This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 30, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: A FOX News poll released today shows that Senator Clinton is leading Senator Obama by three points nationally, and when it comes to favorability, Obama's 54 percent rating from February is long gone and unfavorable has gone up by nine points. Now Clinton seems to be faring better with her favorable rating rising two percentage points.
And joining us now former senior advisor to President Bush, FOX News contributor, Karl Rove.
I got to tell you, I think — I know you didn't see the interview with Hillary, but you did read the transcript. You look at these unfavorable ratings. It's probably only the beginning, I think, in light of what happened yesterday.
What are your overall thoughts of it?
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH ADVISOR: Yes, look, he's suffered badly since February. But let's keep in mind that that's, you know, essentially three months that this change has taken place, probably more of it in the last month or six weeks. But it's been a long time since we last polled these numbers. It's not the right trend line that you like.
HANNITY: All right. But — it goes down to, and we've discussed this Reverend Wright issue, but for him to say this is the outrage, this is — the threshold has been crossed when really Reverend Wright didn't say anything other than what we had been informing the American people about.
HANNITY: Do you think that comes off as insincere and very political?
ROVE: Well, it comes off as political. He still — this problem is going to remain. He probably did some good in diminishing it but it still remains. Remember Reverend Wright made the comment about chickens coming home to roost and that we were guilty of terrorism on September 16th, 2001.
ROVE: He went to Libya in 1984. He gave an award over a year ago to Farrakhan.
ROVE: .whom he traveled with to Libya. He made the comment about AIDS at least as late as 2005, perhaps even earlier.
ROVE: .he'd started to make the comment, so it was very strange by — Senator Obama reacted to Reverend Wright repeating on Monday what he had already previously.
HANNITY: Well, let me ask you this.
ROVE: .said in which he'd already dismissed as inconsequential.
HANNITY: Do you think that Hillary can now come back?
ROVE: You know, look, this will change the dynamic, I think, more in the general election than it will in the primary she said in the earlier segment. I — you know, in order for her to win from here on out, she has to take 58 percent of the delegates and all the contests and the superdelegates who have yet to decide.
She's only been able to do that four out of 46 contests, and as a result, she's got a steep hill to climb. I do think this probably means that she goes from running the risk to losing Indiana narrowly to winning Indiana, and it probably improves her somewhat in North Carolina.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey Karl, can't she claim she's won every big state, every major state that is important to Democrats? He's won some states Democrats aren't going to win anyway. She resonates with voters, she's got momentum, makes a case with the superdelegates if she does well in the eight states to come. Is that a compelling reason to get her the nomination?
ROVE: Well, we don't know because we're still — we're here on the 30th of April, and this process is going to take until the 3rd or 4th of June, and we've learned in this race that lots of things happen to all kinds of different candidates in weird places, and there's plenty of time between now and the time it ends, but it would have to be pretty extraordinary because again she's only gotten 58 percent in four of 46 contests.
She got in Arkansas, New York, Connecticut and — excuse me, Rhode Island, and I'm leaving out one more.
ROVE: And so it's really tough.
COLMES: The Obama issue that is coming out now, was that to his advantage? It's not coming out in October, it's not coming out in September, it could blow over.
ROVE: Well, that's a good point. I'm not certain that it's better for it to come out now than it is September or October, it might be better that it come out, you know, June or July so that the nomination is behind him, and he can wash it out more quickly in the general election format, but — because he's constrained right now on what he can say.
Remember, we've gone through at least five or six different iterations on his answer on the Reverend Wright question, the latest one being, our relationship has changed forever because he repeated yesterday what he'd said before. But remember, the start of this, at the very beginning was, that he didn't think that he'd said anything really that controversial.
COLMES: Well, he said he hadn't heard the particular controversial comments so in fact — we take a quick break.
ROVE: No, no. It was — before that, he said he didn't think they were particularly controversial. Then he said that he hadn't heard him while he was sitting on his pews.
COLMES: We'll pick it up right there. More with Karl Rove after the break.
And still to come, we'll talk to a prominent African-American pastor who thinks Wright is wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What he said over the last few days, you know, in some of these sermons were unacceptable, and weren't things that we believed in or cared about. Or cared to believe in. And so I've made a statement yesterday that was hard to make, but it was what I believed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: That was Barack Obama continuing to distance himself from his former preacher, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. We now continue with Karl Rove,
Karl, I was talking to Newt Gingrich on my radio show last night, and we had a very interesting talk about Barack Obama's speech, and he talked about it almost as if it's a Shakespearean drama and what a tragedy it was that these two men who had been so close and that Obama was really struggling with this and anguished by it. And it wasn't just political expediency but somebody who was truly mourning the loss of a close friend and a good relationship.
ROVE: Yes. I think the Speaker is right. I think there's also some sort of utilitarian aspect to this, too, though, as taken by that part in Senator Obama's speech on Tuesday in which he said that, you know — that their relationship would never be the same, and then immediately followed her by saying he didn't show concern about me and he didn't show concern about what we're trying to do in this campaign. And so part of this was, you know, he's not been helpful to me.
But you bet, I mean, these men were close. He took his book title from a sermon. Reverend Wright married him, baptized his children. Senator Obama referred to him as an uncle. And for having a 20-year friendship and particularly a spiritual friendship in which Reverend Wright helped bring him into the faith community there at Trinity Church, it's got to be painful.
