Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Karl Rove talks political strategy at Randolph College

“The issue in this election is going to be who has the most credible plan for getting the economy going,” Karl Rove, Republican political strategist, told a Randolph College audience on Thursday. “It’s going to be one heck of a general election to watch because it is very much up for grabs.”

Rove, who served as senior adviser to President George W. Bush, visited Randolph College for a day and spent time talking with local media, students, faculty, staff, and community members. He analyzed the Republican Primary race and discussed factors that will affect the general election. He taught students about the reasoning behind political strategy and made a few predictions, too.

Here are some topics he addressed:

Virginia’s importance in the general election:

“I don't see how the republican candidate is going to get 270 Electoral College votes without bringing Virginia back into the republican column,” Rove said. The state has usually cast its electoral votes for Republican presidential candidates, but President Obama won the state in 2008.

Rove said Virginia will become a battleground in the general election, meaning Randolph College students could witness some heavy campaigning. He named Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell as one wise vice president pick for the eventual Republican nominee.

Vice Presidential Picks

Rove listed several Republican leaders who he thinks would be good vice presidential running mates for any of the Republican presidential hopefuls, including Marco Rubio, Mitch Daniels, and McDonnell.

Rove then explained the George W. Bush’s selection of Dick Cheyney as his running mate. Rove tried to talk him out of it, he said.

At Bush’s request, Rove recited a long list of problems that would arise from choosing Cheyney, including public scrutiny about Cheyney’s health and criticism that Bush was leaning on his father’s reputation and administration.

Bush called him the next day with his response: “You’re right, every one of them is a problem,” Bush said. “Now go solve them.”

Religion in Politics:

“We are a nation that is very religious, compared to other nations in the world,” Rove said. “I think Americans generally want a person of faith, who believes in a greater being.”

However, Rove believes it is offensive to pick apart the details of a candidate’s religious beliefs. Particularly, he said media coverage Mitt Romney’s race for the nomination has focused too much on dissecting the details of Romney’s Mormon theology, he said.

“I think it has no place in American politics,” he said.

Tax rates:

Rove defended the capital gains tax rate of 15 percent because capital gains paid to investors have already been taxed at the corporate tax rate. The lower tax rates encourage saving and investing to create jobs, he said. He also pointed out that the Bush tax cuts, which have been extended during President Obama’s administration, lowered tax rates for all income earners, not just the wealthy.

People who create new products and services deserve to keep the fruits of their labors, he said. He specifically mentioned Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for their technological innovations. “The country’s better because they did that. Because they had the courage and the dream to go do it, they deserve their reward. That’s what the essence of the American system is about,” Rove said.