"Rove says that Gingrich’s demand for Sotomayor to withdraw is ‘premature,’ calls for a ‘respectful’ debate."
Last night on The O’Reilly Factor, Karl Rove said that it was “premature” for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to call for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor to withdraw from her name from consideration. He then called for Republicans to engage with her “respectfully”:
ROVE: So I think Republicans need to take her on in the appropriate fashion, which is about her judicial philosophy, her record on the court, her writings and her statements. Particularly her statements. But they — and they need to do so with respect. We don’t need to engage with the Democrats did with Alito and Roberts or famously Bork with Ted Kennedy’s Bork’s America speech. They need to do it respectfully. And it needs to be over philosophy. Because Americans of all backgrounds believe that judges ought to be impartial umpires.
Rove, however, has done far more than just “respectfully” criticize Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy and statements. He has said that she is ruled by “emotion,” called her “sort of a schoolmarm,” and questioned her intelligence. Yesterday, Rove also said that he “got wind of” allegations that Sotomayor “was combative, opinionated, argumentative” while reviewing the record of her “colleague on the court” Samuel Alito. However, as Media Matters pointed out, Sotomayor served on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals; Alito served on the 3rd Circuit.
O’REILLY: Let me ask you this question then, because I haven’t been able to talk to the Speaker. We’re hoping to get him on tomorrow. Newt Gingrich is a smart guy. He’s a brilliant guy. And he may run for president next time around. Why would he say, just from a tactical political viewpoint, all right? Why would he say, hey, let’s go after this woman, saying she’s not qualified to serve on the court because of her previous statements about race? Why would he do that?
ROVE: Well, you’re going to have to ask him that. I do think it was maybe premature at least from the perspective of the American people. They’re just getting to know this person. And right now, we’re sort of in the celebrity stage of her introduction to the American people. It’s only through the course of the next several months when they hear such jarring comments like she made at Berkeley that cause people to naturally wince, that their minds might be open to that she’s potentially not qualified.
O’REILLY: Okay, because I’m trying to think of what tactical advantage the Republicans would get from saying to the nation look, this judge is not qualified for the Supreme Court because of her racial outlook. That’s going to be — not going to go over in the Hispanic American community, which as you know better than probably anybody else in this country is necessary for the Republican party to make a comeback.
O’REILLY: They must peel off votes in there.
ROVE: Look. Yeah, look, I do believe it was premature to make that declaration. But on the other hand, let’s be clear about this. When the Democrats went after Miguel Estrada who President Bush nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second highest court of the land, they went after him personally, viciously and consistently. Everybody from Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer.
O’REILLY: But what did I just say in my “Talking Points Memo” about that?
ROVE: But it didn’t hurt him with Hispanics. The media backed him up on it.
O’REILLY: Didn’t hurt, right.
ROVE: But also, remember, it did not hurt them ultimately with the Hispanic community. So I think Republicans need to take her on in the appropriate fashion, which is about her judicial philosophy, her record on the court, her writings and her statements. Particularly her statements. But they — and they need to do so with respect. We don’t need to engage with the Democrats did with Alito and Roberts or famously Bork with Ted Kennedy’s Bork’s America speech. They need to do it respectfully. And it needs to be over philosophy. Because Americans of all backgrounds believe that judges ought to be impartial umpires.
O’REILLY: Okay and I agree with that.