Republican Special Election Wins an Early Referendum on Obama?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 14, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: It was a big night for the Republican Party last night as the GOP scored two huge wins in special elections in New York and Nevada. Now, the results have sent shockwaves through President Obama's re-election campaign.

We begin with the historic upset here in New York City where Republican businessman Bob Turner defeated Democrat David Weprin. Now, this was the race to fill the House seat vacated by former Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Now, to put this into perspective, just how big a victory this was for the GOP -- now this district has been in Democratic hands for nearly 90 years.

But the last beat in there in Nevada's 2nd Congressional District, Republican Mark Amodei cruised to a victory over Kate Marshall by a margin of well, over 20 points.

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    But of course, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman- Schultz, she claims the defeats have nothing do with President Obama or 2012. Now, what's even more laughable, Senator Chuck Schumer, who's one of the Democrats who held the New York nine seat during that 90-year time frame, he actually told reporters that the district is among the most conservative in all of New York City.

    You keep telling yourself that, Chuck.

    And joining me now for us, some intelligent analysis of yesterday's special elections, the author of The New York Times, bestseller, "Courage and Consequence," Fox News contributor, the one and only, the architect, Karl Rove.

    Sir, big night last night.


    HANNITY: Huge, but it is a conservative district.

    ROVE: Yes. Well, look, this is a district that Barack Obama carried by 11 points and Bob Turner won it last night by eight. And he was propelled by working-class ethnics who said, we are concerned about our government spending money we don't have. And by Orthodox Jews who are concerned about the president's policies on Israel. Which lead as you know, former mayor, New York Mayor Ed Koch, a lifelong Democrat to support Bob Turner's election of Congress.

    Today, there was a brilliant piece in The Wall Street Journal by Dan Senor intitled why Obama's losing the Jewish vote. And if anybody wants to understand why, this is a quick read and I guess a strong argument, a strong case as to why the policies of the Obama administration have resonated so badly inside the Jewish community that we saw what we saw last night. The end of a Democrat dominance of a seat they held since 1923.

    HANNITY: I mean, that's the amazing thing about this. There were two very key endorsements here. One you just mentioned, that was former Mayor Ed Koch. The second was assemblyman Democrat Dov Hikind.

    ROVE: Right. Dov Hikind. Yes.

    HANNITY: Very influential assembly man in New York. You know, it is amazing thing. How do you actually, with a straight face say, this is a very difficult district for Democrats. As you pointed out, you know, literally, the first Republican since Warren Harding in the 1920s. You know, three to one Democrat to Republican registration. He's a 70-year-old businessman and never been elected. They threw everything in the kitchen sink at him, you know, Social Security, medi-scare, $500,000 in last minute ads. None of it help, that hurt.

    ROVE: Yes. Absolutely right. Now, look, as important as New York's victory is, the Nevada one in some ways is even more disturbing for Democrats. Because look, they are already riding off, they're saying a Democratic Assemblyman Weprin in New York was a lousy candidate and this issue of Israel is not going to be present everywhere in every race. They are already starting to discount this happening. You can't get Ed Koch in every district to campaign for a Republican.

    But in Nevada, think about this, Sean, Nevada too was carried by John McCain in the 2008 election by 88 votes, 88. That was his margin. And in this election, the Democrats had a candidate they thought was picture perfect, fantastic secretary of state, had run and won statewide. Had gobs and money, she was great at executing the playbook, ran an ad saying that her Republican opponent Mark Amodei wanted to quote, "End Medicare to pay for tax breaks for millionaires," end quote.

    And they ran that hard and heavy. And he won by 28,000 votes. I mean, think about that swing. He had a 20 point, 22 point victory in a district that was essentially 49-49 in 2008 in the presidential race.

    So, if the Democrat playbook, you know, they got the best candidate. They don't have issues like the president's policy on Israel dominating in a district with a lot of Orthodox Jews, all the excuses they gave for New York are not present in Nevada, and yet they got creamed.

    Now, I have to say in full disclosure, I'm affiliated with a group called American Crossroads that spent $265,000 to help bury Kate Marshall under a barrage of early ballots by Republicans.

    HANNITY: All right. Fair enough. Full disclosure.

