Following the National Journal's "anticipat[ion]" of the "attention" its Vote Ratings will receive "across the 2008 election cycle," on The O'Reilly Factor, Karl Rove presumably referred to the Journal's 2007 ratings when he called Barack Obama "the most liberal member of the United States Senate" -- a rating that counted as "liberal" Obama's votes to implement the 9-11 Commission's homeland security recommendations, provide more children with health insurance, expand federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and maintain a federal minimum wage, and which conflicts with a highly respected study ranking Obama lower.
When the National Journal Group released its 2007 vote ratings -- which ranked Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) the "most liberal Senator in 2007" -- it sent readers a February 5 email proclaiming: "In 2004, President Bush invoked Senator John Kerry's liberal Vote Ratings score repeatedly on the campaign trail and at their head-to-head debates. We anticipate similar attention for our Vote Ratings across the 2008 election cycle." The National Journal Group continues to tout its rating of Kerry from 2004, despite having acknowledged that its methodology at that time was flawed. On the February 11 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, former Bush White House adviser and Fox News contributor Karl Rove gave the "anticipate[d]" attention to the "Vote Ratings," calling Obama "the most liberal member of the United States Senate." Rove added: "If a Republican presidential candidate can't make meat -- you know, mincemeat out of that, I don't know what."
Rove did not cite a source for his claim about Obama -- presumably the National Journal's 2007 vote ratings. Rather, he simply asserted as fact that Obama is the "most liberal senator in 2007." But the National Journal's result differ with those of a highly respected study by political science professors Keith Poole and Jeff Lewis that ranked Obama as tied with Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) as the 10th "most liberal" senator in 2007. Moreover, as Media Matters for America noted, among the votes Obama took that purportedly earned him "the most liberal senator in 2007" label were: to implement the 9-11 Commission's homeland security recommendations, provide more children with health insurance, expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, and maintain a federal minimum wage. Indeed, Obama himself made this point during the February 11 Politico/WJLA forum, when he was asked about the rating:
OBAMA: Well, first of all, not to grouse against the National Journal, but let me give you an example of why I was rated the most liberal was because I wanted an office of public integrity that stood outside of the Senate, and outside of Congress, to make sure that you've got an impartial eye on ethics problems inside of Congress. Now, I didn't know that it was a liberal or Democratic issue. I thought that was a good government issue that a lot of Republicans would like to see. So that's the problem with some of these ratings
how they score things. It uses categories that I think don't make sense to a lot of Americans.
From the February 11 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
BILL O'REILLY (host): Who's the tougher candidate for the Republicans, Obama or [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham Clinton (D-NY)]?
ROVE: You know, you can make a case for each one of them.
O'REILLY: No, but you tell me. You're the guy. You tell me.
ROVE: Well, you know, my gut tells me that over the long haul, Obama is -- look, he is inexperienced and does not have what is needed to be the commander in chief. And he's the most liberal member of the United States Senate. If a Republican presidential candidate can't make meat -- you know, mincemeat out of that, I don't know what.
On the other hand, Clinton has very strong negatives. On the other hand, she has very strong positives. In fact, what's interesting to me is that in the Fox poll, she does better at grabbing -- at keeping Democrats in her column than does Obama. She sees 15 percent of the Democrats sliding over to McCain; he sees 18 percent. And I think that's because there is a weakness among some Democrats who view Obama as not fit to be commander in chief.
O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Rove, nice to have you here at the Fox News Channel. And we'll be speaking to you on a regular basis throughout the campaign. And we appreciate it very much.