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Clinton: The Rove Candidate of 2008?

Is Clinton running the most like Rove? (AP).

As he packs his desk just 15 steps from the Oval Office, Karl Rove says he will not join any 2008 presidential campaign. That's just as well, since none of the Republican candidates presumably could afford the association even if they wanted his strategic smarts. And besides, none of them is really running his style of campaign. The candidate who seems to be adopting his style and methods the most so far? Hillary Rodham Clinton.

At least that's what Nicolle Wallace thinks. "Hillary is running the most Rove-like campaign out of all of them," Wallace, a former Bush White House communications director who worked closely with Rove, said in an interview. "She has almost operationalized the whole idea of turning your weakness into strength, message discipline that is almost pathological -- she does not get off message for any reason -- and never skipping an opportunity to exploit her opponent's weaknesses."

Even Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, seems to agree, effectively vowing to run her operation much as Rove did his two successful national campaigns. "She expresses admiration for the way George W. Bush's campaign team controlled its message, and, given her druthers, would run this race no differently," Michelle Cottle writes in New York magazine. "'We are a very disciplined group, and I am very proud of it,' she says with a defiant edge."

Rove and the Clintons have circled each other warily these last eight years, exhibiting a mix of grudging respect and deep bitterness as the central if competing political strategists of their era. Rove singled out Hillary Clinton's campaign in his parting interviews in the last few days, predicting she will win the Democratic nomination and be a tough opponent in the fall of 2008. "Any rational observer would have to say that Hillary Clinton is a prohibitive favorite to win the nomination," he told reporters aboard Air Force One as he and President Bush headed to vacation in Texas yesterday. In his weekend interview with the Wall Street Journal's Paul A. Gigot published yesterday, Rove called Clinton "a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate."

The Clintons recognize the skill Rove has brought to politics and admire his craft, if not his ideology. Just days after the November 2004 election, Bill Clinton pulled Rove aside at the dedication of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Arkansas. "Hey, you did a marvelous job, it was just marvelous what you did," Clinton told Rove, according to the book, ""The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008," by our former colleague, John F. Harris and his co-author, Mark Halperin. "I want to get you down to the library. I want to talk politics with you. You just did an incredible job and I'd like to really get together with you and I think we could have a great conversation."

That's not to say Rove hasn't aggravated the Clintons. Hillary Clinton uses him regularly as a foil in fundraising appeals and on the trail. And by last year, Bill Clinton was expressing exasperation rather than admiration. "I am sick of Karl Rove's [manure]," the former president exclaimed to the New Yorker's David Remnick. Even then, Remnick wrote that "there was a trace of admiration in the remark, a veteran pol's regard for the way his rival had packaged a radical brand of American conservatism as 'compassionate conservatism' and kept on pushing it long after its sell-by date had passed."

And why not? Harris and Halperin wrote last year that Rove and the Clintons shared some of the same understandings of how politics work and the two authors even crafted a list that they titled "What Hillary Clinton and Karl Rove Know About the Way to Win the White House in 2008." Clinton, they wrote, has "borrowed some strategies" from Rove for dealing with the media, enemies and anticipated attacks. "Like Karl Rove," they wrote, "Hillary Clinton knows that playing offense is better than playing defense. ... Hillary Clinton obviously dislikes Bush's policy goals, but she appreciates some of the methods he has used to achieve them."

So if Hillary Clinton were to win next year, would it be a repudiation of Karl Rove politics or the perpetuation of them?

-- Peter Baker

By Susan Glasser  |  August 14, 2007; 8:38 AM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Morning Cheat Sheet  
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Next: The Divider Behind the Uniter


Hillary is most assuredly a divider!

Posted by: tinkabell1 | August 16, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

"Rest assured, if Obama or Edwards possessed Hillary's strategy skills, they would have blown her off the charts months ago.

She makes them look like the amateurs they are. "

No, audart, it has nothing to do with strategy skills, it has everything to do with *name recognition*. If Hillary had a last name other than "Clinton" and hadn't spent 8 years in the public eye as Bill Clinton's first wife, she wouldn't be garnering 2% of the vote.

Hillary's name recognition advantage is going to wear off very quickly when the general election results start up, and Hillary is consistently the Democrats' worst candidate against strong Republicans, especially people like Giuliani. Whereas Obama and Edwards are almost sure winners against them.

The Democrats need to take a long, sober look at the data and realize that currently the favorite to get the Democratic nomination (Hillary Clinton) is by far the least popular, with the highest negatives, of any of the major candidates. She's a catastrophe waiting to happen for the Democratic Party, and they'd be wise to choose Obama or Edwards (Obama in particular).

