This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 24, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR (voice-over): So do teleprompter issues now run in the family?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: And I'd really be happy to use these teleprompters if they were higher.

HANNITY: All of that plus Karl Rove, Ann Coulter and much, much more. HANNITY starts right now.


HANNITY: All right. So where in the world was Governor Mark Sanford? Now that is the question that news organizations across the country were asking this weekend after the governor mysteriously disappeared in a dark SUV. Now he made a dramatic reemergence today when a reporter found him disembarking a plane from Argentina.

And that is our headline this Wednesday night, "Lost and Found." Now the governor's staff initially told reporters that he was hiking in the Appalachian Mountains to clear his head.

Now in the governor's tell-all press conference today he rambled on and on about his great love for the outdoors.


GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I used to organize hiking trips. Actually when I was in high school I would get a soccer coach or a football coach to act as chaperon and then I get folks to pay me 60 bucks each or whatever it was to take the trip and then off we'd go and have these great adventures on the Appalachian Trail.


HANNITY: But that was just a detour along the way to this very stunning admission.


SANFORD: The bottom line is this. I — I've been unfaithful to my life and as a consequence I hurt her. I hurt you all. I hurt my wife. I hurt my boys. I hurt friends like Tom Davis. I hurt a lot of different folks.


HANNITY: Now Governor Sanford even admitted to misleading his staff regarding his whereabouts before he jetted of to spend Father's Day weekend with his mistress. Add him to the growing ranks of our elected leaders, Republicans and Democrats, who transgressed the bonds of marriage.

Now Governor Sanford apologized to South Carolina. But his personal situation extends beyond that state into the GOP as a whole. Now it's no secret that the governor was a leading candidate for the party's nomination in 2012, and his resignation as head of the Republican Governors Association suggests that he is now out of the running.

And joining me now with reaction is somebody — well, he knows a thing or two about bringing success to the GOP. The architect Karl Rove is here.

Karl, we just had him on before this disappearance. Were you as surprised as I am?

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH ADVISOR: Well, it's a sad, sad situation and obviously convoluted and deeply personal. I do think one of the interesting things is how quickly a lot of commentators, particularly on the left, have come to say well, this is something — a deadly blow to the Republican Party because he was such a strong candidate in 2012.

With all due respect to Governor Sanford, I've never thought he was a particularly strong candidate. If you looked just beneath the surface in South Carolina, for example, there were a lot of strong conservatives who were very upset with his performance in office and I suspect if he had run we would have seen a lot of South Carolinians popping up in the camps of other candidates, and that would have been very damaging to his candidacy.

He would not have been able to say I'm a candidate from South Carolina who has unified support among party members in my home state.

HANNITY: A lot of people think his days are numbered in South Carolina. Your thoughts.

ROVE: Might be. Might be. I mean he didn't beat around the bush. He didn't mislead people in today's news conference. It was sort of a quirky and odd news conference but he's pretty straightforward in saying I made a mistake and I take responsibility for it.

And — you know, again, it's a sign of the lack of popularity that he's got in the state that the immediate response of a lot of political leaders in the state was he's got to go, and he's got to go right now.

HANNITY: Karl, this is a tough question. And — should it matter what people do in their private life? Should the public care? Does it reflect on their character, in your mind?

ROVE: Well, look, people in public life are human beings, and human beings make mistakes. And so I hate to have a sort of blank rule that needs to be applied each and every time. I think this needs to be looked upon and judged as they are.

This is certainly a lot different than, say, for example, Governor Spitzer, who was using a prostitute, you know? Nobody went out and made big comments about, you know, the Democratic Party or liberals when he did that.

Obviously Barney Frank had his own issues with a prostitution ring being run out of his basement apartment and now he's the chairman of the all-powerful committee in the House of Representatives that oversees our financial institutions.

So I mean there are different ways that these get handled. I think Governor Sanford, to his credit, owned up to it quickly. It explains, you know, the pressure that he's been under, explains a little bit why he was probably as eccentric in his handling of this as he was today.

But I have to say I suspected people in South Carolina appreciated him being straightforward and fessing (ph) up.

HANNITY: All right. Let me move on to the issue of Iran. We're getting reports and we even have on FOXNews.com that literally today a massacre has taken place inside of Iran. A massacre.

Now early on the president said we ought not be meddling, it doesn't matter what the outcome is, it has nothing to do with us. And of course he changed gears yesterday.

