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Karl Rove on the Ground Zero Mosque, Prop. 8, and Republican Strategy from now to election day

Friday, August 13, 2010
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HH: Joined now by Karl Rove, The Architect, author of Courage And Consequence, available at Amazon.com, and now a talk radio show host. Hi, Karl, welcome.

KR: Hugh, how are you?

HH: I’m great. How did you enjoy your time behind the golden mic of the EIB?

KR: Well, it was lots of fun, but boy, I walked away with a healthy respect for people like you and Rush and Sean and others who do this day in and day out. I mean, it took a lot of preparation, and boy, when I walked out of the room, my brain hurt.

HH: Well, you sounded awfully good. I thought I wished you had had more trouble with your marks and things like that. I don’t want people just thinking anyone can walk in off the street and do this stuff.

KR: (laughing)

HH: Hey, and by the way, how is your book doing?

KR: It’s doing great. They’re very happy with it. The publisher, Simon And Schuster, they want to bring out a paperback version in November, and they’ve asked me to write a new chapter, which I’ve done, on President Obama and the Democrats, and we’re putting it in final stages, and it’ll be out in early November.

HH: Then we’re going to do the long sit-down then when the new one comes out. By the way, have you talked with President Bush about his book yet?

KR: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And he’s, it’s pretty well put to bed. They’re honing the plans for its launch on the 9th of November, the week after the election. And it’s going to be, I’ve read a little bit of it. It’s going to be very good.

HH: Do you think it will impact the elections if it’s leaked before then, and do you worry about it being leaked by people inside of publishing?

KR: Well, and it won’t be leaked beforehand. It is, there’s no intent to get pre-publicity by leaking certain elements of it, and putting it in the hands of this journalist or that. It won’t be shipped until literally, you know, it won’t be put on the trucks until the day before, and it won’t hit the warehouses until after. I mean, President Bush did not want to be, his book to be part of the 2010 election, and to give Democrats any sort of ability to shoot at it. And so the plan has always been to bring it out after the election, and they’re taking special steps to make sure. I mean, it’s an embargoed book, so this is a book about which they made a deliberate decision they don’t need to let little tidbits out in order to entice people to read it.

HH: Now that’s part and parcel of your piece in the Wall Street Journal today, the blame Bush strategy won’t work. And of course, they’ll manipulate the manuscript if they could to try and get Bush into this election.

KR: Sure.

HH: But I agree with you. I don’t, I think this is a blind alley for these folks to try and go down.

KR: Yeah, in fact, look, as I said in my piece, it’s, don’t take your word for it, Hugh, or my word for it. Your listeners ought to take the word of Barack Obama’s pollster, a guy named Beneson, who in a poll for the Third Way, they publicized the finding well, if you say who do you blame, Bush or Obama, it’s 53% blame Bush, and 26% blame Obama. 21% don’t have an opinion, which sort of grabbed my attention when I read that number, because that’s a large percentage of people who don’t have an opinion. And about something like this, you’d think they would. So I dug into the data set, and hidden in the data set, and unmentioned in the commentary, the cover memo, they asked the question another way. They said do you think it was Obama, Bush, Wall Street and the big banks, or American consumers who lived beyond their means. And in that instance, 80% of the people don’t blame Bush. So if you’re Barack Obama going out there and saying well, it’s all Bush’s fault, this economy, this lousy economy is Bush’s fault, you’re running into resistance, because four out of every five Americans don’t think it’s Bush’s fault.

HH: Yeah, that’s remarkable.

KR: Yeah.

HH: It’s a must-read piece in the Wall Street Journal. Now Karl, I want to ask you about some of the other issues out there. Before I do, though, give me a little tip. I’m debating Howard Dean in Houston for KNTH on September 13th. I know you’ve done a few debates with the former chairman of the DNC. What’s the best advice for tangling with Howard?

KR: I’ve got three rules. One is go well armed with the facts, because he won’t, two, make him defend Obama, because he won’t, and three, you know you’ve got him on the ropes when he starts calling you a liar.

