Karl Rove on Obama: "He Blew It"

When it convenes in January, the new 112th Congress will feature 130 members of the Tea Party. They're all Republicans, but will they be able to work with party leaders? CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric put that question and others to former Bush administration official, GOP strategist and Fox News analyst Karl Rove Friday, as part of a wide-ranging interview.

Rove said that President Obama "had a unique moment. The country was ready to turn. And he blew it. He blew it by not doing in office what he said he would do on the campaign trail."




Karl Rove: There are going to be stresses and strains, because you've got a lot of new people. And it takes awhile for people to sort of figure out what they want to do and how they want to do it. Particularly if you got to have a new leadership structure in the House. But, all this talk about war is just that. Talk.

Couric: What do you see as the future for the Tea Party movement? Has it melded with the Republican Party?

Rove: This is a movement that's got to figure out what its role is. You do have some element of it. The most visible that say, 'We want to become an adjunct to the Republican Party and endorse candidates in primaries.'

But the vast bulk of Tea Party leaders that I come in contact with say, 'Look, we don't want to become part of either party. We want to hold the feet of politicians in both parties to the fire about issues of spending and deficit and the growth of government.' It's from the grassroots up, not the top down.

Couric: I know that repealing health care reform is at the top of the agenda, or one of the priorities for the incoming Republicans. But in our exit polls, half of Americans said they wanted it repealed. But another half said they wanted it kept as is or expanded. So, is that really a mandate?

Rove: Oh, I think so - absolutely. This is a scheme that will drown the country in red ink. I'm incredulous that we're allowing them to get away with this.

Couric: What realistically, though, can the House do when it comes to repealing health care reform, because the president will probably just veto it.

Rove: First of all, they ought to use every opportunity they can to cut away at and carve away at this. And if the president vetoes it, so be it. Let us make the 2012 election about whether or not you want to have the health care - health care in America dominated and run by the government.

Couric: Are you concerned so much focus on health care reform and repealing it by the Republicans will miss the mark in terms of what American voters care about, which is the economy, the economy, the economy?

Rove: The American people want action on jobs. The president, though, still doesn't get it - and neither does Speaker Pelosi. They both said, 'Well, if unemployment was, you know, five percent rather than 9.6 percent, everybody'd be happy.'

Well, there's a reason why it's not five percent. It's because we have bad policies in place.

Couric: Let me ask you about compromise versus gridlock. What are we going to see in Congress for the next two years?

Rove: You know, I don't know. I do think it's important that the Republicans be willing to compromise on details, but not compromise on fundamental principles.

Couric: In our exit polls, respondents disliked both parties equally. There's a lot of animosity in this country against the Republican Party, as well, as you well know.

Rove:Let's not kid ourselves, the Republicans are on probation. That's why they've got to do in office what they said they would do on the campaign trail when it comes to these big issues.

Couric: Let me ask you about Mitch McConnell's speech at The Heritage Foundation yesterday.

"If our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending; and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things it is to put someone in the White House who won't veto any of these things," Sen. McConnell said.

Rove: I find every bit of that reasonable. If the President vows that he will not listen to the American people and he will veto these bills, then ultimately these will become issues, as they should, in the 2012 presidential election.

Couric: Many comparisons have been made between this election and what happened to President Clinton in 1994, where he used it to his advantage. Newt Gingrich became a foil. He may have overreached in trying to shut down government. Do you think there could be a repeat of that this go around?

Rove: No. Because I think the Republicans learned from that. And I also think President Obama is not anywhere near as adroit a political operator and nimble as President Clinton was.

Couric: You've added a new chapter in your paperback version of the book called "Obama The Myth." What do you mean by that?

Rove: The myth is that he was a centrist in the 2008 campaign who has governed from the hard left. And he is also myth in that he portrays himself as a post-partisan, you know, conciliator. And instead, his rhetoric and actions have been very partisan.

And the thing that gets me about this President is he had a unique moment. The country was ready to turn. And he blew it. He blew it by not doing in office what he said he would do on the campaign trail.

Couric: Let's talk about 2012. What role do you want to play in the 2012 election?

Rove: I'm for the Republican nominee whoever he or she is.

Couric: Well, let me ask you this Twitter question. 'Will Karl Rove support Sarah Palin for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination?'

Rove: I am for whoever the nominee is. Whether, you know, whoever he or she is, I'm for 'em. I do not plan to get involved in the process. I intend to observe it and then be as strong as I can for the nominee.

Couric: Well, you sounded unsupportive when you said, with all due candor, "appearing on your own reality show on the Discovery Channel. I'm not certain how that fits in the American calculus of that helps me see you in the Oval Office."

Rove: Look, I'm a commentator. So, I'm going to be commenting on all of them. And I hope that all have thick skins enough so they don't take offense by what I say.
  • Katie Couric

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