'Holy cow,' exclaims MSNBC host, Rove thinks Bush could sink GOP
Former chief Bush political strategist Karl Rove is telling GOP Oval Office seekers in 2008 to keep a safe distance from the man he helped to twice elect, according to MSNBC host Dan Abrams' interpretation of a recent opinion column penned by Rove.
"It sounds to me like Karl Rove is giving the Republican candidates advice that says 'get away from my guy,'" Abrams said of Rove's Saturday column in Newsweek, in which the the former adviser warned that President Bush's lagging poll numbers would do no favors for GOP presidential hopefuls in 2008. "Am I the only one who's reading Karl Rove and saying 'holy cow?'" the host asked later.
In the column, entitled "How to Beat Hillary (Next) November," Rove laid out a loose general election strategy to combat frontrunning Democratic presidential contender Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
"So show them who you are in a way that gives the American people hope, optimism and insight," he wrote to would-be Republican nominees. "That's the best antidote to the low approval rates of the Republican president Those numbers will not help the GOP candidate, just as the even lower approval ratings of the Congress will not help the Democratic standard-bearer."
Abrams said that the advice was a telling indicator about the state of the Republican Party.
"When you've got Karl Rove advising...the Republican candidates to effectively distance themselves from President Bush," remarked the host, "I think that tells you how much trouble President Bush, and possibly the Republicans, are in."
Guest pundit Pat Buchanan, himself a former adviser to President Richard Nixon, agreed with Abrams'assessment.
"[Bush] is a liability to the Republican candidate next year," said Buchanan. "I mean, Karl Rove is acting as a strategist here and he's saying exactly what I would say, which is once that convention gets going...move away from the president and the administration. Put distance between them and make Hillary Rodham Clinton the issue and don't let them make Bush the issue."
Buchanan added, however, that Bush would likely be glad to accept criticism from others in his party if it would aid the prospects of 2008 Republican candidates.
"Thats what guys say in the real business, I'll come in and criticize you if it'll help you out," added Buchanan. "If you want to help the party, I think Bush would say himself, 'move away from me.'"
Air America radio host Rachel Maddow, also a guest during the segment, said that what struck her most about the Newsweek piece was what she perceived as a lack of substance in the political advice offered.
"The most important thing about this article I think is not so much that Rove is telling the candidates to run away from Bush -- although that is funny," she said, adding later in the program that "Rove has no substantive advice to give to candidates other than to 'smile and pretend Bush doesn't exist.'"
The column also included Rove's urgings for the eventual Republican nominee to be "strong on Iraq," to talk about issues like "health care, the cost of college and social mobility," and to go after minority voters "who aren't traditional Republicans."
Read the full Rove column in Newsweek here.
The following video is from MSNBC's Abrams Report, broadcast on November 19, 2007