Karl Rove, George Mitchell butt heads

October 21, 2008 9:14:56 PM PDT
Politics briefly overshadowed the economy in San Francisco Tuesday when former Bush strategist Karl Rove and retired Democratic Sen. George Mitchell mixed it up at the Mortgage Brokers Association convention.

Asked if Americans should be concerned with Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's ties to Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Karl Rove went off on all three.

"What troubles me is the relationships, we've been misled about everyone of them, we were misled about Reverend Wright," Rove said.

The American people are not moved by those arguments, Mitchell said.

"And I think it's no coincidence that over the past three or four weeks, as this has become a central part of the campaign against Sen. Obama, he's gained in the polls," Mitchell said.

Rove then accused the Democrats of negative campaigning, when Congressman John Lewis compared Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and running mate Gov. Sarah Palin to George Wallace or when Sen. John Kerry told a joke about McCain's underwear.

Rove: Your nominee of your party in 2004 stands up and says 'if John McCain was asked the question of whether he wore boxers or briefs his answer would be Depends;' I think that's pretty much under the table and pretty nasty.

Mitchell: Well, I have to say, I feel like Dorothy in the Land of Oz hearing you lecture about negative campaigns by others.

Mitchell also mentioned South Carolina and the 2000 primary race between George W. Bush and McCain, which led to the most heated exchange of the day.

Rove: What do you think I did in South Carolina, Senator? Are you just going to smear me here or do you want to share with everybody what you think?

Mitchell: No, I think it's been well publicized.

Rove: No, Senator, come on, I want to hear it from you; you can't hit and run, Senator, with all due respect.

The exchange continued.

Rove: What exactly did I do in South Carolina? Would you like to share with people?

Mitchell: Is there anybody in this audience that is not familiar with the South Carolina campaign?

Rove: Just say it, Senator, just say it.

Mitchell: I think you're pretty sensitive; I think it touched a nerve, Karl, I think it touched a nerve.

Rove denied any involvement in smearing McCain.

But Rove and Mitchell going head to head was not the only drama of the day. Three times members of Code Pink interrupted the panel.

At the start, Janine Bonaparth tried to handcuff Rove; she said she was trying to arrest him for treason. The disruptions continued and in all, five women were escorted from the building.

Rove and Mitchell continued to argue over who was most responsible for the current economic crisis and whether or not America's standing in the world has been diminished by the Bush administration.

Before the panel began, ABC7 asked Rove about McCain's pick of Palin as his running mate in light of Gen. Colin Powell's recent endorsement of Obama and comments that Palin was not ready for the job.

"She's been a big plus for [McCain], she immediately showed a big bump in support among women and she's been a person who's enthused a lot of people inside and outside of the Republican Party," Rove said.

Powell's endorsement was not just because of Palin; Powell also criticized McCain's reaction to the economic crisis.

Related Video:
ABC7 EXTRA: Karl Rove in SF on the Palin nod and Powell's endorsement of Obama.
ABC7 EXTRA: Karl Rove and George Mitchell on who to blame for the financial crisis.
ABC7 EXTRA: Karl Rove and George Mitchell on negative campaigning.


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