For every political aficionado who came to GW to make his or her start, Karl Rove has one piece of advice: Go home.
The former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush turned Republican strategist told a crowd of more than 200 students to enter into politics in their home congressional districts, rather than in D.C.
“The best thing I did was to get out of D.C.,” said Rove, who was on the Foggy Bottom Campus for a discussion with the GW College Republicans Friday night. “If you want to be a senior White House staffer, you have a better chance if you go home.”
During his speech in the Jack Morton Auditorium, Rove also took time to talk about Tuesday night’s midterm elections, which he called “remarkable.” In a historic overhaul, the Republican Party took back 64 seats in the House of Representatives.
“It’s going to be a long time until we see an election like Tuesday,” Rove said.
He said there were various reasons for the sudden shift in power, one reason being that people who had never voted in previous midterm elections cast their ballots this year, motivated by the tea party’s message. He also said Americans are becoming more conservative, citing a poll that showed a nine percent increase in voters identifying as conservative.
“[The midterms were a] rebuke to the president’s policies,” Rove said. “Not the president personally, they kind of like him, but his policies.”
Rove said the Republican victory was largely due to President Barack Obama’s policies, including the stimulus bill and excessive discretionary spending. He also specifically named health care as an issue that drove independents to the Republican side.
“This election means the end of Obama’s liberal agenda,” Rove said. “There is no way he is going to be able to pass his big ideas that he’s passed in the last two years.”
Rove said he doesn’t know if Obama will be re-elected in 2012, but if he is it will be based on the health of the economy. He noted that for Obama to have any chance to produce the economic growth he needs, he will have to work with Republicans over the next two years.
In response to a question about what the College Republicans can do on campus to spread the conservative message, Rove said that they had already done the most important thing.
“It is socially acceptable to be a College Republican,” Rove said.
Sinead Casey, the CRs’ director of public relations, said Rove was a get for the student organization. The last time Rove appeared on campus was in 2008, when the event was darkened by a slew of protests directed at the strategist.
“[Rove] gave us a great way to look at our personal futures and of the party we’re dedicated to,” Casey said.