Highly respected political analyst Karl Rove tells Newsmax that Republicans stand a 55 percent chance of regaining the White House in 2012 but warns that President Barack Obama’s “hard-nosed Chicago pols” will run a vicious campaign to smear the GOP nominee.
In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with Newsmax.TV, Rove says the president has “walked out on his daytime job” to focus exclusively on re-election, predicts Obama won’t jettison Vice President Joe Biden in 2012, and doubts that a third-party candidate will emerge in the presidential race.
The 2012 race will be the toughest the GOP has seen, Rove warned, adding that Obama’s Chicago-run operation “is going to take the Republican nominee and subject him or her to the worst beating of their life, every day for roughly 11 months.”
Rove has been called the architect of George W. Bush’s successful presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004 and served as senior adviser and deputy chief of staff in the Bush White House. He is now a Fox News contributor, and his American Crossroads organization is a leading force in raising funds for Republican causes.
During the interview, Rove was asked whether it is surprising that Obama did not get more actively involved in the deficit reduction efforts before supercommittee negotiations collapsed.
“If you step back and look at the arch of the past year, you wouldn’t be surprised at all because this president basically has walked out of his daytime job – being the commander in chief and chief executive of the country – and has devoted, essentially since last December, all of his energies and efforts toward his re-election,” Rove says.
“I think he made a political decision that there was no upside for him to be involved in coming to an agreement on spending cuts, and a lot of advantage to being disengaged in the process so he can be criticizing a ‘do-nothing’ Congress.
“However, I think he made a fundamental mistake. If he had gotten involved and achieved $1.2 trillion in real savings, it would have fired up the markets, given confidence that America is tackling its economic challenges and particularly its entitlement challenges, and would have put him in a better place for his re-election.”
Referring to Obama’s “imperial presidency,” Rove says that, “if the Bush administration had tried to appoint czars and attempted to govern by executive order, if we had been as callous in our treatment of Congress as this guy is, they would have run us out of town.
“It’s amazing how diffident and arrogant and aloof this guy has governed.
“This president’s attitude has been, ‘I don’t need to deal with the Republicans.’ And if you don’t compromise, if you don’t have presidential leadership that says let’s try to arrive at something, you’re very rarely going to arrive at something. And that’s where we are because of this president’s lack of leadership.”
Rove dealt with then-Sen. Obama while serving in the White House and found that he doesn’t consider himself a “mere mortal.”
Asked about the odds of Obama’s winning re-election in 2012, Rove responds: “If you look at the economy and his approval rating and how people judge him on the handling of the economy and the deficit, if you look at people’s attitudes toward Obamacare, he’s in terrible shape.
“On the other hand, he’s completely focused on one thing and one thing only: getting himself re-elected. He’s willing to say and do anything in order to get re-elected, and his campaign is directed by a group of very tough, smart, savvy, hard-nosed Chicago pols. They’re going to take the Republican nominee and subject him or her to the worst beating of their life every day for roughly 11 months.
“At the end of that process we’ll see. I’d say it’s 55 percent that he doesn’t get re-elected, 45 percent that he might, and it’s going to be a very close-run thing.
“I do think there’s a pathway to victory [for the Republicans]: First win every state that McCain won, and that closes the Electoral College vote by 11 votes because states like Texas, South Carolina, Georgia and Utah picked up votes while states like New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts lost votes.
“But then you’ve got to win Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Virginia, and then any other state, and that wins it for the Republican nominee. It’s going to be a tough election.”
As for which GOP candidate has the best chance of beating Obama, Rove tells Newsmax: “I don’t think we know just yet. Four years ago the candidate who looked like he was in the best position for the general election and the primaries was Rudy Giuliani, whose hopes didn’t survive the first cold night in Iowa on Jan. 3.
“So we don’t know. That’s what we have these elections about, and I suspect in the next 30 some-odd days left before the vote in Iowa we’re going to learn a lot about the capacity of these people to run a strong, effective campaign.”
Analyzing the major Republican candidates, Rove observes:
- Mitt Romney can win over the conservative base because the right is going to be “wired up” about defeating President Obama at all costs.
- Newt Gingrich mania “is real, but the question is how focused and disciplined is he going to be with his message as the primaries approach.” Rove believes Gingrich’s stance on immigration will cause him problems in Iowa.
- Michele Bachmann was a star early on, but her star has faded. Her only shot to get back in the race as a serious contender is to finish in the top three or a very close fourth in Iowa.
- Herman Cain has “risen and fallen. He hasn’t been able to perform in debates as well as others.” Sexual harassment allegations are not the worst thing to damage his candidacy, compared with several major gaffes in the campaign, but Rove concedes that Cain did not deal with the allegations well.
- Rick Perry will have trouble making a comeback after a series of poor debate performances, but a comeback is not impossible due to his fund-raising successes.
- Ron Paul has an enthusiastic base but his views on international affairs and defense are outside the mainstream of the Republican Party, and Rove doesn’t see any chance of winning the nomination.
Rove doesn’t believe a third-party candidate will emerge in the race.
Rove does commend Obama for acting against what he said in his campaign regarding the war on terror, including keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open, providing for military tribunals for terror suspects, and continuing the drone campaign against insurgents. But he faults the administration for a lack of engagement in the Arab Spring.
He dismisses speculation that Obama will replace Vice President Biden with Hillary Clinton on the 2012 ticket.
Rove also says Republicans have a good chance of achieving the net pickup of four seats they need to take control of Senate.
And he declares that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are a group of “nuts and lunatics” infected with “anti-Semitism and hostility to America and anti-capitalism.”