POLITICS
08/13/2008 07:58 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Rove Doesn't Deny Involvement in Siegelman Case, Dismisses Role In GOP Decline (VIDEO)

Former Bush chief strategist Karl Rove deliberately declined to deny his involvement in the controversial prosecution of Don Siegelman, the former Alabama Governor whose arrest on grounds of corruption appeared politically motivated.

In an at times dismissive interview with ABC's "This Week" Rove said that he would not respond to a subpoena by the House Judiciary Committee imploring his testimony in the Siegelman case. Asked if he had ever made contact with the Justice Department, the man known as Bush's brain said:

"I read about -- I'm going to simply say what I've said before, which is I found out about Don Siegelman's investigation and indictment by reading it in the newspaper."

"But that's not a denial," said the host George Stephanopoulos.

"I've -- you know, I read - I heard about it, read about it, learned about it for the first time by reading about it in the newspaper," Rove replied.

Siegelman was sentenced to more than seven years in prison in 2006 under a bribery conviction. But his case had heavy hints of political motivation. Recently, a Republican campaign volunteer issued sworn testimony that she overheard a phone conversation suggesting Rove was linked to his case.

Rove's refusal to explicitly deny an involvement in the Siegelman affair was not his only newsworthy moment Sunday. Earlier in the interview, he denied that he was serving as an "informal adviser" to Sen. John McCain, saying, simply, that he and the candidate exchanged "chit chat."

Later, he was asked to explain why his vision for an "endurable" Republican majority - a political game plan that he helped put in place following George Bush's election in 2000 - had sputtered so miserably. Acknowledging that the GOP was "in a bad place today," Rove nevertheless refused to bear any burden for the party's woes, chalking it up to historical cycles and an overeager press hell bent on ginning up scandal.

"Let's go back to 2006 for just a minute since this was your jumping off point. Remember, this is an average off-year election. If you look at the second midterm elections of presidents, the White House party loses an average of 29 seats in the house and five seats in the senate. We lost 30 in the house and six in the senate. And we lost them by awful slim numbers. Out of over 80 million votes cast in U.S. house races the Republicans... lost by 85,000 votes. We lost control of the Senate by 3,562 votes in Montana. Now, we lost. I don't disagree, we lost. But let's put it in proper context. This was a very narrow defeat. In fact, if you look at it the Democrats were very smart. They ran culturally conservative candidates and accentuated one issue for the house. Scandals... The war, if you take a look at people who voted Republican in '04 who voted Democrat in '06 for congress, the number one issue was scandals."

"You're just not going to look backward, are you?" asked a somewhat flummoxed Stephanopoulos

"Well, look, elections are about the future," Rove replied. "And the answer -- the question -- the answer to your question is what do you do in order to put yourself in a better place in and the way you put yourself in a better place is to talk about the things that got you there in the first place."

[WATCH]

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