Rove warns Republicans: Shutdown could boost Obama
April 8th, 2011
08:56 AM ET
3 years ago

Rove warns Republicans: Shutdown could boost Obama

Washington (CNN) – Furloughed jobs, interrupted services, and the potential economic ramifications aside, top Republican strategist Karl Rove is warning a government shutdown is likely to strengthen President Obama's hand as he heads into his reelection campaign.

In his weekly polling memo, Rove notes the 1995 government shutdown bolstered President Clinton's image in the eyes of voters as a strong leader, positioning him for a relatively easy reelection victory one year later.

"The shutdowns helped improve Clinton's political standing, boosting both his approval rating and perceptions of him as a strong leader," writes Rove. "At the time, poll watchers noted that, 'the only time Clinton's ratings have improved substantially the past year as a result of his actions has been when he adopted a strategy of confrontation.'"

Rove reports Clinton's approval rating saw nearly a double-digit jump during the 1995 government shutdown and continued to climb as the reelection campaign began in earnest.

Meanwhile, while only 37 percent of voters viewed Clinton as a strong leader in June of 1995, that number shot up to 53 percent six months later as a result of his confrontations with then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and other Republican leaders over the budget issue.

"While the government shutdowns didn't jeopardize Republicans' hold on Congress, they helped President Clinton position himself for a successful 1996 reelection," concludes Rove. "President Obama's ratings as a strong leader have slipped this year…Republicans should be careful not to let him recover as he gears up for his 2012 reelection campaign."


Filed under: Government Shutdown • Karl Rove
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. John in Brooklyn

    So...in other words....being statemanlike and mature – as opposed to belingerant and ideologically driven (such as Gingrich was in 1995 and the Tea Party nutcases in 2011) actually impresses voters. Shocking news!

    April 8, 2011 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  2. Vigla

    Right, so let's SHUT IT DOWN! We've been hijacked by right wing extremists that even Karl Rove is afraid of folks... Democrats and independents WAKE UP! In 2012 kick these tea party buffoons to the curb and replace them with sane folks. Please, for the sake of our nation, we can't afford to have clowns holding the reigns of government and we also can't afford to have people who HATE government running it. Basic rule, if someone tells you that government is the problem, then they have no business being a part of it...and that INCLUDES Reagan IMO. Conservatives didn't learn their lesson in 2006 and 2008. Instead they became MORE conservative and we rewarded them. I'm glad they are doing these horrible things to regular people because we now see them for what they are. Heartless, greedy, and incompetant... PLEASE kick them out in 2012.

    April 8, 2011 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  3. William

    Karl Rove is the "oracle" of politics ..... just look at what he did for the Republican Party when Bush was in office. As a democrat, I say, "go for it Repubs. Listen to your oracle of success".

    April 8, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  4. hq211acr

    Does Karl Rove actually think that the Republicans/Tea party people are going to stop and listen to him. The Republicans have a full head of steam and are now kowtowing to the ultra right wing fringe element because they fear them. If the Republicans actually cared about the country this would not be happening. There are many areas where the budget can (and should)be cut, but to simply shut the government down as the Tea party seems to want is both absurd and ridiculous.

    April 8, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  5. jimm

    Funny, since Rove's group funded these people who are trying to shut the government down.

    April 8, 2011 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  6. laura

    Anybody who does not recognize the main Republican tactic of "hold everything hostage"until they get their perverse way, who doesn't recognize that the Republicans are the biggest puppet master hypocrites to ever have infested the American political scene, are virtually brain dead and should be promptly put out of their misery and buried. They want to prevent abortions so more babies can starve to death on American streets because they also want to cut welfare. Are they so stupid that they think poor people will stop breeding if they are poor? Since when? And who is going to be able to afford to feed the children they already have, let alone the one million+ adoption candidates that would suddenly exist each year. yes the Republican party wants to create jobs. But who wants the Job of scooping decomposing infant corpses off the roadsides of scenic America ? In crises it is always the elderly and the children who die first.

    April 8, 2011 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    I don't think The Brain can save this crop. Sorry Karl, you're too liberal for the Tea Party.