HH: All right. That’s good. I’ll put that away. Now let’s talk about three issues – Proposition 8, Ground Zero Mosque, and the Missouri vote on Obamacare. To what extent to these issues impact the November set up, Karl, which is primarily about the economy and about Obamacare, but we can’t ignore, these are three big issues out there.

KR: Yeah, I think the Missouri referendum has a direct impact. The others have a tangential impact, but they will have an impact. You know, in states, in some of these vulnerable Democrats in states like Arkansas and in Mississippi and Kentucky, and the more conservative parts of Pennsylvania, and Ohio, this decision by the federal judge in California to throw out the will of the people of California in Proposition 8 is going to be an issue. People are going to want to know where candidates are on the issue of traditional marriage, even if there’s nothing that they think their member of Congress or their governor or their senator can do about it. The fact that this has been intruded back into the process by the activate judge, overturning the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box, is going to be an issue. The Missouri one will be a huge impact. I mean, think about this. This is the quintessential battleground state. I mean, it’s Missouri, won in the 2008 election by 8,000 votes by John McCain. This is a battleground each and every presidential election. And for the huge turnout that this thing had, and to have 71% vote note, I mean, look. About 15% of the Democrats, at least 15% of the Democrats who came out and voted in the Democratic primaries, voted against Obamacare. And it looks like, I mean, Missouri is one of these states where you get to pick a primary that you vote in, and that’s your party.

HH: Right.

KR: You’re…it’s an open state, open primary state. There are 40,000 people who vote in the ballot referenda against Obamacare who don’t bother to cast a ballot in the Republican senate primary. Of course, it wasn’t much of a contested primary, but they came in, into the primary, to register their vote against Obamacare. That’s a pretty big indication in a quintessential battleground state on how this issue is coming down.

HH: And that everyone on the Republican side ought to be talking about Obamacare all day, everyday.

KR: Absolutely.

HH: But what about the Ground Zero Mosque? What’s your advice to people on this? It’s just not going to go away as an issue.

KR: It’s not, and look, I respect Mayor Bloomberg’s opinion on this, but this is wrong for this mosque to be built in this place. This is a lack of religious sensitivity on the part of its sponsors. And the absence of transparency in the financing of this add further weight to the argument that these people are attempting to be triumphant. They’re trying to build a mosque…I mean, even the name, you know, when you look underneath the surface, gives you a little bit of discomfort. I mean, the Cordoba Revival, I mean, named after the city in Spain that was conquered by Islam, and sealed the fate of previously Christian Spain. And what they did was they took the oldest Catholic church, Christian church in the country, and turned it into a mosque. And to go out of your way to name this thing after that seems to me to be, to give us a sense of who it is. And the actors about this are insensitive and bad guys. I mean, the imam in question has said very ugly things in the aftermath of 9/11, and the people who are running with him, to me, are people who are clearly looking to score points in an ideological war, not to provide a community center for Muslims to peaceably assemble and discuss things. I mean…

HH: All right, last question. Karl, I’ve got to get one more in…

KR: Yeah.

HH: …and that is simply that Democrats are attacking some of our nominees as wacky. You know, they’re going after Angle and Paul and now Ken Buck. From a party with Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray, that’s bold. But what’s the best response? We’ve got about 45 seconds.

KR: Well, I think the best response is to go straight back at them. And look, when they’ve called Sharon Angle wacky, say look, what Harry Reid has done and said over the years is wacky. We need to confront them directly. Go straight at the issues, and say when Barbara Boxer attacks you, say look, you know, talk about wacky, here’s somebody who did the following when a general addressed her as ma’am. When they attack Buck as wacky, say no, no, no. Wacky is voting for the stimulus, voting for cap and trade, and voting for Obamacare. Now that’s wacky.

HH: Karl Rove, always a pleasure. The book is Courage And Consequence. Look forward to a long sit-down about it when the paperback comes out.

End of interview.

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