This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 13, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: I'm Sean Hannity. And our good friend, Bob Beckel, is here tonight to give me a hard time. He's sitting in for Alan.

Good to see you, Bob.


HANNITY: And we get right to our top story this evening. "The Architect," he's calling it quits after two presidential victories. Karl Rove will leave the White House at the end of the month, clearly marking the end of an era for the Bush administration. Now, the last time Karl appeared on this program was in early 2005 right after the president's reelection.


KARL ROVE, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Our country is a center-right country, and we're sort of — we're on the center and slightly to the right of the center. And the Republican Party is identified today as the center-right party of the country.

And Bill Clinton artfully understood with his new sort of third way Democrat — remember, he ran for president in 1992 talking about balanced budgets.

HANNITY: Welfare.

ROVE: Welfare reform and support of the death penalty. And he understood that there were symbolic steps that he could take to sort of emphasize his center credentials. But the country is center-right, and that's where the Republican Party is. That's why we won the last election. It's why we won the election in 2002 when we shouldn't have. That's why we won the election in 2000 when we should not have.


HANNITY: And joining us now with more is nationally syndicated radio talk show host Laura Ingraham. By the way, her brand-new book, "Power to the People," is launching. She's going to be at our Freedom Concert in New Jersey on September the 11th. We can wait to see you there.

And also joining us, former congressman, FOX News contributor Harold Ford, Jr., is with us.

You know, I've gotten to know him a little bit. First of all, I never met a guy as happy as he is, upbeat, optimistic, and I think he described America pretty accurately. I would think, based on some recent comments you made, do you agree with what he just said?

HAROLD FORD, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think in 2002, there was a hope on the part of many that perhaps they would govern that way. I think one of the reasons you have seen the numbers for the president drop as they have is what Karl Rove talked about that day, and I would even go back to when President Bush won in 2000, that we would bring the country together. They didn't quite achieve that. That may have been the intention, but they didn't quite achieve it.

HANNITY: Well, we're friends.

FORD: I mean, if you and I were the model for the country, it would be a better place.

HANNITY: Boy, you're saying that, that's not going to help you. Look, I watched you on "Meet the Press" this weekend...


FORD: ... to get a fresh start. It's probably good for him to get a fresh start.

HANNITY: I watched you on "Meet the Press" this weekend, and there you were, debating this guy from the DailyKos, Kos, I call him the Daily "Kooks." And, you know, here's a guy — and you were a gentleman. And I think what you said, that if the Democratic Party doesn't move to the center, they're going to lose the election. But yet this is — they didn't go to see your convention. You're the chairman of the DLC. But they did go where to their convention, the DailyKos Convention, Kos convention, where this guy that you were debating once said about four dead American contractors in Iraq, "Screw them." What does that say about the Democratic presidential candidates?

FORD: Well, I'll let them defend that. I will say that I know their (INAUDIBLE) things up. But he and I have some disagreements on things, but here's not where my — my fight is not with him.

HANNITY: Screw them, and a presidential candidate...

FORD: My fight is not with him. My real challenge, and I think all of us, are looking for ways, at least (INAUDIBLE) table, to get Democrats not only to come back to the middle, but to find a message that can unite the country, national security, values, and managing people's taxes more effectively. And I dare say, this president on two of those fronts has not achieved the levels that Americans want, on immigration and on deficit spending and even tax...


HANNITY: ... great plan for immigration this week. He tried to work with the Democrats.


FORD: Sean, in fairness, I've bet on this show, and I've heard you say things about the president's plan on that front.

HANNITY: On the Kennedy amnesty plan...


FORD: But we can't blame Kennedy...


HANNITY: Yes, we can.


FORD: The reality is, the country I think is right in the center. Whichever party captures that space will be elected. And I'm going to do everything I can, working with Bob Beckel, to put our party there.

