Rove: Time for the GOP to Lay It on Strong

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 22, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Our countdown to Election Day is on. And in a minute I will be joined by former senior adviser to George W. Bush, Karl Rove.

But first, just a short time ago, House Republicans released a draft document that many of us have been waiting for. They are calling it a "Pledge to America" and it outlines the values, the policies and the ideals that a Republican-led Congress will pursue in 2011.

Now the official unveiling will take place tomorrow, but tonight we have a sneak peek of some of the key elements of the pledge.

On the economy Republicans are vowing to end all job-killing tax hikes. They want to provide small businesses with tax cuts. They vow to stand in the way of excessive federal regulation. They call it Washington's red tape factory. They will repeal job-killing, small business mandates like the 1099 health care requirement.

On fiscal responsibility and the size of government, the GOP pledges to cut government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels. They'll cut Congress' budget and end TARP forever. They'll take Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of the incapable hands of the government and they'll even hold weekly votes on spending cuts.

And next up, Republicans will repeal and they will replace the government takeover of health care. And this is an action they vow to undertake immediately.

But fear not, Democrats, the GOP, they have a plan of their own. They will allow health care to be purchased across state lines, expand health savings accounts, ensure access for patients with preexisting conditions, and permanently prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion.

And finally on securing America, terrorists will not be imported into the U.S. from Gitmo or anywhere else. Sanctions against rogue regimes like Iran will actually be enforced. And the Obama administration will be held accountable by the Congress.

The government will secure our borders once and for all. And immigration laws will be enforced by state and local officials. And that includes in Arizona.

Now this is just a preview of what is in the document. And joining me now with analysis is Fox News contributor, the one and only Karl Rove.

Karl, welcome back to the show. Thanks for being here.


HANNITY: All right, first of all this -- we expected maybe something that was a lot like the "Contract with America". This is more comprehensive. Far more detailed. And I want to get your initial reaction to it.

ROVE: Well, I like it. It's in five baskets, if you will -- jobs, spending, and health care, reform of Washington, defense of America. And each one of the 21 pages contains a series of specific practical suggestions in each one of these areas, most of which are already embodied in legislation that could be voted on if Congress would take it up.

Take for example only one thing Congress has got to do before it gets out for the fall campaign and that is fund the government with what's called a continuing resolution. And the Republicans have a proposal that says look, let's return spending to the way it was in 2008 except for soldiers, veterans and seniors, and fund the government that would save $100 billion, whacked off the top of the budget nearly over $1 trillion over the next decade.

And let's freeze the tax code for the next two years. If this was brought to the floor of the House of Representatives even with a minority Republicans this would pass. There'd be so much support for on both sides of the aisle.

HANNITY: All right. So if you're going to advise candidates, either the House or the Senate, they're going to get this document. They're going to unveil it tomorrow. We just gave a little summary of what's in this. You have summarized it as well.

How should they use this in the campaign?

ROVE: Well, I write about this tomorrow in my column for the Wall Street Journal. Because, look, the Democrats have been making error after error after error. And that means there is a tendency for the Republicans to sort of take their foot off the gas, you know, try and play it safe, you know run out the clock.

Now is the time to lay it on strong. We -- the Republicans have come this far because of very strong convictions about these big issues that face America and deep differences from the Democrats.

And between now and the election, 40 days from today, 39 from tomorrow morning, they need to make certain that the American people understand with clarity and conviction what it is they think is wrong and what it is that they would do.

And as you say this is a pretty good governing document, 21 pages of a list of practical steps in each one of these five --

HANNITY: We'll get into this with Terry McAuliffe a little bit later. Democrats aren't running on health care. They're not running on stimulus.

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: But they are using a lot of ad hominem attacks in a lot of the campaigns. Do you think ultimately that is an effective strategy? Demonizing President Bush, John Boehner, Sarah Palin?

ROVE: Yes, none of that works, though individual attacks on individual candidates may in some instances work. It depends on how people respond to them. But look, they've run out of ideas.

Remember this was going to be about how well the stimulus was working, the health care was going to be a great thing for them to run on. They're going to be able to run what a strong economy it has, how many jobs, 500,000 jobs a month, Joe Biden said.

All of these things have fallen by the wayside. So we're stuck back with the president adopting a very hyper-partisan tone and the Democrats tossing around adjectives and nasty words about the Tea Party and about conservatives and about the Republicans. And this is just -- not in my opinion going to work at the end of the day.

HANNITY: Last night we had Christine O'Donnell on the program. There was a lot of --

ROVE: Yes, you did. Yes, you did.

HANNITY: Well, and she answered a lot of the questions you wanted answered.

