Karl Rove: Tea Party ‘not sophisticated’

By Sahil Kapur
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 9:17 EDT
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Former top Bush adviser Karl Rove told a European publication that the Tea Party movement is “not sophisticated” and lacks the coherency and intelligence of prior right-wing uprisings in the United States.

“If you look underneath the surface of the Tea Party movement, on the other hand, you will find that it is not sophisticated,” Rove said in an interview with the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel published online Tuesday. “It’s not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek.”

The Reagan Revolution, by contrast, was a “well-organized, coherent, ideologically motivated and conservative revolution,” Rove posited.

He also said the Tea Party was not a response to the bank bailouts, as many claim, but came in response to the Obama administration’s stimulus package, which was designed to help ordinary Americans.

“Remember the Tea Party movement didn’t get started in September of 2008 when the bank bailout was passed,” Rove said. “It really began on Feb. 19th, 2009 when a television commentator named Rick Santelli stood up and said what the hell are we doing bailing out people who couldn’t afford a mortgage by taking money from people like me who are prudent?”

Referring to the movement as comprised of well-intentioned newcomers to politics, he added: “Most have never been involved in politics before. This is their first experience, and they have the enthusiasm of people who have never done it before.”

Rove found himself on the losing side of a clash between GOP establishment figures and Tea Party supporters when he referred to nominee Christine O’Donnell as “nutty” and unelectable upon her nomination to the US Senate. He ultimately walked back his remarks after right-wing public figures like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin pounced.

The “architect” of the Bush presidency, as he is known, has stepped up his role in Republican politics in the era of President Barack Obama. He is orchestrating millions in campaign spending on attack ads against Democrats via his two groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.

Rove also offered characteristically harsh criticism of Obama, but argued that he is not, as many Republicans claim, a “socialist.”

“A lot of people call him a socialist. I don’t. He is a social democrat, though,” he said.

Read Rove’s interview with Der Spiegel here.

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