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Karl Rove on Background Checks for Guns, the Issue of Muslims for President, and the 2016 Presidential Election

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Karl Rove talks with Hugh about the recent Oregon State shooting and the need for psychiatric background checks for gun ownership, Dr. Ben Carson’s recent statement of Muslims running for President, and the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

The audio: 10-1hhs-rove

The transcript:

HH: I’m joined now by Karl Rove,, of course, political genius extraordinaire. Fox news contributor. Wall Street Journal writer. Karl, it seems too often that I have to begin an hour with a story like this, and I began the show talking to Dr. Ben Carson about the need for background checks into the mental health of people. That came up. I actually asked Governor Bush that question at the first debate, and it’s a hard one to answer. What’s the right answer on this?

KR: Well, I do think that we’ve got to do a better job of public health authorities who know of people who could be potential dangers to their community, their information being shared with law enforcement, and I’m reluctant to put any restraints at all on the Second Amendment but if this turns out to be somebody who is mentally ill, a copycat-killer, we’re not going to be able to stop them all, but we do need to do a better job of keeping guns out of the hands out of the people who have a mental illness. A lot of this is personal responsibility. The Connecticut shooter, for example, his mother was aware of his challenges and yet allowed him access to the family guns.

HH: It’s almost impossible – the hit standard – that does comes back to whether or not families are responsible. Second thing I asked Dr. Carson about, he’s been repeatedly asked about Muslims for President. I asked him the more obvious question about Muslim Americans for the Federal bench, and we have Article VI guarantee against a religious test. But he sort of worked his way around to saying we have to question people closely about their religious beliefs if they were Muslim. Do you agree with that Karl Rove?

KR: Well, I think that we ought to question about their commitment to American pluralism and the tenets of our great democracy. I am reluctant to engage in questioning people about their religion or assuming from the get-go that if they associate themselves with a certain religion that they are somehow opposed to the tenets of our American society, but look, I have said at meetings at the White House about federal judges. I participated on a six-person panel that interviews prospective Supreme Court justices, and you do want to understand what their motivations are, what their worldview is, what their view of American society, so those are entirely appropriate. But I don’t it is appropriate to say “What kind of a Catholic are you, John Roberts,” or “What kind of a Catholic are you, Scalia?” And I think it’s more appropriate to ask them questions and get a good sense of how they view American and American culture and society and our Constitution and it applies to the lives of Americans.

HH: I wrote a piece for Time Magazine – I don’t know if it’s up yet today – about Chief Justice Roberts and the fact he came in for heavy weather in the last Republican debate and he’ll probably come in for heavy weather in the Democratic debate. And that he actually isn’t the problem. The problem is people like David Souter who was appointed by the first President Bush and William Brennan under Eisenhower – people who go in knowing they’ve got absolutely no attachment to the President’s judicial philosophy. I don’t think the Chief Justice is any kind of indictment of W.’s approach. Do you?

KR: I don’t. You can’t guarantee – look, the sainted Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Kennedy, and I’m not certain that if Ronald Reagan were a member of the Supreme Court, he would’ve ruled the way that either one of them have ruled on a number of occasions. But they were both generally center-right as was Ronald Reagan. So you can’t determine how and you shouldn’t want to predetermine how a justice is going to rule on any specific case because that is predetermining the outcome on looking at the law and its application and the merits of the case, but just sort of blindly deciding things in advance on the basis heartfelt belief.

HH: Alright Karl Rove, before we turn to the presidential election underway, I want to ask you about Kevin McCarthy, almost certainly going to be the new Speaker though some people are upset with his comments about Benghazi which I understood simply to be noting the cause-and-effect, not the motive behind the Benghazi investigation. What’s your reaction to the McCarthy comments?

KR: Well, I have the same reaction you do which is now you’re going to be thrust on, it’s a good lesson for him to have now which is when you are the Speaker of the House, you are one of the most powerful figures in America. You are very close in line to the Presidency, you occupy [a] unique role defined by the Constitution and honored throughout our history and then suddenly everything you say is going to be taken in a much more serious vein. But like you, I took it as not cause-and-effect but just simply that as the committee did its necessary and appropriate work, Hilary Clinton has created problems for her own credibility by a series of answers which have turned out not to be true. Every single thing that she has said regarding her private email account has turned out not to be true and her own testimony before Congress where she basically threw up her hands and disclaimed any responsiblity saying, “What difference does it make now.” That’s what created the problem for her, not simply the existence of the committee.

