Washington. It's not like Virginia, where you listen to radio as you drive from Roanoke to your job or driving up and down the —

COLMES: The more time you listen, the more poisonous it is.

ROVE: The more time, the more influenced you are.

COLMES: Depends who you are listening to. Let me ask you about — you said there are two kinds of conservatives and there is the people who voted in Virginia. There's another kind of conservative that vote in a different part of Virginia, another kind of conservative that votes in Maryland. But which is the conservative that most represents those that will vote in the general election in the United States, generally?

ROVE: I'm not certain I understand that question.

COLMES: You are saying there are two kinds of conservatives.

ROVE: No. I'm just saying the Maryland conservatives have a slightly different look on life than do — it's the difference between somebody who is a conservative in Pennsylvania and a conservative who lives in South Carolina. It's the difference between a liberal in Texas and a liberal in New York. They have a different set of agenda and slightly different world view.

COLMES: Liberal in Texas is known as a Republican. But which is more likely to be the Republican who votes in a general election and is the kind of conservative that McCain needs? Which kind is that?

ROVE: Let me come back to that. Tonight, McCain is doing well in Virginia in three places, two that he has done well before. In 2000, he did well in the tide water, where there are a lot of retired military. And he is doing well in northern Virginia, which is where he did well eight years ago.

Tonight, he is doing very well in the Republican suburbs of Richmond, where he did not do well eight years ago, and where — you know, the suburbs and the exurbs, and that's where any Republican needs to do well.

COLMES: Does that mean the — Is that an indication that conservatives are starting to embrace John McCain in a way that they haven't perhaps up until now?

ROVE: Yes, I look at the election returns in the districts where George Bush beat John McCain handily and where tonight John McCain is beating Mike Huckabee handily.


COLMES: We are talking to Karl Rove. We were discussing about the rules in Texas. Are they different than the rules elsewhere and how does that favor each candidate?

ROVE: They are different. First of all, they apportion the delegates by state Senate district. We've got 31 state senators. We've got 33 members of Congress. But the Democrats have a very odd rule that says we are going to take into account — We are not going to apportion an equal number of delegates to each Senate district. We will allocate a number based on how Democratic those districts are. We're not going to just look at the percentage of the votes the Democrats get in the district. We're going to look at the number of votes a Democrat gets in the district.

So you have these Latino state senate districts in South Texas that give an enormous percentage to Democrats but have a low turnout. They have half as many delegates as equally Democrat but larger voting districts, African-American districts in Dallas and Houston. Hillary Clinton could carry the Latino vote, get 60 or 70 percent of the vote, and get half as many delegates as Obama if Obama was carrying those African-American districts by same percentage.

HANNITY: Well, let me then advance this a little bit further here, if we can. We're talking about the Texas firewall, the Ohio firewall that she is setting up for herself, sort of similar to what Rudy Giuliani did in the state of Florida. Let me ask you about the superdelegates and, more importantly, the battle, that this may actually go to the convention, and states like Michigan and Florida, where they are not seating these delegates and — could you see a potential where Hillary sues to get them seated?

ROVE: Well, I think it would be an utter disaster if they had a convention with no representation from two of the largest battleground states in the country, Michigan and Florida. Now, let me say one thing about firewalls. Sometimes firewalls work. So I don't want to count her out. I just want to say that the rules in Texas are going to be complicated and create problems for her, even if the strength there is she has to deliver.

But, no, look, this is going to — in all likelihood, unless one of them gives up, this is going to go all the way to the convention. Again, it goes back to the proportionality of the delegates.

HANNITY: Last question, if you look at the exit polls tonight, there is one thing that was very clear, there is a lot of resentment in these two camps. When they asked the question, if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, will you be satisfied? Barack Obama supporters overwhelmingly, no. If Obama gets it, Clinton supporters overwhelmingly dissatisfied — if Barack Obama gets it. There is a lot of contention here between the two camps.

ROVE: Yes. Well, that's what happens in primaries, no matter what the good intentions of the candidates are. By the end of the primary, you end up not liking the other guy and so do your supporters. They don't like them either.

HANNITY: Do you think ultimately they team up?

ROVE: I doubt it.

HANNITY: Interesting. Karl Rove, the architect, thanks for being with us.

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