Live-blogging Rove in N.H. As originally appearing in Boston.com
By Glen Johnson, Globe Staff
BEDFORD, N.H. – Former Bush political adviser Karl Rove visited New Hampshire today, the scene of one of the greatest losses in his otherwise winning career, to talk politics.
9:41 a.m. – Final, final question, how do you see wars playing out in Republican primary?
“The American people have soured on the war in Afghanistan,” but the US has to stay, said Rove.
He praises President Obama for copying former President Bush with a surge strategy, but “we would be making a mistake to prematurely withdraw,” said Rove.
Rove doesn’t expect the war to be an issue in the 2012 GOP primaries, and only in the general election if the public perceives that Obama has withdrawn prematurely.
9:40 a.m. – Final two questions are about economic issues.
9:33 a.m. – Fifth question: Is the field set, and is it too late for someone like the current governor of Texas, Rick Perry.
Rove said something to the effect of, we’re getting to the point where it is late for people to get in who have not been doing the ground work.
He said it’s not clear whether Perry is at that point.
“I understand, it’s human nature; you want the candidate to come here and ask you before they become a formal candidate,” said Rove.
As to whether that presents a problem for “for somebody who jumps in in July,” Rove says, “I think it does.”
9:32 a.m. – Fourth question: Will anybody debate education?
Rove says yes, but the issues will be clustered around the economy.
9:31 a.m. – The third questioner asks if there is a plan to put forward cogent information about the health care plan at “an eighth-grade level.”
Rove says that is what he tries to do in his weekly Wall Street Journal column, and what the 2012 campaign will be all about.
9:28 a.m. – An AARP person stood up, noting there is a debate in New Hampshire on Monday night.
How can the debate stay positive, he said.
Rove said the voters have a responsibility to hold the candidates accountable if they attack a fellow Republican and not the Democratic Party.
9:26 a.m. – First question is about health care, and how to stop it.
“I think we get to the point of no return in 2014. You can always undo these rules,” Karl Rove said.
9:25 a.m. – Karl Rove is now taking questions.
9:19 a.m. – Karl Rove is telling apocalyptic stories about doctors ending their practices, and companies big and small planning to drop coverage and pay fines instead, because they disagree with the health care law.
“This bill is financed in a way that makes Bernie Madoff pale in comparison,” he said.
“This is a fraud,” Rove added.
9:15 a.m. – Karl Rove also says the health care bill is being opposed because premium costs haven’t gone down as projected, and doctors don’t like it because of increased rulemaking.
“This bill, if you like what you got, you can keep it,” he said.
9:10 a.m. – Karl Rove predicts the federal health care overhaul will also be a big issue in the 2012 presidential election because Americans were turned off both by the substance of it and the process of enacting it.
Rove said the numerous Americans who work in health care don’t like the bill, “and they’re talking.”
9:05 a.m. – Karl Rove criticizes stimulus bill for smoking cessation and other programs not directly related to job creation.
“This was a poorly designed measure and it’s failed to work,” he said.
He notes no president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been re-elected with an unemployment rate over 7.2 percent.
It’s currently over 9 percent.
Rove says Obama also has a spending and a deficit problem. He says the president is wrong for proposing to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling without concurrent spending cuts.
While Rove predicts the ceiling will ultimately be increased, Obama will do so against the will of the American people.
9 a.m. – Karl Rove said President Obama wasn’t elected in 2008 because he was qualified; rather, he seemed younger, more in touch, or proposing more bipartisanship than Republican nominee John McCain.
Once in office, Rove says, he “overpromised and under-delivered” on the economy.
Unemployment is worse than projected. The recovery, he said, should be steep.
“We went in steeply but we’re coming out anemically,” he said.
At the same time, consumer costs are soaring.
8:55 a.m. – Karl Rove said New Hampshirites love to pepper candidates with questions, while Iowans love to hear them deliver a speech.
In South Carolina, meanwhile, there are “tribes” across the state that require a candidate to make their case to the chiefs.
“It’s a weird process,” Rove said.
Nonetheless, he said the nomination is worth having because President Obama is vulnerable.
He said when an incumbent is stuck around 50 percent in polls with opponents who are not that well known, he is at risk for losing.
8:49 a.m. – Karl Rove starts with a joke, after New England Council President James Brett noted his winning campaign streak.
Rove replied that Bush lost New Hampshire in 2000 by “19-friggin’ points.”
He said he is in the state between a speech in Boston and a two-day visit to former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine.
He jumped right into substance, saying the GOP presidential race is “wide open” and early primary and caucus states are pivotal for that reason.
8:45 a.m. – Dallas Morning News political writer Wayne Slater branded Rove “Bush’s Brain,” and wrote a book with that title, a description that engendered some consternation for former President Bush.
He is now being introduced by New England Council President James Brett.
8:38 a.m. – Karl Rove just came up and renewed his acquaintance with your correspondent, who spent much of the 2000 campaign on a bus and airplane with him.
Then he sat down and had his breakfast served to him by Joel Maiola, the longtime chief of staff to former Senator Judd Gregg.
The hospitality prompted laughter at the head table.
8:25 a.m. – New England Council President James Brett, a former state representative from Dorchester, just asked everyone to sit and eat.
The meal at “Politics & Eggs”? Bacon – and scrambled eggs.
8:13 a.m. – Karl Rove is still in a side room, taking pictures with all attendees in front of a “Politics & Eggs” banner. Some attendees have brought copies of Rove’s books for him to sign.
He is slated to speak about 8:30 a.m., despite a supposed 8 a.m. event start time.
7:51 a.m. – Karl Rove is appearing this morning at the famous “Politics & Eggs” series put on by the New England Council and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
The appearance brings him to the Bedford Village Inn, not far from the Residence Inn where Rove, George W. Bush, and the rest of the senior staff on the then-Texas governor’s presidential campaign stayed during the 2000 New Hampshire primary.
The team pulled into town in January 2000 after winning the Iowa caucuses, but then Bush lost the primary by a stunning 19-points to Arizona Senator John McCain.
The loss prompted a vicious counterattack by Bush in South Carolina, a tactical decision by Rove and other campaign leaders credited with ultimately winning them the GOP presidential nomination.
Rove’s appearance comes at a yeasty political time.
The entire senior staff of Newt Gingrich’s campaign quit yesterday, he and most of the other Republican presidential contenders are slated to debate in New Hampshire on Monday night.
Meanwhile, Democrats nationally are trying to determine how to minimize the fallout from the Twitter/Facebook sex scandal involving US Representative Anthony Weiner of New York.
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