HH: Now she cut herself coring an apple and blaming the apple on the knife and not the fact that it was her. Let me ask you then about the 2016 race, and first of all, what did you make of the last debate and of course, the extraordinary well-prepared panelists that participated there.

KR: (Laughs) Well, first of all, you needed to get more airtime. I wanted both you and Bash to get more than Tapper. He’s a good questioner and a smart guy, but I tuned in to watch a threesome, not to watch Tapper.

HH: Well, it went exactly according to plan, and he was Cardale Jones, I’m just Braxton Miller. But in any event, what about the eleven? The real people onstage. How did they do?

KR: I think a lot of people did themselves some good that night. Obviously, the one who did herself the most good was Carly Fiorina. I thought Marco had a good night. I thought Jeb had a reasonably good night. Carson didn’t have the moment that he had in the previous debate but if you like his style, you paid attention. And Christie, I thought, had a good night. Rand Paul, I was a little surprised that he sort of fumbled I thought. And Walker had a weak performance, I think I can understand why having walked out of that he was a position where he quickly made a decision. But I thought it was pretty good. I frankly thought the great moment of the evening was not what was said, but was a nonverbal gesture. When Trump made the mistake of trying to make amends for having said “Look at that face, look at that face,” and he leans into the microphone, grabs the podium with both hands and bellows that he thinks she’s got a beautiful face, he really likes her beautiful face, the split-camera with Carly Fiorina, every husband has seen a variation of that face, that “I don’t believe a word you’re saying, I can’t believe you think I’m so stupid as to believe what you’ve just said, and I’m going to even give you a response to it because it is so absurd.” That was the great moment of the evening. He came out the loser and she came out the winner.

HH: I tell everyone I had the best seat in the house and I had no idea how it went because I couldn’t see the split-screen. So Karl Rove, at the end of this, I wrote a piece for Politico. I see the true believers breaking down. They’ve made up their mind, they’re going to support Trump or Carson or Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee. Those people are not for turning, but the other five – Fiornia, Rubio, Bush, Christie, and Kasich – they are all fighting for each other’s voters and for every free radical that is floating around out there in the universe. Am I right?

KR: I read the piece. I thought it was very good. I largely agree with it. I would have just this argument to make. I think you’re right when you describe the second group. They are all out there fighting for the people who under no circumstances will be going for a Trump or a somebody that they view as inexperienced. I’m not so certain that that’s necessarily the case with regard to the description of the first group. This is not scientific, but I’m finding myself as I go through airports and as I travel a lot, so I run into people in the street or in a restaurant or – (phone rings) – I’m sorry, I made a gross violation there.

HH: It’s a terrible radio rule. It’s sort of like–

KR: I can’t believe it, I thought I turned it off.

HH: I was once in the office with your boss when Neil Boortz hadn’t turned off his phone and I saw a look like Carly Fiorina’s.

KR: Don’t ever have your phone on in the Oval Office–

HH: (Laughs)

KR: . . . A presidential look that would be even worse than Carly Fiorina’s in the second debate.

HH: Neil Boortz retired soon thereafter. That’s all I’ll say is (laughs).

KR: But the more that I go around, people come up to me and they say, “ What do you think about Trump?” And I say, “Well, you tell me what you think about Trump.” And a lot of them have a variant of the following. I was at Sioux Falls, South Dakota the other day, on my way to Sioux City, Iowa, and a guy says to me that question. And I said, “You tell me what you think.” He said, “Well, I like that he’s got spunk and he seems like a strong guy and he’s really opinionated, and I like him.” And he said, “But you know, you just can’t have a president saying those kind of things. I just don’t know if he’s the right man for the job anymore.” My sense is that we’re going to see of that happen. That there’s going to be sort of a wash and rinse cycle where people move away from Trump. I think we’re starting to see it the polls. And where they end up is not going to be the next person they’re with. It’s going to be maybe one or two choices after that, but I do think people are starting to take this seriously and starting to say, “Do I really want the person I thought I might have been for. Do I really want them in a job that is that important and in my face for the next four to eight years.

HH: Karl Rove, you’re going to get another Trump tattoo. I’ve got one. You got a few. I think you’re just going to get another one right now, but I appreciate you joining me. Karl Rove. Find everything he writes at Don’t go anywhere, America. It’s the Hugh Hewitt Show.

End Transcript


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