On Fox News Sunday this morning, Karl Rove reiterated his false claim that Democrats in Congress — not the Bush administration — forced a war vote prior to the 2002 midterm elections. Despite having being contradicted by former Chief of Staff Andrew Card and former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, Rove continued to press his make-believe story about how the Iraq war vote occurred.
On the Charlie Rose Show a little over a week ago, Rove said that “the administration was opposed to voting on it in the fall of 2002.” This morning, he changed his tune, saying that it is not true that Bush “was the only person” pushing Congress to vote on the war resolution:
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Now you’ve tried to suggest, and revise history here, clearly things have not gone right in Iraq, and you have tried to revise history and suggest that the Congress got ahead of the President on the Iraq war resolution.
KARL ROVE: No, that’s not what I said. What I said was that the general conventional wisdom was that the President was the only person pushing the Congress to vote on the war resolution before the November election, and that’s simply not true.
Rove then cherry-picked old quotes from former Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) that he claims support his point. Watch it:
None of the quotes that Rove used suggested Daschle was desperately trying to force a war authorization vote. A look back at the events in early Sept. 2002 — just prior to the vote — clearly demonstrates Daschle was interested in delaying the vote:
— “In order to ensure that there isn’t any charge of politicization in such a sensitive international and national matter, I think it is critical that we take great care that timing and all other issues are taken into account,” [Daschle] said. [Roll Call, 9/5/02]
— Majority Leader Tom Daschle, S.D., told reporters Thursday that “we’ve got to be very careful about politicizing a war in Iraq or military efforts.” [Baltimore Sun, 9/10/2002]
— “[Daschle] reiterated his fear that having a vote too close to the Nov. 5 midterm elections could warp the debate. ‘I think that in an election, accusations and doubts are raised about senators’ motives and statements … that could jeopardize a thoughtful and deliberative debate,’ Daschle said.” [CQ, 9/12/02]
Daschle said on September 10, 2002, that he was following the President’s lead regarding congressional action on Iraq:
QUESTION: What will you do if the president insists on a vote on the Iraq resolution before the election?
DASCHLE: Well, I don’t think we have much choice but to respect the decision — the request of any president, including this one. But as I say, I think that’s a deliberative judgment that hopefully will be made in concert and not dictated to the Congress.
Bush was quite clear that he wanted the vote before the election, saying in a September 2002 press conference that “we’ve got to move before the elections.” His spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said, “The President does not think that wait until next year is an answer.”