I don't think he showed real leadership here. I think it matters. I don't think it's meddling.

What should America's response be? And what do you think about the way the president's handled this so far?

ROVE: I think his handling has been very poor. Look, early on he was saying things like we don't want to meddle, it's their business. He sent out his press spokesman to basically poo-poo any response by America.

It's not up to us. It's up to them. It's their business. We can deal with whoever wins whether it's Ahmadinejad or the opposition, it doesn't matter to us.

This was all taken by the rulers in Iran for what it was, which was a statement by the president of the United States that it didn't matter what they did, didn't matter how they conducted their election, that the president of the United States was foregoing the moral authority of the United States and simply saying it's up to you to do whatever you want.

And I — I'm not going to suggest — I'm not going to claim that the actions of killing the young woman that we saw so horrifically displayed on television, or that if these reports are true that it's the Obama administration's fault, but he did give the Iranian regime a sense that the United States didn't care.

I mean, look, when France, when the leader of France steps up very early on, and sets a moral tone saying that democracy depends upon the right of the voters to be respected and that this election was a sham — when the language of the leader of France is stronger than the language of the leader of the United States of America, the leading democracy in the world, that something is fundamentally wrong.

HANNITY: All right. We.

ROVE: And the president was right yesterday. He was right yesterday to say he was appalled, he condemned it. I wish that had been his attitude a heck of a lot earlier.

HANNITY: Yes, I think — I think it was personally was a day late and a dollar short in my mind. And they're finally saying that they might disinvite the diplomats to the Fourth of July party, which — all right, that's great but a little late.

When we look at the situation, though, in Iran and we look at North Korea today threatening to wipe the United States off the map. There's reports that they're going to fire a missile in the direction of Hawaii and that they have a ship in international waters carrying nuclear material that they're bringing to another country.

Are these the tests that Joe Biden was talking about as it relates to foreign affairs that Barack Obama would have to face?

ROVE: Oh, I think they are and look, I think Joe Biden was absolutely prescient in his suggestion that a new president would be tested. And he is being tested. And in part he's being tested on so many fronts, because again the impression is, abroad, that he can be had.

I mean they saw how weak he was when he went to the G20 and said, you know, everybody follow what we're doing and stimulate your economies by deficit spending, and nobody followed it. They saw what happened when he went to the NATO meetings without preparation and said we want you to plus up your military capacity in Afghanistan and nothing happened.

They saw how he went to the Summit of the Americas and let himself be embarrassed publicly by — and humiliated by Chavez. And so they're looking at him, this tenured (ph) dictators in Iran and in North Korea, and saying we can have this guy. All we've got to do is just push him and he'll fold.


ROVE: You know, I rarely disagree with you but you know what? He wasn't a day late and a dollar short. He was like seven or eight days and a couple of thousand dollars short in his comments.

HANNITY: Yes, that's true.

ROVE: I'm sure we're in agreement on that. He should have said this and struck that tone right from the start.

HANNITY: I think it was the moral equivalent of his entire career, which is voting "present."

Let me ask you one broad question on the economy before we have to let you go. Because you've been writing extensively in the "Wall Street Journal' about nationalizing health care. He has an infomercial and we'll talk about this in more detail later in the program tonight. But he's got that coming.

A lot of people haven't paid attention to it, and the impact of the CBO numbers and the CBO scoring, nor people paying attention to this cap and tax which could cost us nearly three million jobs and literally tax American families about $2,000 each.

Do you think the American people are aware of the consequences of those two pieces of legislation?

ROVE: Well, I don't think they're fully cognizant yet, but they are paying attention to it and looking at the details. And as a result — I write about this tomorrow morning in my piece in The Wall Street Journal, there's a growing gap between the president's popularity, which is declining, and support for his programs.

The opposition is growing faster to his programs. And he is declining in his popularity but the opposition to his programs is growing even more dramatically. And what that says to me is that he's in deep trouble on things like the cap and tax and like health care. $1.6 trillion price tag when he himself admits we're out of money and we're drowning in a river of red ink, is a real problem for him. And I think we're likely to see his numbers get worse, not better, because of it.

HANNITY: All right, Karl, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

ROVE: You bet, Sean.

Watch "Hannity" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

Content and Programming Copyright 2009 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC, which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and CQ Transcriptions, LLC's copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.