On Fox News Sunday, Karl Rove asserted of Sen. Barack Obama facing questions about the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan: "Now, having ties to Louis Farrakhan and his anti-Semitic comments, that's -- that's -- you know, people have a reason -- that's a reasonable question: Do you agree with him? Do you renounce him? Do you reject him?" In fact, Obama has denied that his campaign has "ties to" Farrakhan and has answered the questions posed by Rove, having repeatedly denounced Farrakhan's anti-Semitic statements.
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On the March 2 edition of Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor and former White House senior political adviser Karl Rove asserted of Sen. Barack Obama facing questions about Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan: "Now, having ties to Louis Farrakhan and his anti-Semitic comments, that's -- that's -- you know, people have a reason -- that's a reasonable question: Do you agree with him? Do you renounce him? Do you reject him?" However, neither Rove nor host Chris Wallace noted that Obama has denied that his campaign has "ties to" Farrakhan or that he has answered the questions posed by Rove, having repeatedly and consistently denounced Farrakhan's anti-Semitic statements. Indeed, during the February 26 Democratic primary debate, Obama began his first answer on the subject of Farrakhan by saying: "You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support." Obama added "we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan." Obama also said during questioning about Farrakhan in the debate: "There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. But if the word 'reject' Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word 'denounce,' then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce."
Later in the program, Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume said, referring to the debate, that "Obama was then -- was asked to either accept or reject the endorsement of this man who said such hateful things. And after some dispute between him and Clinton, he said he denounced his racial comments." In fact, Obama's statements that "I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments" and that "I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible" came before Clinton spoke on the subject. Additionally, Obama denounced Farrakhan's anti-Semitism in January when Trumpet Newsmagazine, a publication founded by Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, where Obama is a parishioner, awarded Farrakhan the "Lifetime Achievement 'Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Trumpeter Award'." Obama issued a statement in which he said: "I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree."
Obama also said during a February 24 speech just two days before the debate, "I have been a consistent, before I go any further, a consistent denunciator of Louis Farrakhan, nobody challenges that."
From the March 2 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: We're running out of time, I want to hit a couple of last final points quickly. A speaker at a McCain rally this week talked about, repeatedly, "Barack Hussein Obama." The Tennessee Republican Party talks about support for Obama from anti-Semites and anti-Israel people. I know McCain has denounced this; you're shaking your head. But if you don't have your fingerprints on it, is this kind of talk out in the bloodstream of the American politics helpful?
ROVE: Look, the Hussein -- using his middle name helps Obama, it doesn't hurt him. So anybody who wants to help John McCain ought to stop using --
WALLACE: Explain that.
ROVE: Well, because I think people look at it and say, "Hey, look, that's one step too far. You're trying to leave an implication that he is a Muslim when I know he's not." And I think it -- you know, a lot of times attacks in politics fail -- in fact, they turn into a negative for the person who's doing the attacking because people think it's gone too far. And this, frankly, goes too far. Now, having ties to Louis Farrakhan and his anti-Semitic comments, that's -- that's -- you know, people have a reason -- that's a reasonable question: Do you agree with him? Do you renounce him? Do you reject him? But this idea of getting up there and using the guy's middle name in order to imply something about him is -- it goes too far.
WILLIAM KRISTOL (Weekly Standard editor): It is fair to raise the question of what Obama's position on Israel is compared to Senator McCain's. It is fair to say that Obama is, for example -- has defended racial preferences. That's a legitimate issue going forward in this campaign. He intervened in a Michigan referendum in 2006 and defended affirmative action. Fine, that's a legitimate position. McCain has a somewhat different position. They should debate it. I do think the Obama campaign is going to try and make it hard to run the kind of campaign [panelist and NPR national correspondent] Mara [Liasson] is talking about. A more ideological campaign where one makes the legitimate point that Obama is a pretty liberal Democrat.
JUAN WILLIAMS (NPR senior correspondent): Well, I think that a lot of this has a racial base to it and it has to do with racial code, and it goes back to arguments about Farrakhan and Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who is Obama's minister, and his embrace of Farrakhan, and what we saw in the debate last week where Obama had to say to Clinton, after she came back, you know, "I not only renounce, I reject."
WALLACE: Yeah, but it wasn't because Farrakhan is an African-American. It's because Farrakhan has said hateful things.
WILLIAMS: Correct. And -- but the idea that somehow, then, that Barack Obama has to take responsibility for everything that Louis Farrakhan said is ridiculous. It's unfair. And somehow saying, "He's black, and he's black, and therefore they think alike," that's not fair.
HUME: Now, wait a minute, Juan, wait a minute. That's -- that doesn't state the facts correctly. What happened is that Farrakhan came out and endorsed Obama --
HUME: -- having said all these things. Obama was then -- was asked to either accept or reject the endorsement of this man who said such hateful things. And after some dispute between him and Clinton, he said he denounced his racial comments, but he never rejected the support, and he was pressed to do that, which he finally did. I don't think race really entered into the equation there.
WILLIAMS: I think you missed the whole story, because I think it was all about the whole idea that he was rej -- saying, you know what, Louis Farrakhan never offered to do anything for me. He simply said he supports my campaign, but he's not involved in his campaign. He's certainly not an adviser to his campaign.