Rove on Clinton: She ‘Barely Beat Nobody Else’

Jan 16, 2008 3:27pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Talal Al-Khatib Report: Former Bush adviser Karl Rove slammed Sen. Hillary Clinton’s, D-N.Y., performance in the Michigan primary during a Wednesday speech to the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C.

Watch the VIDEO HERE.

"I want you to look at the results of last night’s primary in Michigan," said Rove. "Sen. Clinton’s name was on the ballot and none of her principal opponents were. Fifty-five percent of the people turned out and voted for her. She got 328,151 votes, but 236,723 people turned out for the Democratic primary to vote for ‘uncommitted’."

"Think about that," Rove continued. "If you run against nobody, and nobody gets 40 percent of the vote. The other 5 percent of the vote went for three other people. 27,924 votes went for the guy who believes in UFO’s, the guy who dropped out, and the guy who last held public office somewhere around 1855. That’s a pretty remarkable testament to the deep concerns the Democrats have about Senator Clinton when she can’t barely beat nobody else."

The three unnamed Democrats alluded to by Rove as having picked up five percent of the vote against Clinton are Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio congressman who confirmed at an October debate that he has seen some kind of unidentified flying object, Chris Dodd, the Connecticut senator who dropped out of the presidential race after the Michigan ballot was printed, and Mike Gravel, who represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate from 1969-81. 

The Clinton campaign responded to Rove’s dig by noting that two Obama supporters — Michigan Rep. John Conyers and his wife, Detroit City Council President Pro Tempore Monica Conyers — ran a radio ad in Detroit encouraging Democrats to vote "uncommitted" in the primary.

Even though Clinton’s top two rivals did not appear on the ballot, a Clinton spokesman sought to frame the 15-point margin over "uncommitted" as a positive affirmation.

"Anytime you win a race by a 15-point margin, it’s a great victory," said Clinton spokesman Phil Singer.

Obama and former Sen. John Edwards removed their names from the Michigan ballot after the Democratic National Committee declared that no delegates chosen in Michigan’s Democratic primary would be seated at this summer’s convention. The DNC blocked Michigan from holding a delegate-awarding contest because it violated national party rules when it was scheduled before Feb. 5.

Clinton refrained from campaigning in Michigan but she left her name on the ballot.

A spokesman for Monica Conyers joined Rove in offering a blistering assessment of Clinton’s Michigan performance. The spokesman to Monica Conyers also sought to tie the unusually high "uncommitted" vote to the recent Martin Luther King and "fairy tale" comments made by Clinton and her husband, the former president.

“Michigan was the first time, where in effect, the vote was a referendum on the racially insensitive remarks of both candidate Clinton and former President Clinton," said Sam Riddle, a spokesman for Monica Conyers, "and the verdict rendered by black voters in Michigan was nothing less than a complete rejection of the Clinton candidacy."

"Forty percent of Democratic voters selected uncommitted: an invisible, non-entity," he added. "She acts as if she has inherited the black vote, and nothing could be further from the truth."

Obama said on a Jan. 13 conference call with reporters that Clinton was "ill-advised" for making comments which he saw as minimizing the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But the Illinois Democrat who would be the nation’s first African-American president has more recently joined with Clinton in seeking to dispel the rancorous feud over race. 

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