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Former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush Karl Rove spoke at Randolph College Jan. 26 about President Barack Obama, the upcoming election and his years of experience in politics.
Nicknamed “The Architect” for his role in designing both of Bush’s presidential campaigns, Rove said the current Republican primaries have been “weird” with six lead changes by four different candidates.
“Part of the reason this has been so erratic is we’ve had 17 debates with the 18th tonight,” he told a crowded Smith Hall Theater. “It’s kept people interested in the contest. I mean, think about it — nearly 8 million people saw the debate last Monday.”
Rove compared Obama to former President Jimmy Carter and discussed the possibility of a similar one-term presidency. According to Rove, Obama will try to frame his administration as a creator of jobs, energy independence and strong foreign policy with the end of the War in Iraq and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Healthcare is one of Obama’s main weaknesses, Rove said. The president is the first Democrat in the 75 years of Gallup polling to have a negative rating on healthcare.
“The problem is it ain’t very popular,” Rove said. “In fact, if any of you have the idea of getting a PhD in political science, here’s your thesis — the Healthcare Plan is the first piece of major legislation to become less popular after it passed.”
Other significant concerns for the president are unemployment, spending and scandals like Solyndra and the recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) report of tax fraud by White House aides, according to Rove.
The IRS report revealed that 36 members of Obama’s staff owe a collective $834,000 in back taxes, he said. The report came right after the president’s State of the Union address in which he called for the wealthiest Americans to “pay their fair share” of taxes.
“In fairness, the president ought to take each one of them in and ask, ‘When are you gonna pay your taxes?’” Rove said.
Rove cautioned attendees to be respectful of the president, however, and careful of the way they portray him.
“The most powerful indictment to use against someone is their own words, and this guy has plenty to use against him,” Rove said.
The election will be a battle for both parties, but Rove pointed out that the 2010 census rearranged some of the electoral votes. Some votes from states that have traditionally supported Democratic candidates have since been reallocated to typically Republican states.
Rove expects several states that the president won in 2012 to change sides as well.
“He’s in bad shape in Nebraska,” Rove said. “Just trust me — he ain’t gonna win it again.”
Regardless of the challenges facing the president in 2012, Rove is calling for another tight race.
“It’s gonna be a heck of an election to watch because it’s very much up for grabs,” he said.