The Romneys clung to the belief that they could still win Ohio — and the White House — late into election night, even though exit polls across the country showed they were toast, as public polls had shown the week before. Karl Rove, too, refused to believe Ohio was lost, even after Fox News' own decision desk called the state for President Obama. Whose fault is that? The old story, reported right after the election, was that Rove was relaying the concerns of the Romney campaign on-air that night. But on Thursday, Ann Romney gave her first solo post-election interview to CBS This Morning, and she said it was Rove who'd been calling them that night, reassuring the Romneys they could still win. "About 6 o'clock we started getting a little worried," Romney said. "Exit polls weren't terrific and at about 8 o'clock the panic button was pressed." But a flicker of hope remained, she said, because of a certain Fox pundit.
Gayle King: Even that night weren't people still saying, 'Hang in there, hang in there, it's not over yet'?"
King: Who was saying that?
Romney: Karl Rove.
King: What'd he say?
Romney: He's like, 'Don't give up, don't give up. We're gonna win Ohio. And, you know, it's gonna turn around.' And things just didn't follow the way we thought it was going to happen."
After the election, Rove's spokesperson told New York, "Karl was in touch with the Romney people after he and Joe Trippi became concerned the call might be premature... It was then he found the Ohio Secretary of State website had roughly 7 percent more of the vote in and the two candidates separated first by 1,995 votes and then by 911." Romney's panic-button timeline suggests they were in touch earlier. Either way, it's a remarkably close relationship between a Fox News analyst and a presidential campaign.
Here's video of said timeline:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.