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Karl Rove refused to accept that Obama won the presidential election on Tuesday night.
Rove, former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, spent a lengthy amount of time on Fox News Channel — which had already called the election — arguing that it was too early to declare a winner.
MSNBC called Ohio — and subsequently the election — for Obama at around 8:15 p.m., followed soon after by Fox.
But not long after that, Fox News’ own Chris Wallace expressed doubts about the call.
“Well, I have great respect for our decision desk, and I can see that they’re very happy in Chicago, but I gotta tell you the Romney camp has real doubts about the call that’s been made by us and, I guess, other networks about Ohio,” Wallace said.
According to Rove, with 26 percent of the vote still left to count, Obama was ahead by about 20,000 votes. But with 23 percent still to count, Obama’s lead narrowed to just 991 votes.
“I’m gonna ask you a straight-out question,” Wallace said to Rove. “You went through this in 2000, you almost went through it in 2004. Do you believe Ohio has been settled?”
“No, I don’t,” said Rove.
Rove argued that there were too many votes not yet accounted for in Ohio, particularly in Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties. He did the math and figured that at least 720,000 were left to account for and that there were only 991 votes separating Romney and Obama when the state — and election — were called.
“This is premature,” he told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier, adding: “Our network called on the basis of about 74 percent of the vote being in.”
After several minutes, Baier and Kelly decided she should take a walk to the decision desk to see how confident the network’s experts were in their call. (Watch video below.)
“We’re actually quite comfortable with the call in Ohio,” one of them told her, adding that the largest outstanding county is Cuyahoga, which he called “Democrat territory.” “There just aren’t enough Republican votes left for Romney to get there.”
But that wasn’t enough to convince Rove, who again began presenting numbers supporting his argument.
“It may be that Obama wins the state, but there seems to be a lot of votes that need to be cast,” he said, adding: “Let more of the votes come in and start to see more of the separation and validate it and not make a very early call. The public perception is that it looks a little odd to be making a call with a 991-vote difference.”
Replied Baier: “They are pretty confident back there Karl, but we will keep going back and forth. I don’t know if we will send Megyn back there again.”
Yet another decision desk expert was then brought into the studio to take part in what the anchors quipped was becoming a “cage match.”
It’s doubtful that Rove was finally convinced, but the whole thing ended after more than a half-hour of airtime, with Rove declaring, “This is not a cage match.”
Added Kelly, with a slight smile: “No, it was a respectful discussion between two brilliant guys.”
Turns out, the Fox decision desk was correct: Obama carried Ohio about 50 percent to 48 percent. (Watch the videos below.)
Meanwhile, Rove wasn’t the only Republican analyst at Fox who seemed a bit despondent over Obama’s victory. When things started looking bad for Romney, contributor Sarah Palin was downright perplexed.
“This really is a catastrophic setback to our economy … what we’ll get in four years is more debt because Barack Obama has been one to believe that government spending is the answer to the challenges facing America,” said the former Republican vp candidate.
“I just cannot believe, though, that the majority of Americans would believe that incurring more debt is good for our economy, for our children’s future, for our job creators,” Palin said. “It’s a perplexing time for many of us.” (Watch the video below.)
Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer, though, attempted to make conservative viewers of Fox feel better about their election-night loss.
“This is not a mandate either in the numbers or in the way that (Obama) campaigned. He did not campaign on any ideas, anything large, anything important,” Krauthammer said.
“That sounds kind of negative, I know, so I think I’ve depressed half the country. So, as a psychiatrist, I will offer to write prescriptions for anybody who needs them right now. Just write me at Fox News.”
Romney, said Krauthammer, is a Northeastern liberal, and that’s not the direction the country is going. He then listed a host of younger Republicans who “are the future” of the party and could win the White House in four years and beyond. (Watch the video below.)
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