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: But there's been a lot -- there's a lot of press over your comments on this very program and I asked her about you and your comments.


SENATE CANDIDATE CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, R-DEL.: Well, I think maybe it's hard for them to see how this is possible. But again, I hope that they come around, because I'd like to unite the party. But we're going to get out there. We've got a winning message. We are right on the issues.

And just like in my primary debate, as my opponent kept attacking me, eventually the voters went hey, wait a minute, what about her positions? And it began to backfire.


HANNITY: And that was pretty much specifically -- you know, I was asking her about you and those that were critical.

ROVE: Yes. Well look, she's still 16 points behind in the Fox poll and 15 behind in the CNN poll. But I thought it was a very good sign of what she said last night because look, she's right. She is right on the issues. Coons is wrong on the issues.

The question is, will people in Delaware pay attention to her? She handled the witchcraft issue great. She made it a joke. She said I was young and foolish, and made a couple of jokes about it.

I thought she did a very good job in handling the foreclosure issue. Look, in March she told the Wilmington News that it was a, quote, "technical error by the bank" that she was foreclosed upon.

Last night she was more forthcoming. It wasn't a technical error. She had failed to pay her mortgage because she was working as a pro bono adviser to a fellow with a very compelling story.

Now people may say look, you shouldn't have been doing that, you should have been earning a salary to pay your bills. But at least she said it in the proper context in the most sympathetic light.

Before she wasn't willing to really deal with these FEC issues. She's now hired a top -- one of the best lawyers in the business -- Cleta Mitchell (ph)-- to handle it. And that's a good sign.

She's bringing aboard seasoned operatives. She's talking to KellyAnn Conway to be a pollster, Fred Davis to do her media. Jack St. Martin to be a consultant. She realizes she's got to bring her A game.

And she made a good point last night, which is you got to focus on the big issues. And my point about her campaign is she can't get the people to focus on the big issues unless and until she can get by these personal issues.

Now it's not all honky dory. She had a good witchcraft answer, which was I was young and foolish. But her opponent has already seized on that to say well, you know what? I was young and foolish when I wrote that stupid essay, saying I was a Marxist in college.

HANNITY: A bearded Marxist.

ROVE: A beaded Marxist. So he's -- he understands the difficulty. And taxes. She dealt with issue of taxes last night by saying, in March she told the Wilmington newspaper that she was puzzled why she had an IRS lien.

Last night she told you look, they gave me a letter saying it was their mistake that they issued the lien. Now the press is going to want to see that letter. And it begs the question did she owe taxes or not?

But she's on the right course, which is to recognize you got a problem. You can't solve a problem if you think hey, everybody is honky and dory and I don't have any -- I can just ignore these things. She's confronting them and I'm convinced that's the only way she's going to be able to pull the wax out of people's ears in Delaware and have them listen to her.

HANNITY: All right. What do you make of -- you know, races that I think a lot of people, a lot of pundits, we go back a couple of months they weren't predicting Barbara Boxer was going to be in trouble, or Russ Feingold --

ROVE: Right.

HANNITY: -- who's now down in double digits in -- and Patty Murray, West Virginia, we got a poll out yesterday. West Virginia's Republican is up now by three points there. A lot of states that nobody thought were in play is now -- are now in play. Your prediction as ask you our final question.

ROVE: Well, I think seven or eight seats in the Senate, and 37 to 45 in the House, but maybe as many as 55, and I'm starting to move a little bit up on the number that I think is going to be between that 37, 45 range.

Look, we're reaching to a point where the Democrats are pulling down their TV in Arizona in Phoenix because Mitchell -- Congressman Mitchell is in deep trouble. They're going to have to cut their advertising in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania where they're falling so far behind that it's going to be a waste of the resources.

We got to keep this battlefield building and expanding the Republicans do by making sure they've got good candidates, good message, and strong resources to keep building the file.

HANNITY: All right.

ROVE: The battlefield. But it's a bit -- looking pretty good.

HANNITY: Last question. Does it trouble you that Lisa Murkowski is running --

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: Does it trouble you Mike Castle won't endorse --

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: Does it trouble you that Charlie Crist ran independent?

ROVE: Well, look, Charlie Crist is going to be beat badly. Lisa Murkowski is going to always simply embarrass herself. As I said Sunday, Joe Miller won this thing fair and square and for her to do this now is just a sad and you know, sort of sad and pathetic end to a political career.

But I'm confident Miller at the end is going to beat. And my man Marco Rubio is going to just clean Charlie Crist's clock.

HANNITY: Marco Rubio may be president one day. There's my prediction early on. I'm going to hold on to this tape.

Karl Rove, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

ROVE: Thank you, sir. You bet.

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