Karl Rove on Report of Far-Left Conspiracy

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 13, 2009. 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, reaction to the Politico [left-wing conspiracy] story. Joining us from Washington, FOX News analyst Karl Rove.

All right, right off the top, what say you?

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KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, first of all, I love your youthful idealism by suggesting that the Obama White House might not be connected with this. I love your idealism. Of course they are connected to this.

O'REILLY: Do you think they're on the call? Do you think they're on the morning call?

ROVE: No, no, no. In fact, I thought it was interesting in Ben Smith's reporting in Politico.com, he went out of his way to say twice, quoting in one instance Jennifer Palmieri, that the White House does not participate in the phone calls. But that begs the question of do the officials at CAP, John Podesta's operation, have conversations about these calls in advance of them or after them with members of the White House staff?

And think about the juxtaposition of the timing. It's at 8:45 in the morning is when these intimidation calls take place. That's after they've had the morning staff meeting at 7:30 at the White House and time to digest. And then the question is, is there contact between somebody at the White House and somebody in John Podesta's operation or one of the other sponsors of this to help sort of coordinate the messaging for the day? And I would bet you a dime to a dollar that there is that kind of contact.


ROVE: In fact, Palmieri in the article goes out of her way to say, look, we are working closely with the White House. We're closely associated with the White House, and one of our entities, Americans United for Change, exists for the purpose of running television ads in support of the administration's policy. And she pointed to Podesta's role as head of the Obama transition.

O'REILLY: OK. I'm not going to argue with that, but I think that there's a big risk for President Obama…

ROVE: Sure.

O'REILLY: ...if he is found to be in coordination, as Richard Nixon was, with dirty tricks people. And these people are — they will do anything. They will smear.

ROVE: Yeah.

O'REILLY: They will defame. They'll do anything at all. They'll hack.

ROVE: I thought it was…

O'REILLY: They'll do anything.

ROVE: I thought it was very interesting the tone of the article. It was not we exist for the purpose of advocating our ideas…

O'REILLY: No, no. It's destroying.

ROVE: ...engaging in debate.

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

ROVE: It's we're going after the people who disagree with us. And she went out of her way to then give two examples of where they went after people who had the temerity to have an opinion different than theirs. And that is, you know, that is, you know, that's sort of vaguely fascist in its attitude.

O'REILLY: Well, this is what happened in Watergate. This was the whole Watergate thing. The Nixon White House used its power to go after the Nixon's enemies list and all of this.

Now, I think it's too early to tie Barack Obama in with this, to be fair. His people may be involved. I mean, and we'll continue…

ROVE: But…

O'REILLY: Now, is there any corresponding — go ahead, go ahead.

ROVE: There's one interesting question though, which is if he's not involved, but his people are, are they not listening to Barack Obama's calls to change the old style of politics.

O'REILLY: I guess they're not.

ROVE: "pretty recriminations and personal politics?"

O'REILLY: Did anybody ever believe that? I never believed that for a second. Look, Barack Obama…

ROVE: I did.

O'REILLY: ...may want to be friends with everybody, but certainly his people are ruthless. And they're ruthless in every party. But is there any corresponding right-wing phone call, conservative phone call made in the morning as far as you know?

ROVE: No, there — no, not that I'm aware of. There were — there are two groups, two venues if you will. One hosted by the now-deceased Paul Weirich (ph) on Capitol Hill and the other hosted by Grover Norquist, of which conservative organizations and think tanks and institutes and individuals can attend and talk about mutual issues. But they're held on a weekly or biweekly basis. And this is a new level of organization, which shows a toughness and a discipline and a focus. And frankly, given the nature of how they explain their job, a nastiness that it's very effective in certain quarters.

O'REILLY: Well, it's disturbing. This is not the way democracy is supposed to run.

Now Scott McClellan, your pal, accused me, you remember last year, of getting White House talking points. And was there anything like this while you were in the White House, Mr. Rove? Was Scott McClellan coordinating talking points? And of course, I never received anything from you guys.

ROVE: Yeah.

O'REILLY: And I couldn't even get a call back most of the time from you guys.

ROVE: Well, every White House for decades has put out talking points to, you know, to advocates and surrogates about their policies. That's to be expected. In fact, you know, the press wants to know what your arguments are.

O'REILLY: Why didn't you send me? I never got anything from you. You guys…

ROVE: Well…

O'REILLY: You didn't.

ROVE: You know, you're an independent-minded guy, and they probably knew that they couldn't affect you…

O'REILLY: That I would mock them.

ROVE: Might have just been incompetence on the part of Scott McClellan.

O'REILLY: No, I think he's afraid that I would mock him.

All right, so every White House does send out talking points and things — the people they deem to be on their side. That's not unusual. That's always happened, correct?

ROVE: Sure. And on the issues, you bet, in fact, and with the Internet has made it easy to put those things up on the Web site so that people can download them themselves. You don't just need to push them out of…

O'REILLY: Now in the Bush White House, did you guys ever threaten anybody that disagreed with you? Because they were legion. Did you ever threaten anybody?

ROVE: Not that, you know, not that I recall. But I mean, I can tell you for darn certain we didn't go after him as this woman boasted in the Politico piece. She boasted about how they went out and slimed a couple of people.

O'REILLY: So you can't remember you never threatened or you guys out of the White House or your acolytes?

ROVE: Yeah, but…

O'REILLY: Surrogates never threatened anybody?

ROVE: Look, you — no, look. Did we say to people we hope that you would be standing with us on this.

O'REILLY: That's different.

ROVE: Or you know…

O'REILLY: That's encouraging positive behavior, not threatening.

ROVE: That's right. Exactly. Right.

O'REILLY: So you never threatened?


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

ROVE: You bet.

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