Posted by: malagasy | August 15, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Hillary is a political strategist, a seeker of power, and a very unprincipled woman. Her every move, for many, many years now, has been calculated to gain power. I went to High School with Hillary in Park Ridge, IL, and even back then, she wanted power. She ran for Student Council president, and lost to a boy. I saw the look on her face in the school hallway when the winner was announced over the intercom. I never forgot that look of devestation on her face. She's been aiming toward this nomination process and 2008 election her whole life, and is using any means she can to win. Of this I am completely sure.

Posted by: ru4reel | August 15, 2007 1:24 AM | Report abuse

The Clintons are far more dangerous & despicable than Karl Rove & one name proves it: Sandy Berger.

Forget about Marc Rich, Vince Foster, the MacDougals, Lewinsky, & even Juannita Broaderick, the FACT that Sandy Berger pled guilty to stealing classified documents related to terrorism & then shredding them on the eve of the 911 Commission is the single greatest political crime in the history of the US. Don't believe it? Check out the Wash Post's archives.

The other evidence comes from a C-SPAN presidential survey in 2000. 58 respected historians (not right-wing radio hosts) ranked the presidents from first to last in several categories. Bill Clinton was DEAD LAST in the category of "Moral Authority"; AFTER Nixon. Bias you say? More than half of the top 10 presidents ranked were Democrats. The culture of corruption was perfected by the Clintons.

Posted by: pribb1 | August 14, 2007 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Rove's tactics were divided into two pretty distinct part. Part I: "Stick to the message." The candidate repeats the same thing again and again until, inevitably, people begin to believe it. A poll less than a year ago showed that about one in five Americans STILL believed that Saddam was behind 9/11. Treat people as if they were stupid, because they actually ARE kind of stupid. If she sticks to that tactic she'll have an edge. Part Two: Rove's Dirty Tricks. Example: In the 2000 campaign Rove initiated a rumor offensive against McCain, flooding the internet and conservative talk shows with allegations that McCain had had a "love child" by a black prostitute. (The reference was to a Bengladesh orphan adopted by McCain and his wife.) Rove had people out on Sunday mornings leaving flyers on the windshields of cars in church parking lots. McCain ignored the rumor until it was picked up by the mainstream media and reported as "an unsupported rumor." When he finally responded angrily, the Bush campaign came out with its prepared response. McCain had been "unbalanced" by his five years as a POW, effectively turning McCain's military experience against him -- as they were to do with Kerry four years later. If Hillary Clinton follows THIS Roveian path, she should not only lose the nomination. She should be shunned.

Posted by: rmax304823 | August 14, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Time and again I see commentators claim that it is the Iraq war that is solely responsible for Bush's low poll ratings. Id have to argue that it is way they treated those who disagreed with them on the war (and pretty much any other issue) that has made them as unpopular as they are to day. It is Karl Rove who has perfected the "demonization" of the opposition and Bush is now just sowing what he reaped.

Posted by: MarcMyWords | August 14, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

If I were ever accused of a crime, the only person I'd want representing me in a courtroom would be Hilary Clinton. You will never surprise her and her grasp of the legal issues at hand, etc will far surpass anyone else in the courtroom.

And her campaign is a machine.

Her problem isn't her likeability (though I don't particularly like her, we hear in private she's feisty, with a salty tongue, very likeable qualities)

Hilary's problem is that just like Mitt Romney, you can't believe a single thing that comes out of her mouth. She is utterly disingenuous. Every mannerism of hers I have ever seen on TV is disingenuous.

She will say and do anything that benefits her politically.

That's' why she can be my lawyer, but not my president.

Posted by: bogey666 | August 14, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the title of the article is right, but the message is wrong.

Rove wants Hillary to be the 2008 candidate because he can beat her and ensure that a Republican remains in the White House.

The Bush administration has a lot to protect, especially in its Iraq files. The only way to ensure a Bush legacy is to have a Republican candidate. They don't want to turn over the keys and files to a Democrat, believe me.

Posted by: macktan894 | August 14, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse


gov/podcast/060914-091406_cobu rn-obama_transparency_bill/ind ex.html

09.14.06 Coburn-Obama Transparency Bill
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Printable FormatSenator Obama discusses the Coburn-Obama Transparency Bill, which creates a public searchable website of all federal spending. This will allow the American people to find out where their tax dollars are going. It's been passed by both the House and the Senate and the President has indicated he'll sign it in to law, possibly next week

NOTICE obama was working on REFORM back in september 2006 wayyyyyyy before he decided to run.

