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Rove tells Wichita crowd U.S. may not avoid ‘fiscal cliff’

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, at 11:01 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, at 10:33 a.m.

Former presidential adviser Karl Rove said in a speech Wednesday in Wichita he is not optimistic that America will avoid going over the “fiscal cliff” by the end of the year, but that the country will resolve the situation.

“We know in our heart and soul what America is. We know the values that made our country great, and we’re not going to let them get away,” he said.

Rove, who served as senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, was the featured speaker Wednesday at the opening of the Kansas Livestock Association’s 100th convention. He spoke to a crowd of more than 600 people in the Hyatt Regency Wichita ballroom.

Rove is a contributor to Fox News, is a Newsweek columnist and writes a weekly opinion-editorial for the Wall Street Journal.

Rove said that the concern over the “fiscal cliff,” a package of tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect next year unless lawmakers and the White House can strike a new deal, has cloaked other significant problems such as the national deficit and the struggling economy in which 23 million Americans are unemployed.

“We’ve had the longest period of unemployment since the Great Depression,” Rove said.

The opportunity for people to achieve the American Dream is threatened.

“This is a country based on a dream, a big dream, and succeeding,” he said.

Attention over the fiscal cliff is obscuring that larger picture, Rove said.

“Our problem is too much spending and too little growth, and raising taxes is not going to solve either one of those problems,” he said.

Rove said he is a product of the American Dream. He grew up on “the shabby side of the middle class,” he said, but worked his way through college and wound up in the White House.

As for the current resident of the White House, Rove joked that he was no longer suicidal that President Obama won re-election, but was “merely despondent.”

Rove said the coalition of blacks, Hispanics and women trumpeted by the media as the reason Obama won wasn’t the decisive factor.

“What happened is that for only the sixth time in American history, the number of people who showed up for an election dropped from the previous election,” he said.

Obama ended won by a lower percentage than he did in 2008, and his opponent, Republican Mitt Romney, received more votes than Republican nominee John McCain did in 2008.

Rove said the lack of Democratic primaries helped Obama win because Romney emerged from the Republican primary as “a wounded candidate.”

He also said Obama was helped by his advisers’ decision to go negative on Romney because they knew the president couldn’t run on his record, and by a real October surprise, Hurricane Sandy, which allowed Obama to appear presidential.

In response to a question, Rove said social issues aren’t splintering the Republican Party. He cited Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s comment during his Senate candidacy that pregnancy rarely results from cases of “legitimate rape,” which cost Akin the election.

“What splinters the Republican Party is intolerant and judgmental language, and an unwillingness to acknowledge differences,” Rove said.

Reach Fred Mann at 316-268-6310 or fmann@wichitaeagle.com.

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