Prominent Republican political strategist Karl Rove talked in Montgomery on
Monday about his work in Alabama elections, about this year's elections and
about the nation's fiscal problems.
Rove, who served as deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to George W. Bush when he was president, spoke at the annual meeting of the Alabama Farmers Federation. Rove was considered the architect of Bush's successful elections in 2000 and 2004. He is also a contributor on Fox News and writes for the Wall Street Journal.
Before rising to national prominence with his work for Bush, Rove was instrumental in Republican politics in Alabama. And he said he worked with people from Alfa on those elections.
In 1994, Rove was hired as a consultant to work on statewide judicial races in Alabama. He said the Alabama Supreme Court was a disaster controlled by trial lawyers. Rove joked that he was brought in because people here thought there was "little or no chance of" Republicans winning so they found "someone stupid from outside the state that does not know" there was not a way for Republicans to win.
But, the Republicans won an upset victory with the election of Perry Hooper Sr. as chief justice.
Hooper was at the speech Monday.
Rove, who like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has a house in south Alabama, said he worked in Alabama elections until he began working in the White House for Bush.
Rove, referencing the Nov. 6 election, said he and Huckabee have "both been suicidal in the last couple of weeks. Now we're merely despondent." He joked that he did have a handkerchief with him in case he needed it while he was talking about the election.
"It was a really strange election," Rove said.
He said President Barack Obama benefited from not having a primary opponent while the GOP primary was "butt ugly."
"That didn't help us," Rove said of the Republican primary.
He said there were too many debates with moderators with an agenda and that, when it became evident former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would be the nominee, the candidate was out of money and exhausted. But, he said, Romney was still a formidable candidate.
Rove said Republicans had a good -- not a great -- national convention. He said the Democrats "had a really good convention" with a really good speech by a president.
"Not President Obama, President Clinton," Rove said.
He talked about critical times in the presidential election, including the monumental first debate. Rove said he was at a dinner event watching it on television and Steve Forbes was there. He said the usually dry Forbes was pumping his fists and that others there could barely contain their excitement with Romney's powerful performance and Obama struggling.
"These guys were so excited," he said and jokingly compared it to watching a football game at a fraternity house.
After that, Rove said the election was a horse race until about 10 days before the election, when he said Romney had a very narrow lead. A number of national polls and national experts, however, indicated Obama was in the lead and likely to win a second term.
Then, Rove said, there was the "October surprise" of Hurricane Sandy.
"This gave a vital moment to President Obama," he said.
Rove said Obama, with that assistance and with attacks on Romney, was able to win, but without the excitement and without the margin he had four years ago.
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