Senate Passes Coburn-Obama Bill to Create Internet Database of Federal Spending
Friday, September 8, 2006
Obama Contact: Tommy Vietor or Robert Gibbs, 202-228-5511
Coburn Contact: John Hart, 202-228-5357
Date: September 8, 2006

Senate Passes Coburn-Obama Bill to Create Internet Database of Federal Spending

Transparency for Government Contracts
When we created Sunlight we made a point to note that the issue of greater transparency for government actions was a nonpartisan issue. We saw support for it across party lines in our initial polling and we see it again today in an editorial in the conservative newspaper -- the Examiner --which endorses transparency for government grants and contracts. The paper strongly supports Sen. Tom Coburn's Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S. 2590) that would make all information about federal contracts and grants available to the public free of charge in a searchable, downloadable online format on the Internet. (Coburn is the original sponsor of the proposal, and the measure is co-sponsored by the unlikely bedfellows of Sens. Barack Obama, Tom Carper and John McCain, R-Ariz.)

Bipartisan Proposal to Require Federal Contractors to Pay Taxes Passes Senate
July 27, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and **** Durbin (D-IL) today lauded the Senate's passage of their amendment to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill that would withhold federal homeland security contracts from companies and grantees that have not paid their federal taxes. According to studies by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), thousands of federal agency contractors owe billions of dollars in unpaid taxes. This amendment will withhold large DHS contracts from businesses and organizations that failed to file tax returns and were delinquent on payroll taxes for a significant period of time.

Posted by: DANIELLECLARKE | August 14, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

When will we elect a president unlike Woodrow Wilson and those that have followed? A person with integrity - unafraid of the power mongers who rule Washington with impunity. An individual who believes in the constitution, one who will work diligently to dissolve the illegal Federal Reserve System and return our nation, as the framers foresaw, to its rightful place in history. By the way, I beseech those of you who believe the FED is a legal entity to do a little research. Ya know, Google it.

Posted by: virgilio1 | August 14, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

First of all Karl (as proven in recent articles) was not an advisor to the War in Iraq. True we have an idiot President that has no concept of reality who continues to live in Bushland sacrificing thousands of lives by this unjustified war. However let's not forget that KR is a political campaign consultant and nothing more! His dabbling in policing has not been effective to the extent his persuasion and strategic planning has failed to line up support for such things as Social Security (politics third-rail) and immigration reform. However in order to be an effective campaign adviser you must have an adapt concept of policy and messaging in order to have a platform for which your candidate has to run on! Was he the best policy-maker in Washington? Far from it! IS he the best political strategist and campaign advisor of this decade? ABSOLUTELY! Like it or not!

Posted by: brothahassan | August 14, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Bush/Rove and the Clintons have more in common than any of them would admit. But Rove may yet be wrong about Hillary's nomination - it's a much closer race than the media would lead you to believe:

Posted by: sunwolf78 | August 14, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

It's not Rove's style that has been the problem; it's his substance. He led our country into enormously disastrous mistakes. Similar zeal in service of good policies would be viewed quite differently.

Posted by: dkaa4 | August 14, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Rove was fired. My guess is that he was an Albatross.

I'm not sure that Clinton being seen as a Rove model is bad news for Clinton.

There is a large block of people who won't vote for her and will be energized to vote against her. There is a large block of Democrats who are turned off by Rove-like tactics.

Posted by: Zevgadol | August 14, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

As a former state office holder in Pennsylvania I learned first hand that there are two distinctly different parts to serving in public office: GETTING elected and BEING elected.
Karl Rove undoubtedly has the first part nailed as evidenced by the his GETTING someone as lacking in ability as George W. Bush elected four times - twice as Governor of Texas and twice to the White House.
As for the job Bush has done BEING elected...well, as Paul Harvey would say, we know the rest of the story.

Posted by: flagrott | August 14, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Peter comes to the point late in asking
"So if Hillary Clinton were to win next year, would it be a repudiation of Karl Rove politics or the perpetuation of them?"

A perpetuation. Which is why a Clinton nomination for the 2008 Presidency should be avoided at all costs by the Democratic party.

Posted by: bsimon | August 14, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

In campaigns anything goes!

Wrong, if you have a moral compass, that is bull used to gloss over lying and cheating.
It's essentially a WAR to be won or lost; there is no in between! If you can't stand the HEAT stay the HELL out of the kitchen and let Chef Karl cook up another victory!

What victory? 3600+ dead American Patriots in a war for oil? What true believer drivel.

Right, we will bring Jeffersonian democracy to a country that is totally different from US.

As for taking the heat, Karl has never been near it nor has Bush. They let the others do the dirty and dying work.

They prove once again that war is still a racket for profit.

Posted by: raybelongie1 | August 14, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing criminal in suggesting someone is something based on their past! KR is a master at identifying weaknesses and exploiting them and taking their strengths and having them become weaknesses! In campaigns anything goes! It's essentially a WAR to be won or lost; there is no in between! If you can't stand the HEAT stay the HELL out of the kitchen and let Chef Karl cook up another victory!

