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Karl Rove On Democrat Desperation Three Weeks Out From the Midterms

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HH: I begin today with the Architect, Karl Rove. Karl, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

KR: Hewitt, good to be back on.

HH: Now I must say, I’m a little worried about having you on, because you’ve become the target for all incoming DNC missiles. Here’s a little bit of a sample of what they’re saying about you, Karl.

DNC AD: Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie. They’re Bush cronies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They’re shills for big business. And they’re stealing our democracy.

HH: Karl Rove, don’t steal our democracy.

KR: Exactly, exactly. Simply by following the techniques laid down by the Democrats, adopted by the Democrats in the aftermath of the signing of BICRA, Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, by Republicans doing what Democrats have been doing, we’re somehow a threat to democracy? I don’t get it.

HH: I don’t, either, but as Bob Schieffer said to David Axelrod yesterday, that’s all they’ve got? Attacks on…

KR: That’s the best you can come up with?

HH: Four years ago you left the White House, Karl.

KR: Exactly.

HH: So what is going on inside of the Obama political machine, that this is the level that they’ve had to get down to?

KR: Well look, I think it’s deliberate on their part, and I think it’s as a result of two things. And I’m thinking about writing about this, this week in my Wall Street Journal column, so bear with me here. I’m sort of spinning the idea and working it up here. One is I think they want to have an alternative narrative as to why they’re getting beaten so bad. They’re going to get beaten this badly this November because they’ve got bad policies, whether it’s spending, the stimulus, deficit, health care. You name it, their policies have, the American people have had it with them. So what they want is a counter-narrative. And the counter-narrative is the election was stolen by foreign campaign contributions funneled through the Chamber of Commerce, or gotten out by those evil-doers, Rove and Gillespie. But the other thing is this. I think look, last week was a bad week for them. It was the last jobs report before the election. Unemployment remained high. We actually lost jobs in September. And we’re sort of inching into a situation that’s sort of like Europe, where we have permanent high unemployment, structural unemployment, even higher underemployment. And these guys want to distract attention from it, because they know that the more we talk about the economy and what they’ve done to the economy, and what they’ve failed to achieve for the economy, the worse off they are at the polls. So I think they’ve adopted this, because it’s better than talking about what the real issue is.

HH: There’s a second story that is not getting much attention as they throw dust up, Karl Rove, and that is President Obama’s incredible shrinking senior staff. He’s lost his chief of staff, his NSC advisor, the chair of his economic security council, the chairman of his economic advisors, and many others.

KR: Yeah, the director of the OMB.

HH: You went through…is that unprecedented for a…

KR: Well you know, first of all, it’s not unusual to lose a lot of staff, because the average tenure of a senior White House aide is about eighteen months. What is…so it’s not unusual for people to come and go. There are two things here that are different. One is we sort of got used to it in the Bush years because of the stability of the White House staff. I was there for seven years. The President had two chiefs of staff over eight years. People got used to the White House staff being more stable. So this is going back to what it used to be like. But the other thing is this. These people are leaving before the election, almost like they want to skedaddle out of town. Why did Rahm Emanuel need to leave now rather than waiting five weeks? And I think it’s because they want to avoid having, you know, they want to avoid leaving after November 2nd when it looks like they were drummed out because of the American people. And the other thing that gets me is look, when I left the White House, you know, a close, personal friend of the President that’s worked there for seven, nearly seven years, you know, I had like three minutes or four minutes on the South White House lawn. They send Rahm Emanuel off with a gigantic East Room ceremony. Now look, I’m not disappointed. I eventually got you know, a little East room party for my friends and family. But you know, the idea that you have someone with a departure ceremony, with the national media in attendance as you hail your outgoing chief of staff, it was sort of like we were seeing the departure of the prime minister, not the departure of the president’s staff aide.

HH: Very interesting. Now Karl, we’re going to be talking a lot about the years you were in the White House when you and I get together in Colorado on October 29th at 7pm, and people can find that at And I need to get the new memoir, the one with the updated preface from you so I can grill you on that stuff. But I want to look forward now to politics. And in particular, I want to look at the West Coast. Yesterday, I moderated a town hall debate between Rudy Giuliani and Meg Whitman, a town hall conversation. And Rudy came all the way across the country, because it’s so important for California to win. You know this state just about as well as anyone. What do you think, what do you make of the Whitman campaign for governor?

KR: Well, first of all, I’m not in the state, so I don’t see the ins and outs. But I do think the daily tit-for-tat and the thing, but she has been a focused and disciplined candidate who has been talking about jobs, who has been putting her own resources into the campaign and being very explicit about it so nobody thought she was trying to hide anything. And she has been saying we’ve got big challenges we need to tackle, and she’s outlined ways to tackle them. And Brown has been sort of waiting, waiting, waiting, and then occasionally lobbing something towards her. And then, he got caught in his own mistake. I mean, having the telephone conversation which his staff aide refers to her as a whore, and Brown agrees with him and says we’re going to use that, I mean, my sense is this has got to be offensive to a lot of Californians. And how can you be tomorrow if you’re the guy who’s not only yesterday, but the day before yesterday and the year before yesterday? I mean, he’s so old news out there. But it’s a tough state, as you know, and it’s going to be very close.

