Republican strategist Karl Rove on Friday slammed Democrats as hypocrites for criticizing his questioning of Hillary Clinton’s health when they have been attacking GOP presidential candidates on similar issues for years.
“The Clintons are now saying how dare you bring up health and age, and they were doing it with abandon in 1996,” Rove told conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, according to a transcript of Friday’s program.
Rove, according to news reports this week, said that Clinton may have sustained brain damage after she fell in her Washington home while serving as secretary of state in 2012 and suffered a concussion.
He later said that his words were misinterpreted and that her health is just as important a topic as that of any presidential candidate. Clinton is considering at White House run in 2016.
In his Hewitt interview, Rove noted that during President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996, the Democrats ran television ads featuring the GOP presidential candidate, Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, 73, “looking about as old as he possibly could look.”
Dole was pictured with then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rove added. Then an announcer in the spot says: “Their old ways don’t work. President Clinton’s plan — the new way.”
In another case, White House counsel Jack Quinn “pointedly described a Dole speech that year as ‘tired, old, worn-out rhetoric,'” Rove said.
He also highlighted a report in The New York Times in which the deputy campaign manager of the Clinton campaign, Ann Lewis, “implies feebleness when she ridicules remarks by [Dole] as disconnected and dysfunctional.”
The Times report described such Democratic inferences as “the old-guy bashing” of Dole during the campaign.
Rove also pointed out that in 2008, Jay Carney, the White House spokesman who then was Washington bureau chief for Time magazine, wrote an article “attacking John McCain for not having the best relations with strong conservatives inside the Republican Party.”
McCain, the Arizona senator, was the GOP presidential candidate that year, squaring off against Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. At the time, McCain was 71 versus Obama’s 47.
Rove recalled the title of article for Hewitt: “McCain: Frail With the Right Wing. Frail? Get it?”
Carney also attacked Rove for his Clinton comments this week.
He added that the McCain campaign “came unglued” over the Time cover that week, “because they thought it was deliberately designed to make McCain look really old.”
In addition, Rove reiterated that he did not think that the Clintons were hiding anything about Hillary Clinton’s health but that the criticism lobbed at him since “has simply drawn more and more attention to it, and caused people to say, ‘Well, what are they hiding?’
“I don’t think they’re hiding anything,” he added. “I just think there’s a natural reticence on the part of the Clintons.”
The GOP strategist also said that the response from a Clinton spokesman to the initial reports of his comments was the best: “Please assure Dr. Rove she’s 100 percent.”
“I thought it was the best line,” he said.