Thursday, May 10, 2012

SALT Conference: Rove and Gibbs Almost Come to Blows

Being a little hung over from last night's terrific Maroon 5 concert, you can forgive me for thinking that I walked into the Roman Coliseum instead of a discussion between Republican mastermind Karl Rove and long time Obama advisor Robert Gibbs at the SkyBridge Capital's SALT Conference. Rove kept hitting Gibbs over the head with the demand that President Obama make a public statement that attacks on Romney's Mormon religion are off limits. Obama has already made a similar statement about the families of candidates.

He said, "The president should tell his followers to stop talking about his weird beliefs and underwear."

Gibbs weakly insisted, "The President never talks about Romney religion."

As a seasoned political observer, the amount of time that Rove spent on the weird Mormonism theme tells me two things. Their polling indicates that Romney is losing lost of votes due to his religion. Even though everyone says the election is about the economy and the room was filled with financial experts, the Republicans really do not have an economic message, except the tired old one of tax cuts.

Rove also wanted to know why the President has not returned the $1 million check of Bill Maher, who has been accused of misogynistic comments.

Gibbs, trying to skirt the issue, answered, "The President condemns those comments." He further asserted that a candidate can not be responsible for all the comments of his supporters.

At the beginning of the session, the two political pros discussed Obama's decision this week to openly support gay marriage.

Gibbs said, "The President has been thinking about this for a long time."

Rove immediately shot down that theory. "The President came out earlier on this issue than he wanted because Biden screwed up, like he always does. He wanted to drag this out for another 18 months for political advantage. This could hurt him among the Catholics, whom are a large part of the swing vote. If he was going to come out, why did he come out the day after the North Carolina vote against gay marriage. The gay marriage advocates there must be asking where was he yesterday."

Both political strategists agree that it will be close election. 7-8% of the voters in 11 swing states will decide the election. Putting it other way,  hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent on advertising to change the minds of a few voters.

Rove surprised me by asking why the American taxpayer should pay for the healthcare of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. If a Democratic had asked the same question, it would have been called class warfare. His comment indicates the Republicans might be open to having the rich pay their fair share, the four letter word of this campaign.

Gibbs also acknowledged that entitlements will have to be cut.

This round of the "Hunger Games" went to the feisty Karl Rove. The Democrats have to learn to fight with their elbows. Although he had been Obama's press secretary, Gibbs was not effective at delivering the president's message.

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