Karl Rove Tactics:How To Defeat Political Opponents

What You Say If You’re Karl Rove And Your Client Has A Political Weakness Or Liability
by Simple Simon

Karl Rove’s Background and Credentials
Make no mistake.  This man is a master, a legend, the Mephistopheles of American politics

Rove came into his own as Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff during the George W. Bush administration, having engineered Bush’s 1994 and 1998 Texas gubernatorial victories and his 2000 and 2004 successful presidential campaigns. One biographer called him “Bush’s Brain.”

In the post-Bush era, Rove has been a regular on Fox News, and since 2010 has served a key strategist for American Crossroads, the Republican SuperPAC with zillions of dollars to spend.  (In case you haven’t followed the news carefully, a SuperPAC is a political action committee–PAC–but with one big exception.  A superPac can raise funds from corporations, unions and other groups, and from individuals, without legal limits.)

During the next few months, when you see a TV political ad with the name American Crossroads, think Karl Rove.

Karl Rove’s Political Tactics
Rove is sometimes  called the “father of dirty tricks.” That’s inaccurate. The term “dirty tricks” came into wide usage during the Nixon years and the Watergate scandal–when Rove was just a youngster  However, Rove’s name is associated with some of the tactics that were called “dirty tricks” at the time.

This is one of them:  If your client has a weakness, transfer that weakness to his or her opponent.

Here’s how it’s been employed in the past.  George W. Bush had a weak military record.  He was a part-time pilot in the reserves during the Vietnam War, and never saw combat. That was a potential problem.  Bush’s opponent John Kerry had served in combat, and had been decorated for valorous service.

What to do?  Transfer Bush’s weakness to Kerry.  Attack Kerry’s  patriotism and raise questions about his medals.  The tactic was highly successful, and diverted  attention away from Bush’s non-existent combat record.

Fast forward to 2011, and Mitt Romney. Romney is weak on Medicare, job creation, and flip-flopping.  So, what to do?

One. Romney’s approach to Medicare is a major liability. He has embraced the Paul Ryan budget, which among other things, will eventually turn Medicare into vouchers–a kind of Groupon program for seniors. That’s a major problem, because seniors like Medicare.

So, Romney says, “Obama will end Medicare as we know it.”

Two. Massachusetts, when Romney was its Governor, ranked near the very bottom in job creation. So, Romney says, “Jobs have disappeared during the Obama administration.”

Three. Romney has been painted by his Republican rivals as a flip-flopper, as being for Obamacare before he was against Obamacare, being for Planned Parenthood before he was against Planned Parenthood, being pro-choice before he was pro-life, being for cap-and-trade before he was against cap-and-trade.

So what does Rove’s political playbook call for? Romney will portray Obama as a flip-flopper.  Here’s the template: “Obama the President said that. Obama the candidate says this.”

Simple Simon believes this campaign should be fun to watch, but you won’t understand the action unless you read the program.


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