by DOTTY NIST
“I like this part of the country. I like the people here,” Karl Rove told the close to 400 attendees at the Grand Sandestin on Dec. 1.
Rove has owned a second home in south Walton County since the early 2000s. The former chief of staff and senior advisor to President George W. Bush was featured speaker at the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Dec. 1 Annual Meeting.
Rove said he got interested in Walton County in 1984, when he read an article about Seaside. “What a magnet it was for people who had not heard of this part of the country!” he said of the new urbanist village.
Rove revealed that his son, now 22, had learned to ride a bicycle at Seaside on a stay there. This was one of many visits by the family to south Walton County after they learned of the area. Rove said that in 2002 he had acquired a lot at Rosemary Beach, where he built his second home.
However, Rove said he was only able to spend 12 days at Rosemary Beach over the past year and will probably be able to stay there even fewer days next year due to his busy schedule.
Known as the “architect” of Bush’s 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns and a master of political strategy, Rove currently serves as a Fox News contributor and writes for a number of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, for which he contributes a weekly op-ed column. In November 2010, his book Courage and Consequences: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight was released.
“This smells to me like 1980,” Rove commented at a press conference preceding the event. Evoking the contest over three decades ago between President Jimmy Carter and Republican challenger Ronald Reagan, in which Reagan won by a landslide, Rove assessed the current mood of the American public as dissatisfied and disappointed with current leadership—but asking of candidates for the 2012 election, “Are you going to be better?”
Rove predicted that President Obama will run a negative campaign due to the president having “no big domestic accomplishments to run on.”
Rove said he plans to lend his support to whichever of the Republican candidates obtaims the party’s nomination. He listed as necessary qualities for a successful candidate the capability to withstand attack and to “indict” Obama, along with the ability to reassure the public that the future can be brighter under new leadership.
Later, in his remarks at the dinner, Rove predicted that the topics dominating the upcoming election would be how to get the economy moving again (not by spending, he emphasized), along with the issues of the national debt and deficit.
Rove spoke of the “remarkable rise” of the United States after being settled by “outcasts” and “indentured servants.” He also spoke with pride of a family ancestor, Olaf Julius Rove, a landless Norwegian who settled in Wisconsin, becoming an insurance agent and aiding other countymen get settled in the area. Around 1906, he explained, Norway asked Olaf to serve as the first consul, similar to an ambassador, to the United States. Rove reported that his ancestor refused the appointment because he would have to give up his American citizenship, “and it is too precious to me.”
He also told the inspiring story of the Bill and Christine Krissof family, who he had first met in Reno in the company of President Bush on a visit to families of servicemen lost in the War on Terror. The family had lost one son, Marine Lt. Nathan Krissof, in Iraq. They were accompanied by Nathan’s younger brother Austin, who had also enlisted in the Marines. After approximately 30 minutes of heartfelt comments by Christine, Bill, the father, a 61-year-old orthopedic surgeon, asked Bush to give him a waiver to join the military so that he could go to the Middle East and provide care to American soldiers there.
Rove explained that working to fulfill Krissof’s request for a waiver was one of his final actions before leaving the Bush administration in 2007. He said that Krissof, an avid kayaker, was able to succeed at the remaining requirement for his plan, which was passing his physical, with flying colors. He achieved his goal of serving in Iraq as a surgeon. Bill and Christine’s son Austin was also deployed to Iraq in March 2008, Rove explained.
“That’s what America is all about,” Rove said of the family’s dedication.
Rove cited polls showing overwhelming positive views by the public on capitalism, the free market, and the importance of the success of American businesses. While many have a negative view of big business, 66 percent say that it is important to the success of the nation that big business earn a profit, he added. The same number surveyed also believe that federal taxes should not exceed 20 percent of anyone’s income, Rove revealed. He observed a “disconnect” between the public’s thoughts on these matters and those of policy makers.
“We are not a nation built on envy,” Rove asserted.
Asked how the media could be made to become more balanced, Rove urged for “nurturing” alternative sources of information, including the Internet.
He opposed the suggestion that foreign aid be cut out and that money used domestically, pointing out that this spending represents less than 1 percent of the federal budget. He urged that the use of foreign aid be continued in order to provide leverage to influence other nations in the promotion of American interests.
Rove praised America’s leadership under George W. Bush’s administration with the World AIDS Fund and the program’s positive impact in Africa at the cost of “pennies per person per day” from Americans. Due to Bush’s leadership with that initiative, George and Laura are the most popular names for children in some part of that continent, Rove noted.
America’s problem, rather than foreign aid, Rove said, is in other areas, including the “inability to control entitlement spending.”
Asked for his view on term limits in Congress, Rove said he used to be a fan but had changed his mind. In the first place, they won’t happen because Congress won’t vote limits in, he noted. In states where term limits have been put in place, he explained, bright people are voted in in legislatures and quickly “they’re out.” As a result, special interest groups become more powerful than legislators, he observed.
Instead of term limits, Rove advocated limiting legislators’ pay and the number of days of the session, as is the practice with Texas’ legislature. He spoke to the need for a president who will stand up to Congress and tell them that they cannot raise their pay.
In response to a question on the possibility of instituting hard-asset-based currency, Rove opined that the U.S. had erred in going off the gold standard suddenly in the 1930s and rapidly going to fiat currency in the 1970s. He said he would support moving away from fiat currency but that the change should not take place too quickly. Rove also urged for relieving the Federal Reserve of its dual responsibility and giving it the one job of keeping U.S. currency strong.
Concluding with more complimentary words about Walton County, Rove credited residents for their vision and daring in taking the area from the “nowhereville” of the 1980s to the renowned community of today. “It’s a testament to what our country is all about,” he said.