Karl Rove: Cordoba House Imam’s Role Under Bush No Big Deal, But Obama Plays Politics (VIDEO)

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August 24, 2010 12:45 p.m.

Former top George W. Bush operatives are really distancing themselves from the Bush administration’s relationship with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Karl Rove said last night on Fox News that he wasn’t aware until “recently” that Rauf was sent abroad by Bush’s State Department to talk about the Islamic faith.

Laura Ingraham, filling in for Bill O’Reilly, asked about Rauf “working” for the Bush administration.

“I’m not sure working is the right title,” Rove said, trying to frame Rauf’s role as part of “bureaucratic” State Department decisions that are determined “apolitically.” Rove’s evidence included the fact as a young Republican he was named to a youth delegation during Jimmy Carter’s administration.“Frankly I was unaware until recently that he was sent,” Rove said. He said there is a difference between “being on a delegation of god knows how many people to where in 2003” and being “funded” by the State Department for Rauf’s current trip abroad. Rove also claimed Rauf is fundraising for the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero, even though State officials say that is not allowed.

“The administration was taking sides before they took sides in this,” Rove said. There’s no real way of knowing if what Rove says is accurate, though it is true that the State Department deploys hundreds of people across the globe each year. But it’s important to point out that Rove seems to be suggesting that it was a bureaucratic choice for Bush’s State Department but a calculated one under Obama’s.

We noticed yesterday that Karen Hughes, tasked with Islamic outreach under Bush, didn’t mention that she worked with Rauf in her Washington Post op-ed this weekend saying the Cordoba House project should be moved. Hughes told Greg Sargent at the Post that in her role at the State Department “I met with many Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders and attended numerous events and conferences across the world and it’s entirely possible he was at some of those, but I don’t have specific recollections of that.”

TPM has laid out evidence suggesting that Hughes at least was aware of Rauf, who also was a go-to talking head for television interviews about Islamic issues following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Watch Rove:

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