HH: Let me go out to the other side of the country to Florida. And obviously, you know Florida from 2000.

KR: Yup.

HH: Marco Rubio’s ahead in a three-way, but there continue to be these intimations that Meeks is going to drop out. What do you think happens there?

KR: Look, Rubio wins regardless of whether Meek stays in or not. And I think the Democrats will do themselves a grave, grave disservice if they try and force Meek out. And I sort of hope they do get him forced out, because it will be just, it will be internal civil war. I mean, first of all, Meek actually did pretty good in the debate this week, and he is, you know, he’s the real Democrat. You’ve got a phony Democrat, Mr. I-Have-No-Principles,-Where-Can-I-Go-In-Order-To-Get-Myself-Elected, Charlie Crist, who is a complete weasel. But the thing is, is that Meek is doing well, and if the President forces him out, there’s going to be hell to pay inside the Democratic party for it.

HH: Now looking up to Ohio, you won the President’s reelection campaign in the Buckeye state in 2004. Now, you’ve got John Kasich and Portman, you’ve got people like Josh Mandel and Jim Renacci downticket. Are you amazed at how quickly Ohio has turned back from the blue politics of 2008 to the red politics of 2004?

KR: I am. You put your finger on it. In fact, it’s moved even faster than you’d think, because early this year, if you looked at it, if the country had moved five or six points to the right, Ohio had moved only two or three. It was lagging the rest of the country. But look, there is a guy whom you don’t know, I suspect, who has got a lot to do with this named Kevin DeWine. He is the state Republican party chairman. He is a distant cousin of Mike DeWine. He’s a state legislator himself. He’s one of the best state chairman I’ve seen in the country, and he worked assiduously to have a fantastic ticket. And these high quality candidates went out there with a very positive and optimistic and forward-looking vision, and as a result, you’re right. We’re poised for a complete recovery in Ohio, and it looks like they’re going to sweep a lot of the statewide offices. They’re going to pick up the Ohio House, and I’d bed you they knock off at least three, and conceivably four or maybe five Democrat members of Congress.

HH: Now Karl Rove, I’m talking with three Congressional candidates today, Ryan Frazier from Colorado…

KR: Terrific.

HH: Ruth McClung from Arizona, Dee Adcock from Philadelphia – all sleepers. Where do you see surprises happening?

KR: Well, I think, who was the second one, incidentally, that you mentioned?

HH: Ruth McClung out of Arizona.

KR: Oh, rocket scientist.

HH: You bet.

KR: Yeah, look, you’ve got a good list of them there. I was with Ryan Frazier doing a fundraiser for he and Scott Tipton, and Cory Gardner in Aspen a couple of weeks ago. There’s another sleeper in that state in the form of Scott Tipton…

HH: Yup.

KR: …who is running against John Salazar, Ken, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s brother, incumbent Democrat from the southwestern part of the state. I think he’s going to win. There’s going to be, you mentioned Ohio, there’s going to be a really interesting, there’s a very interesting Congressional candidate there named Jim Renacci, who is running against Bocieri…

HH: yup.

KR: …who is the incumbent Democrat representing the Canton area. Renacci is a guy who literally was…GM came to him a couple of years ago and said look, you’re a successful entrepreneur who has created a lot of businesses and rescued a lot of businesses. We want you to rescue this failing car dealership in the Canton area, which he did. He stepped in and did it, spent three years and a lot of money doing it. And then of course, when Obama comes in, what they do is they show up on his doorstep and say okay, now that you’ve rescued this car dealership and turned it into a going enterprise, we’re going to shut you down. And this energized him. He was completely apolitical before that. But it completely radicalized him, and made him jump into politics as a strong conservative. And he’s run in the primary and won an upset, and has been turned into a terrific candidate for the general election.

HH: So how high is the ceiling for the Republicans on the House and the Senate and the Governorships come November 2nd, Karl Rove?

KR: Well look, we could win ten seats in the Senate. I think we’re more likely to win eight or nine, but we could win ten, or we could win eleven. And we may not know the outcome of the Senate for several days, because the 10th seat could be Dino Rossi in Washington state.

HH: Sure.

KR: And the House, I’m sort of a 39-45 guy, but leaning more towards the 43-45. But we could go all the way to 55 with these sort of surprises that are popping here at the end. For example, there’s a seat in Maine, the 1st district. The Democrat candidate was the former president of Common Cause, and she testified in Congress against members of Congress flying on private planes and other people’s jets. Well, come to find out, since she got elected to Congress two years ago, she has been flying back and forth to Maine in a private plane owned by her boyfriend, a very nice jet.

HH: That could change things in a hurry. Karl Rove, I will see you on the 29th at the Douglass County Event Center, looking forward to it, 7pm., America, if you want to get tickets to that as I talk to him about the Bush years.

End of interview.


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