    Here's -- the field poll comes out in California. I don't know how Obama's team -- if I'm David Plouffe today, if I'm David Axelrod today, I'm saying, I want out of this job as soon as I can get out. Because now, Californians have now soured on Obama. So, if they find themselves in a situation where they have to defend California and they have to defend New York, it is over. I mean, there's no way, how are they going to compete in Michigan, Wisconsin? How are they going to compete in North Carolina, Indiana, and Florida, Ohio? They are not going to be able to do it.

    ROVE: Yes. And remember, the road to victory for the Republicans is win the states that McCain won, pick up Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, traditionally Republican states that Obama snuck away last time. Win Ohio and Florida and then win any other state in the union, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, or Nevada, any one of those ones puts the Republican in the White House.

    HANNITY: All right. So, what can we expect? Peter DeFazio, Oregon Democrat actually said in my district the enthusiasm for Obama has mostly evaporated. Tremendous discontent with his direction. I have one heck of a lot of Democrats saying, I voted for him before, but I don't know if I can do it again.

    Here's the question. Will he be able in 14 months to get back those people that have been turning on him in poll after poll after poll?

    ROVE: Well, look, he will get back the Democrats. But he's not going to get the independents. I wrote my column for tomorrow's morning Wall Street Journal on exactly this topic. I think the problem for the president is, he is going to think his problem is with the Peter DeFazios of the world and the Maxine Waters of the world. She remembered, she said at the Wayne Community College recently in Detroit, that the African-American community, we are getting tired, we don't know what the strategy is. And what he's going to do is he's going to feel like he's got to go left and become even more liberal and say even more aggressive things like he said in the speech last week when he literally called the Republican opposition un-American and grossly distorted what they were advocating. It is not going to work.

    HANNITY: All right.

    Let's look at the Republican field. And more specifically, you were critical of the Ponzi scheme comment by Rick Perry.

    ROVE: No, I'm not critical of the Ponzi scheme. In fact, John Harris misinterpreted. Look, I wouldn't use those words. But I understand where he's coming from which is to say, it is a pay as you go plan, so that today's generations are supporting today's retirees. They aren't really saving for their own retirement, they're paying for the bills for the people who are retired today.

    But my concern is more with what he wrote in his book about it being potentially unconstitutional quote, by all measures of failure, and suggesting that what we ought to do is turn it over to the states and let them decide whether we're going to have Social Security or not. He's got to have a plan. You just can't just toss things out there like that and not unsettle a lot of people. Sixty million people get a Social Security check at some form.

    And I want our nominee, whether it's Governor Perry, Governor Romney or whomever, Congresswoman Bachmann, you name it. I want them to be strong and I think Governor Perry needs to lay out a plan sooner rather than later.

    HANNITY: Did he meet you halfway during this most recent debate?

    ROVE: I thought it was very smart. He went out, first of all, he responded to the USA Today editorial. They called him on short notice and said give us 300 words if you want to disagree with us. And in there, he said, my goal is to save and strengthen Social Security. And again, he said that during the debate.

    I think he's got to take a step further. Because if you say, I want to turn it over to the states, you got to describe what that means. I mean, does that mean, what happens to, you know, people on Social Security? What if you are getting ready to retire? What happens to the money if you're a middle age worker? What happens to the money you put in Social Security payroll tax? What happens then? What if you live in a state that elects not to replace Social Security and you move to a state that does decide to replace Social Security? How does that all work? You got to have a plan in order to reassure the American people.

    HANNITY: What did you think of Romney's response to him? Is Romney right to go after him on it?

    ROVE: Oh, sure. I mean, look, I thought it was a very constructive debate, because look, this is about making our candidates better. At the end of this process no matter who comes out of it, they're going to have become a better candidate. And I thought it was a rather robust conversation. Just as it was fair for Governor Perry to go after Governor Romney on his record of job creation in Massachusetts, it is fair for Governor Romney to raise questions about what are you really proposing on Social Security?

    HANNITY: I thought it was a good debate too. And I agree with you. It is like "American Idol."

    ROVE: Yes.

    HANNITY: Somebody is going to rise to the occasion and it is going to be fascinating to watch who it is.

    Karl Rove, thanks for being with us.

    ROVE: Thanks, Sean. Thanks for having me.

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