George Stephanopoulos Pesters Rove: How Can Republicans 'Blow' Election?

Despite all the bad news for Barack Obama, George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday eagerly wondered just how the Republican Party can "blow" the 2012 election. The former Democratic operative turned journalist probed front-runner Rick Perry for limitations, wondering if the candidate will have to "disavow" parts of his 2010 book.

Talking to GOP strategist Karl Rove, Stephanopoulos quizzed, "You've also said President Obama is likely to lose next year and I guess my question is, how could the Republican Party blow it?"

[See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Playing up ths supposed controversial nature of Perry's book Fed Up, Stephanopoulos recounted, " And I think he's gotten the most attention for what he said about Social Security, calling it a Ponzi scheme. Compares it to a bad disease, something that's been imposed on us for 70 years."

Pushing Rove to proclaim the Texas Governor outside the mainstream, he added, "You know how much trouble that can be for a Republican candidate in a general election. So, how does he handle it and must he disavow some of these statements in the book?"
   
Of course, Stephanopoulos wasn't always so eager for politicians to be called on controversial issues. For instance, on March 18, 2008, he lauded then-candidate Obama's failure to separate himself from Reverend Jeremiah Wright: "By refusing to renounce Reverend Wright, that was in many ways an act of honor for Senator Obama."

Additionally, when the ABC anchor declared Obama the winner of every presidential debate in 2008, he didn't seem interested in how the Democrats could "blow" the election.

A transcript of the September 07 segment can be found below:


7:10am EDT

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get more on this now from a man who may know more about politics than anyone with the country. He is Fox News' contributor Karl Rove, of course President George W. Bush's top political strategist. He's also had a long relationship with fellow Texan Rick Perry. And I do I want to talk to about Rick Perry, Karl, but good morning to you. But, first, let's pick up on those Palin comments from your Fox colleagues last night. You suggested about a month ago that you thought she was getting in the race. Took a little heat from her for that, but you also said the tease can't get on- go on for so long. What is going on? Is she getting in or not?

KARL ROVE: You know, if you keep going to Iowa, and you keep going to New Hampshire and you keep making speeches like she's been making, you have to think that she's, you know, that she's going to get in. And, as I said, I wouldn't bet the ranch on it. I put a little more money that she's going to get in than she's not. But, it really is inexplicable for her to continue this as long as she has. If she wants to be a king-maker, there's a different way to go about doing it. And the longer she looks like a candidate and if she doesn't become a candidate, the weaker she will emerge out of this politically.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the candidates who are in the race right now. You heard John there. A new poll shows Rick Perry at the top of the Republican field right now and one of the most fascinating numbers in the poll for me, I want to show it, is that among Republican voters, 30 percent now believe that Perry has the best chance to beat President Obama. He's vaulted ahead of Mitt Romney, up at 20 percent. Michele Bachmann way down at four percent. Now, that runs exactly contrary to what the Obama campaign thinks. They believe that Romney would be the tougher candidate. What do you think?

ROVE: Well, look. I think we don't know yet. I love how we're trying to come to, you know, a conclusion at the beginning of the process. This, really, tonight, is going to be taking the Republican presidential sweepstakes to a new level. I remind you at this point four years ago, it was a two-man race as well. 30 percent of Republican primary voters supported Rudy Giuliani and 27 percent supported Fred Thompson. So, I mean, we are still relatively early in the process. We have got five months until people start voting and all kinds of things can and will happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And a lot of questions about how Rick Perry will handle this test. So much talk about his books and what he's written in his books, Fed Up. Questioning the 16th Amendment, which imposed the income tax. The 17th Amendment, direct election of senators. And I think he's gotten the most attention for what he said about Social Security, calling it a Ponzi scheme. Compares it to a bad disease, something that's been imposed on us for 70 years. You know how much trouble that can be for a Republican candidate in a general election. So, how does he handle it and must he disavow some of these statements in the book?

ROVE: What they've done thus far is, I think, inadequate, which is to basically say, "Look, we didn't write the book with the presidential campaign in mind." Well, okay, fine. But, they are going to have to find a way to deal with these things. 'Cause, as you say, they are toxic in a general election environment and they are also toxic in a Republican primary. I mean, if you say Social Security is a failure and ought to be replaced by a state-level program, then people are going to say, what do you mean by that and make a judgment based on your answer to it. So, each candidate has strengths. Each candidate also has challenges. This, for Governor Perry is his challenge. Now he's got some formidable strengths, but this is his biggest challenge.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've also said President Obama is likely to lose next year and I guess my question is, how could the Republican Party blow it?

ROVE: Well, they could blow it by having a candidate who could not appeal to the swing voters in this election, who are, who are conservative-minded independents, Latinos, white working class voters, the same kind of people that gave us a huge margin in the 2010 congressional election. The primary has to be a process by which our candidate is strengthened, not weakened and emerges at the end of it ready to conduct a general election campaign for the voters who are up for grabs in this election.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. Karl Rove, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org