This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 23, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Two years into the era of hope and change the Democrats' dirty tricks, well, they are on full display. Even Republicans who aren't running for president like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are now coming under attack.

According to the New York Post, quote, "Despite the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's repeated pronouncements that he will not seek the GOP presidential nomination, Obama operatives are compiling a dossier on him of what they call opposition research material that could be used to damage Christie if he changes his mind."

Well, Christie is not alone. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty just announced his candidacy just hours ago. But the Democratic National Committee is already circulating this attack.


GRAPHICS: Why is Tim Pawlenty running for president? Is it his track record as governor?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Pawlenty eliminated the program that provides health care to 33,000 low income residents. The governor has systematically been cutting programs from the core since he took office.

GRAPHIC: Is he representing the Tea Party?

TIM PAWLENTY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think President Bush was a leader with strong convictions.

PAWLENTY: In the intermediate and long term we have to move to cleaner and alternative energy sources.

GRAPHIC: Hmm. You tell us, Tim... Why are you running?

GRAPHIC: "I don't know."

GRAPHIC: "I wish I had a better answer for you."


HANNITY: Now this comes on the heels of last week's smear against GOP Congressman Paul Ryan, which depicts him pushing granny right off a cliff. Kid you not.

Joining me with reaction is the author of The New York Times bestseller, "Courage and Consequence," former adviser to President George W. Bush, Fox News contributor, they call him "The Architect," Karl Rove. How are you, sir?


HANNITY: Good to see you. Well, granny being thrown over a cliff. You know, Tim Pawlenty said I made a mistake on cap-and-trade.

ROVE: Yes, well, let's take a look that one though. Let's start with that one because it happened today. They closed by having a quote up there saying, "I don't know. I don't have a good answer for you on that."

That comes from a Time magazine article written by a guy named Crowley. The question he asked was not why are you running? Which is what they put in that spot, he said when did you start to see yourself as president? And Pawlenty said, "I don't know. I don't have a good answer for you for that." I mean, he doesn't remember --

HANNITY: It's very deceptive.

ROVE: Even the writer of the story from which the quote was taken said, you distorted -- I didn't ask the question you claim I asked. His answer was he didn't know when he started to think about running for president, which let me tell you. It is hard to pinpoint that date for virtually anybody.

HANNITY: Can we infer here that they are afraid of Pawlenty? Can we infer that they're afraid Christie might jump in at one point?

ROVE: I think that -- let's see even broader than that. Yes, they are, but they're also let's put in the broader context. This president has presided over a dismal failure when it comes to economic policy. Two and a half years, he has tried to spend our way into prosperity. All the things the magic things that were going to happen when he passed the stimulus bill have failed. We've doubled -- nearly doubled the size of the national debt. The country has an anemic recovery. We're 13 million jobs below where we ought to be if we had the kind of recovery we've had since World War II. So what are they doing? They can't go out there and say reelect this guy because he's got a terrific record and a compelling vision for the future. Instead this is a sign of what they are going to do, which is trash every single Republican who runs and whoever gets the nomination, they are going at him with the most vicious, negative presidential reelection campaign we've ever seen.

HANNITY: All right, I agree with you. I think your assessment's dead on -- to just break that down to the bottom line, he can't run on his record.

ROVE: And he can't win on his own vision. Last time around he had an inspiring vision. "I don't want to be president of red states and blue states, but the United States." Enough people bought it.

And yet, what we've seen is the last two and a half years is that what he claimed to be a centrist who would bring us together, he has turned out to be an old-style Chicago politician, a far left liberal on the fringes of that party whose answer is not sit down and work it out, but I won.

HANNITY: Are you surprised as I am that he didn't even really make an attempt to triangulate, like Clinton or move to the center like Clinton? The recent example is obviously Israel.

ROVE: Yes, he's not that deft. Clinton is deft. Clinton is a, you know, politician par excellence (ph) who can pull that off. Obama doesn't have those kinds of skills. He's not that hard a worker and he doesn't have that kind of understanding how politics works.

HANNITY: Let's analyze what he did here. On the eve of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, remember, we rolled out the red carpet for China when the president came from China and state dinner. Is Bibi getting a state dinner?


HANNITY: All right, so --

ROVE: I'm not even certain he's getting a steak dinner let alone a state dinner.

HANNITY: If he is, he's going to buy it himself apparently because the White House is not helping. But on the eve of him arriving he drops this bombshell, which they denied they were going to do.

ROVE: Yes, that's to me a critical element. Jay Carney on Wednesday says "not going to do it" and then on Thursday he does. Was Carney telling the truth on Wednesday? Of course, nobody in the White House press corps --

HANNITY: They didn't ask about Bill Ayers, why would they ask about that? All right, so they do this. Bibi comes to town. He's in the White House. If you know anything about Bibi, his brother was in the raid on Entebbe, et cetera, support for the military, you know -- you know that Bibi is not gone that take this. So why would they do that? Then he gets embarrassed. I thought it was like a professor talking to a student, let me tell you about the ways of the world.

ROVE: Look, I've got to tell you. First of all, I thought Netanyahu hit the right tone. One of respect, I don't think he lectured him. He wasn't -- but he's making clear the viewpoint of the state of Israel.

But you are right. It was remarkable. You say something you know is going to irritate the guy and then you bring the guy in the next day. I also think there's a big tone underneath that they did not do a good job of preparing the Israelis for this.


ROVE: Here's why. They are not as good as we think they are. I look back at the last 2-1/2 years. They could have gotten 25, 35, 45 percent of the Republicans in the House to vote for a stimulus bill if they said we'll take some of your ideas and toss out some of ours. They didn't do it. They went 51 weeks without talking to the Republicans about health care.

HANNITY: Did they think the prime minister of Israel was just going to just take --

ROVE: I think they did. I think they thought -- arrogance. The other thing is, they're tone-deaf. They're misplaying this thing. I mean, I thought it was very interesting. I think I'm going to write about this in the Wall Street Journal.

They had an article about David Plouffe who is the power in the West Wing. I think unfortunately, Bill Daley is window dressing. But Plouffe was paying attention to the Twitter traffic about President Obama's phony speech about immigration reform in El Paso. What he really liked was when he went off on the rift and said, all the Republicans just want a moat and alligators in it. He thought that was fantastic. That's their mindset. We are in this to belittle our political opponents and that's tone deaf.

HANNITY: I would be embarrassed if I was the president to have gotten that lecture --

ROVE: I would be embarrassed if I were the president and tried to pull that whole thing off the way that they did.

HANNITY: All right, Karl Rove, always fun. We'll be talking a lot between now and Election Day.

Content and Programming Copyright 2011 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2011 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.