There is something ironic about Karl Rove criticizing someone for being calculating. Right. Look, it's one thing to calculate and say, "What's the best way for me to do this?" It's another thing to say, "What's the best way to do this, even if it means the sacrifice of my fundamental principles?" When she stood up there and said, "I'm in front of an African-American group in Alabama, so let me adopt a phony southern accent!" And when she sat there and said, "You know what? I need to warm myself up, so for the next weeklong period I'm gonna sit there and laugh and cackle at anything that is even remotely funny." You know, when both she and he, who are free traders by instinct, went to Ohio and said, "We're gonna renegotiate NAFTA," when they know that (a) there's no provision to renegotiate NAFTA, and (b) the Canadians and the Mexicans are not gonna want to renegotiate NAFTA, and (c) when both of them understand that trade liberalization, particularly with our neighbors, has been to our economic advantage, who are they kidding?
But when people call you calculating, do you take that as a compliment? Look, what I'm charged with is, in politics, taking the material that I have to work with—which are the views and values, convictions and principles, of my candidate or client—and charting the best path to victory. That's different than saying, "How am I gonna take a fundamental belief or a reality of me as an individual and discard it?"
So there's good calculating and bad calculating? Absolutely.
If Hillary pulls it out, will Mark Penn [her chief strategist] be considered a genius? Mark Penn is a very smart guy regardless of whether or not she pulls it out. He's a very smart guy.
But don't you think there've been a lot of mistakes? Sure. But if you have to lay them at the feet of one person, you lay them at the feet of the candidate. The candidate sets the tone.
Are you surprised at how Obama exploded? You know, I want to be careful—I think we need to be careful about not getting carried away with a narrative that doesn't truly exist. Like the story this morning in The New York Times about "the Obamacans"—the Republicans who support Obama.
You don't buy that? No. Do I buy that there are Republicans who support Obama? Sure, I do. But take a look at the last four polls on which there are cross tabs available. There are twice as many Democrats defecting to McCain as there are Republicans defecting to Obama. In the Fox poll, Obama takes 74 percent of Democrats and loses 18 to McCain. And McCain keeps 80 percent of Republicans and loses 10 to Obama. And in every one of the polls, it's nearly twice as many Democrats defect to McCain as Republicans defect to Obama. And against Clinton, it's three times as many. Know why? Well, there are a lot of different reasons why. There are Democrats, particularly blue-collar Democrats, who defect to McCain because they see McCain as a patriotic figure and they see Obama as an elitist who's looking down his nose at 'em. Which he is. That comment where he said, you know, "After 9/11, I didn't wear a flag lapel pin because true patriotism consists of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin"? Well, to a lot of ordinary people, putting that flag lapel pin on is true patriotism. It's a statement of their patriotic love of the country. And for him to sit there and dismiss it as he did--
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