HANNITY: Laura, first of all, I look forward to seeing your book when it comes out. We're going to see you at the concert. First of all, I have a hard time justifying a presidential candidate, all of the Democrats going to this DailyKos convention, and the leader of this Web site says about four dead Americans, "Screw them." Your thoughts?

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It seems to me, Sean, that the Democrat Party has been moving to the left because that's where they think they're going to win. I mean, they're not moving to the left because they think it's a losing position. And not to defend the DailyKos, however, when you're constantly targeting the middle or the moderates, as Harold called them, it's pretty tough, because the middle is always shifting, right? I mean, it's shifting to where the left or right is more persuasive.

It's not like the moderates are identifiable group with identifiable positions on the number of key issues. They kind of move to either where conservatives or liberals guide them, either successfully or not. So I think targeting the middle is a very risky political strategy. And I've got to say, at least the DailyKos people are honest with what they want. They want a country that's much different, and it's certainly not where I'd want the country to go, much different from the center-right country than I think Karl Rove talked about and that President Reagan wanted.

BECKEL: Laura, let's get back to Karl Rove for a second. I'm glad you raised his name. This timing of his leaving, we're about to get into the peak of a presidential election here. It is going to be an important election year for Republicans for obvious reasons. You've got a very wounded president, a very unpopular president. From a strategic standpoint, I'm trying to figure out how you use Bush or don't use him, both in terms of his relationship with the next GOP nominee for president, and Senate and Congress races. It seems to me that's Karl Rove's great strength. Isn't he leaving at exactly the wrong time?

INGRAHAM: I don't think so. I mean, he's been with the president for decades. I mean, he's been doing what he's been doing now in the campaign and the White House for eight, nine years, when you add just the presidential campaign up for the last seven years. So this is a grind, and this is grueling. I mean, I know the left wants to have this major black helicopter moment with, oh, Karl Rove is leaving now because the investigation, it's a disaster for Republicans.

But let me say this, Bob. I'll agree with you probably on one thing, which is that, like all of us in this world that we live in, we all are going to have a mixed legacy, right? And Karl Rove is really smart. He's a number-cruncher. He's a political strategist. But when it came to key issues, spending, the president's failure to veto spending bills, campaign finance, his signing it, and immigration reform, all three issues, he bucked conservatism and the conservative trend. And he lost big time. That was a big loss for Karl Rove.

BECKEL: He lost in a lot of other areas, too. I'd have to reach to figure out what he's accomplished. But leaving that aside, back to the question, who does do the job...


BECKEL: Who does do the job then that Karl Rove would do to politically deal with damaged property like George Bush? I mean, who is in the position of influence to do that?

INGRAHAM: Well, I don't think — the Bush administration doesn't seem like it's really in the business of persuading people on key issues anymore. I mean, that was Karl Rove's real talent is persuading large parts of the country that this direction or that direction was the best way to go politically. And I don't think the Bush administration is really doing that now. They only have 17 months or so left, and they're going to do it the best they can to try to keep this surge in place. And it's all about Iraq, so I don't really know what Karl Rove's role would be.

BECKEL: Let me ask Harold Ford. Harold, there's a lot of people left in this White House, the budget director, Portman, political director Taylor. Does look like a bunch of people leaving a sinking ship to you?

FORD: Look, I think that the president needs a new start. He's trying to figure out in the next year and a half, in light of some of the failures and missteps, how he can move forward. Without a doubt, the war is the key issue.

I would take issue with one thing my friend, Laura, said. When you think about the middle, and I think about the eight years prior to President Bush coming up, I think about the balance budgets, I think about surpluses, I think about 43 million more Americans with health care, more children going to college. The bottom 20 percent of America is seeing their incomes rise by 24 percent. I think of environmental accomplishments...


HANNITY: ... revenues to the government have never been higher, record numbers.


BECKEL: This guy's going to be down with Herbert Hoover in the record books.


HANNITY: When we come back, I'm going to tell Bob about Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid's approval ratings, which is 14 percent, Bob.

BECKEL: If we'd end the war, it wouldn't be.

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