COLMES: Also, Obama, I think, showed a level of emotional depth that we had not seen publicly from him, in that he truly seemed like he was struggling with this. Does he need to do more? I mean, is this — was it the, quote, unquote, Sister Souljah moment everybody's been talking about?
ROVE: No, it's not, because look, here's the problem that remains. And this is why these different iterations that we've had right from the beginning, these different explanations, have been unsatisfying.
The best and strongest one, frankly, was for him to have said early on, "Look, he said these things over the course of years. I should have recognized the impact that this would have. The benefits of the spiritual fellowship that I felt at Trinity to my mind outweighed the association with these reprehensible opinions. But I recognize now that it was wrong, I should have spoken out earlier. It's an important lesson to me, and it's one I will never forget." And we'd all be applauding.
But now it's sort of like you know what? He repeated on Monday what he had said over the course of a long time and what had been shown, you know, ad nauseum on television. And it's only when he repeated them in a speech at the National Press Club that Senator Obama finally summoned up the courage to say...
COLMES: The preacher had gone public and heard him in a public way that had not happened before, which probably changed the dynamic for Obama.
ROVE: Well, that's right, but again, that gets to my point about utilitarianism. It suggests that Senator Obama only acted when the benefits of associating with Wright were outweighed by the public disadvantage of being identified with him.
And that's not what the American people want. They want to know that you got a lesson out of this, a moral lesson. And the moral lesson is you shouldn't hang around people who intensely, you know, attack the United States of America, who believe that AIDS was created by the government as an act of genocide against black people and so forth.
COLMES: Obama never believed any of this stuff. What should he do now?
ROVE: Well, I think he's sort of stuck. I wish on Tuesday he had stood up and said — I think it would have been healthy for the country and would have ended it had he said, "You know what? I recognize now he said these things, and I should have spoken out earlier, and I didn't."
HANNITY: Karl, look, I think the question he's having the hardest time answering here, and tell me if I'm wrong — I think anybody in the course of their lives, they can meet somebody. They think they're one way, and then all of a sudden, you know, they find out they're not the person that they once thought they were. I don't think — if he would have left this church ten years ago, five years ago, if he would have said...
ROVE: Dead issue.
HANNITY: Dead issue. I think the fact what he can't explain is that he never left, and then he defended it, you know, defended even after hearing these things.
HANNITY: That seems to be the problem. If he would have left him two years ago, it probably wouldn't be an issue.
ROVE: Yes. Look, if my pastor went to Libya in 1984 with Louis Farrakhan and Moammar — to visit Moammar Gadhafi, I wouldn't have ever joined the church in the first place, and yet he did. And then he said these kind of things over the course of the years.
And look, I can't understand, after September 16 of 2001, why he would remain in the church.
HANNITY: Yes. And he also heard everything that we heard.
HANNITY: And then accused — and then joined in the chorus of accusing those of us in the media of, quote, looping it and taking it out of context. "This isn't the man I knew."
Let me throw one other thing out. We just came in with a slot with Michelle Obama and Barack Obama, and I can't help but link the issues together. Tell me if you think I'm being unfair.
Michelle Obama, "America in 2000 is a downright mean country"; "I've never been proud of my country in my adult lifetime." And then his comments from — from San Francisco, "bitter people in Pennsylvania are clinging to their guns and religion with antipathy towards those who are not like them."
ROVE: Well, and then true patriotism consists not in wearing a flag lapel pin but in speaking out on the issues.
ROVE: Impugning the integrity of anybody who wears a flag lapel pin. I'm sort of wearing mine out of solidarity with the people who did so deliberately and as a — as a statement of their personal patriotism.
But, look, this is part and parcel of a bigger problem, which is that you see it increasingly as an elitist whose views and values are those of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Hyde Park, Chicago and San Francisco, California. And not middle America.
It's why he lost so badly in places like Scranton and Erie, Pennsylvania. That's why in the 50 smallest counties in Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton beat him 65-35 and carried him by 278,000-vote margin in a state that she carried overall by 208,000 votes.
HANNITY: Yes. Well, you know, what's interesting is that I think Hillary Clinton is going to make a case that you've been making, and that is that we have 50 states in this country, not 48, and that somehow if we add Michigan and Florida popular votes — and remember, it was — it was Obama who took himself off the ballot in Michigan. He was on the ballot in Florida.
HANNITY: If we add those numbers, popular vote totals, she's up by about what, 130, 40,000 votes or so.
ROVE: A little bit less if you take into account the caucus states for which no numbers have been — have been released, but which people have reconstructed what the numbers are likely to have looked at.
But yes, look, I accept your point. You know, the Democrats are really going to create a problem for themselves if they don't resolve Michigan and Florida to the satisfaction of those states.
COLMES: You're not putting down the fine people in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and San Francisco, Karl? Parts of America, this great country?
ROVE: No, I just said that they have values different than middle America.
HANNITY: All right. We — Karl, the architect, Rove. Thanks for being with us. He's going to be — by the way, you'll be on a special edition of "Hannity's America" to give us a preview of Indiana and North Carolina on Sunday night. I'll see you then, Karl. Thank you.
ROVE: Fantastic. Thank you.
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