Posted by: brothahassan | August 14, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

KARL ROVE ADVISED GEORGE BUSH TO BECOME A WAR PRESIDENT because of the adage, Don't change horses in mid-stream, i.e., a war president has a leg-up on re-election.

In January 2002, Rove advised all Republican Senate and Congressional candidates to "run on the war," some 10 months before Congress authorized Bush to use military force on Iraq.

Plain and simple, Rove used 9/11 as a launching pad for a permanent Republican majority. Since then, he has characterized a vote for any Democratic candidate as a vote for the terrorists.

This despicable pig -- and "Piggy" is a better nickname for him than Bush's "Turdblossom" -- engineered the greatest strategic mistake in U.S. history, costing some half-million dead and some trillion or so dollars, all for partisan advantage.

History will not be kind to Piggy Rove.

Posted by: goat909295 | August 14, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

This story is just not accurate because a candidate (like Hillary) who changes their position depending on who she is talking to and whatever public opinion polls are suggesting cannot be said to be "staying on message."

If by "staying on message" you mean continuing to blame all the world's problems on the current administration (as opposed to her husband's administration who underestimated Osama bin Laden and failed to take chances to take him out) and by not having ANY plan of her own for how to deal with the various problems this country faces, I see your point. Something tells me this isn't what the writer was going for though.

Posted by: gthstonesman | August 14, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Is it a suprise that the Clinton's look up to Rove?

They all value winning above all else.

They all will say ANYTHING to get or stay elected.

They all fall short of expectations after elections.


Posted by: gthstonesman | August 14, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton, like Karl Rove, is a keen strategist who knows how to win, but that is where the Clinton/Rove comparison ends.

It is blatantly unfair to Hillary to suggest she has any other similarities to Karl Rove.

Rest assured, if Obama or Edwards possessed Hillary's strategy skills, they would have blown her off the charts months ago.

She makes them look like the amateurs they are.

Posted by: audart | August 14, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

So far Clinton has not used the Push Polls like Turdblossom did in Texas by insinuating that most of the women on Richardson staff were lesbians for Bush to win the governorship

Nor the 2000 South Carolina smear of McCain, his family, and his patiotism and blew him out of the primaries.

To credit his with brilliance because he knows how and is willing to smear the opponent with any lies that work is wrong. That is criminal and immoral not brilliant.

I don't admire any person who is ready to justify any kind of means to win.

Posted by: raybelongie1 | August 14, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Tom Colburn is a great one to talk about compromise. What a friggin' hypocrite.

What scares the GOP the most about Clinton is that we all know, from experience, that Bill Clinton actually knew how to govern.

The fatal flaw of the Bush administration is that all their ideas looked better on paper when they were out of government, than they have ever looked in the harsh light of reality.

Can anyone imagine Hillary Clinton, in response to a growing Iraqi insurgency, publicly spouting off something like, "Bring it on"???

The GOP has turned out to be the Party of Big Government, Big Brother, wasted tax dollars to private contractors, ear-marked bridges to nowhere (while bridges to somewhere collapse), lost weaponry in a war zone, missing intelligence (in more ways than one) regarding our enemies, and utter incompetence with everything they touch.

Even Karl Rove can't save that kind of reputation for failure.

Posted by: freespeak | August 14, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

when a right-wing friend of mine recently brought up the issue of the Vince Foster suicide investigation (which suggests to me that it's being floated by Rush and his peers), I realized that the Repubs would pummel Hillary with that non-issue if she's nominated, just like the Swift Boat liars went after Kerry last time. And who better to lead the smear campaign than KR.

Posted by: eomcmars | August 14, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Honestly, message discipline and turning weakness into strengths are not the things about Karl Rove that hurt America. The things that hurt America are governing from the base and not finding common ground with the larger electorate. I think that style had a lot more to do with George Bush's deficiencies as a leader than Karl Rove. In the Senate, Hillary has shown herself to be very willing to find common ground with people she has differences with (perhaps more so than many of her supporters would like).

Posted by: jonawebb | August 14, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Karl Rove and Hillary Clinton both forget that the end does not justify the means. Barack Obama seems to remember that well.

Posted by: cwh2 | August 14, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"If Barack disagrees with you or thinks you haven't done something appropriate he's the kind of guy who'll talk to you about it, "Coburn told New York magazine, "He'll come up and reconcile: 'I don't think
you were truthful about my bill.'I've seen him do that. On the Senate floor."

"What Washington does is cause everybody to concentrate on where they disagree as opposed to where they agree," Coburn continued. "But leadership changes that. And Barack's got the capability, I believe-and the pizzazz and the charisma-to be a leader of America, not a leader of Democrats."

-Sen. Tom Coburn,R-Okl

Posted by: sullivat1 | August 14, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

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