George Stephanopoulos adopted the "guilty until proven innocent" style of questioning on Tuesday and pressed strategist Karl Rove to prove that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups aren't receiving foreign money– a charge there's no evidence for.
Stephanopoulos teased, "And dirty money? President Obama and Joe Biden accuse Karl Rove of trying to buy this year's election. Is foreign money really influencing elections?" In a previous segment, reporter Jake Tapper pointed out, "And so far, this strong charge is completely unproven. But the White House response to the chamber, prove it."
Yet, Stephanopoulos picked up the administration's talking points in an interview with Rove. The host played a clip of Joe Biden demanding that the ex-Bush aide defend his group, American Crossroads against the foreign money charge. Stephanopoulos followed up: "Ready to take up the challenge?"
Hitting the claim again and again, Stephanopoulos berated, "Am I right to assume that the short answer to my question to the challenge from Vice President Biden is no?"
One more time, he complained, "But can you guarantee that none of the money, none of the funding going to the groups that you support, that you're raising money for, comes from foreign entities?"
On the issue of disclosing donors, Stephanopoulos had no answer to this retort by Rove:
KARL ROVE: President Obama based his attack on a blog posting by Think Progress, which is associated with the Center for American Progress. A group headed by John Podesta, who was the chairman of the President's transition. It is a political group and does not reveal its donors. The President didn't s anything about the League of Conservation Votes, which does not reveal its donors and make political ads. The National Resources Defense Council, which runs ads through its action fund, does not reveal its donors.
In the previous segment featuring Tapper, the reporter suggested to the White House's David Axelrod: "You're asking the Chamber to prove a negative. Prove that you're not doing such and such accusation." Stephanopoulos ignored this obvious point.
Obviously, Democrats are trying to force the debate away from the economy and big government and on to side issue. Journalists in the media are willingly promoting this theme.
A transcript of the October 12 segment, which aired at 7:10am EDT, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get now to the man the White House is calling out. He's Karl Rove. Worked for President George W. Bush. Now, a Fox News contributor. He joins us this morning from Austin, Texas. Good morning, Mr. Rove.
ABC GRAPHIC: Obama/Biden vs. Rove: Taking on Foreign Money
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, George. How are you?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm doing well. Thank you. You heard the President in that speech there. You saw Jake's piece. He's not alone. Vice President Biden, just outside of Scranton yesterday, had a message for you personally. Look.
JOE BIDEN: I challenge Karl Rove to tell me that this money isn't coming from billionaires and millionaires, insurers, companies, oil companies, major executives, who have about as much in common and concern with the people of north east Pennsylvania as I don't know what.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ready to take up the challenge?
ROVE: You know, it's interesting. President Obama based his attack on a blog posting by Think Progress, which is associated with the Center for American Progress. A group headed by John Podesta, who was the chairman of the President's transition. It is a political group and does not reveal its donors. The President didn't s anything about the League of Conservation Votes, which does not reveal its donors and make political ads. The National Resources Defense Council, which runs ads through its action fund, does not reveal its donors. The President's own campaign refused to reveal the names of donors that contributed tens of millions of dollars to his effort. So, for the President of the United States to say a legal and lawful action by a private group, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States, you know, when he himself has relied upon political groups. There's $400 million worth of advertising and campaign activity in 2004, 20008 on his behalf, from groups that mostly did not disclose their donors. And as you say- As you say-
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just go on. The Democrats say they tried to push through a bill that would require disclosure. David Axelrod said they would be happy to have everyone disclose. Am I right to assume that the short answer to my question to the challenge from Vice President Biden is no?
ROVE: Look, the President is being hypocritical about this. He had no problem at all with this when groups were spending money on his behalf in 2008 and not disclosing donors. He had no problem at all not disclosing his own donors. Tens of millions of dollars in contributions to his campaign that did not- that his donor- donor names were not revealed. And now, he turns around because Republicans have taken up and started doing the same thing that Democrats have been doing for years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you-
ROVE: Look, in 2000, the NAACP ran $10 million they say they received from one anonymous donor. And an ad that saying that George W. Bush was insensitive about a racial, a brutal, racial murder in Texas. And, nobody, nobody was ever was concerned about this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're, you're saying the President is being hypocritical. I hear that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But can you guarantee that none of the money, none of the funding going to the groups that you support, that you're raising money for, comes from foreign entities?
ROVE: We do not solicit foreign entities. And we tell people that we will not accept foreign money. And that it is illegal since 1907, for foreign money to be involved in American political campaigns. We have it on our materials that no foreign money can or will be received. And let me just tell you, all the area codes I'm dialing are inside the United States. Also, I love it. The President of the United States says I'm funding these groups, as if I'm some billionaire like George Soros, writing checks. I wish I had the ability to write a very large check.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You are raising money for them. You admit that.
ROVE: I'd be writing them myself. Absolutely. No doubt about it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's take a look at where things stand now. You know, when Christine O'Donnell won the Delaware primary a few weeks ago, you made a lot of headlines by suggesting, you thought it would cost Republicans seats, pickups in the Senate. Where do you think things stand right now? Do you believe Republicans can win control of the Senate?
ROVE: They can. I think it depends upon- I think you had a pretty good outline of it. Republicans are likely to keep all of the five seats were thought at jeopardy on their side of the aisle at the beginning. There's three Democrat seats in the Republican column. I think the Republicans are likely to take all six of the tossups. And then that comes down to do the Republicans win a seat in California, Washington state, Connecticut or Delaware? And I think the best of those shots is Washington State. California is a good one. Connecticut's a good one. Delaware, Delaware right now, we're trailing. But the fact of the matter is, look, George. We're talking about Republicans being able to win. We're realistically thinking about Republicans being able to win half the Democratic seats that are up for election this year. 19 Are up. Republicans are likely to take seven or eight or nine. And could conceivably take 10 of the 19 seats.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. That is all the time we have for today.