    April 8, 2011 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. Joan

    The Republicans are playing right into the Democrats hands. Many of them are willing to shut down the government over pet issues which will cause job loss and economic uncertainty. Reid is right. It is not the Democrats debating with the Republicans. It is the Republicans arguing with the other Republicans in the party. Boehner is having trouble controlling the children in his party which was predicted after the November elections. The economy is still very fragile and this is not the time to play silly partisan politics.

    April 8, 2011 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  9. Rob Johnson

    Rove may be Machiavellian and evil personified, but he's not stupid, and he knows politics.

    Obama isn't that popular, but the best thing he has going for him in the 2012 election is his competition. The GOP has a good opportunity to beat him next year, but not if they come across as a bunch of wild-eyed zealots who are willing to let Grandma go hungry without her Social Security check just to prove a political point.

    April 8, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  10. Candy Taylor

    You betcha Karl! The republican party is showing itself to be divided. The lunitic fringe in charge. Trump, Bachman, Palin your party leaders? Koch brothers and big business the puppet masters. Your attacks on teachers, police, fireman, union workers, senior citizens and the military will cost you dearly at the polls! Go Dems in 2012!

    April 8, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  11. Larry L

    The shutdown should hurt the Republicans. They are the group willing to drive the American government into the ground to satisfy their right-wing agenda. I will remember this at the polls and vote against every local, state and national Republican candidate.

    April 8, 2011 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  12. Brice

    Well, too late.. Obama is going to win re-election. You already know that.

    April 8, 2011 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  13. Charles

    Love him or hate him, Rove is usually right about polling and voters.

    April 8, 2011 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  14. SailorAP

    Wasn't Carl Rove deeply involved in the Iraqi invasion that was a big factor in bankrupting this country? Sure the cons should listen to hm again!!

    April 8, 2011 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. Dave

    It will boost Obama because the GOP is to blame for this mess and people with a measureable IQ realize this. The GOP, like whiney little children, refuses to compromise and then they have the nerve to blame the Democrats for not getting the job done. It's so typical of these dolts, everyone sees it before it happens.

    April 8, 2011 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  16. spike

    It doesn't matter what republicans do. With Romney and Trump as front runners for GOP 2012, Obama has nothing to worry about, regardless of what the republicans do with the budget "crisis" today. The republicans might as well have some fun and pee all over the federal government to make their ridiculous base happy. That's about all the shutdown will do for them.

    April 8, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  17. Jack

    As a conservative, I think Mr. Rowe has a over inflated view of himself.

    Although he is right about this! But he way too late in expressing his opinion. The damage has been done. The Tea Partiers have politically damaged themselves and the Republican Party for many years to come.

    This conservative will probably vote for a moderate Democrat before he even thinks about voting Republican ever again.

    I have been a life long Republican, now I consider my a Independent Conservative and will have nothing to do with the Tea Partiers or the Rpublican Party! They are vuglar, stubborn, obnoxious, their tactics are childish, They take their advice from sensationalism talk show host that use mudraking tactics. Gutter journalism is the best that you can call it! They say they understand the constitution, but unfortunately they forgot that constitution was a document of compromises, something they refuse to do to govern.

    I predict this right after the election. Stalemate to the extreme! Oh, Mr. Speaker you have a problem! Which rattlesnake are you to pick up yo be bitten by!

    April 8, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  18. GI Joe

    He is at least smart enough to know that taking women's rights and healthcare, and bankrupting most senior citizens is NOT the way to win friends and influence voters.

    I'm so sick of abortion and medicare being blamed for every fart a republican lets.

    April 8, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  19. Fed Up

    Obama would deserve that boost. After all, he cancelled a trip to Indiana. Must have been a big letdown for him to have to stay in town and do some work for once in his term. He deserves that boost as much as he deserved the Nobel Prize.

    April 8, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  20. Angus

    Rove is hard core party line and not Tea Party. He is big business and the Tea Party can influence the republicans to represent the people just as they die "Boner" when they saw he was going to cave to Obama and Reed lack of desire to reduce spending at all.

    April 8, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  21. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    True Mr. Rove, a government shutdown could boost President Obama popularity and improve his chances of a landslide victory. But just think of the satisfaction the Republican Taliban will get from doing it!! It's like the Republicans KNOW it's not good to have anonymous sex with gay men in public airport restrooms...but the thrill just makes it all worthwhile...like shutting down the government...right??

    April 8, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  22. Leslie in Colorado

    Karl Rove is rarely right about anything but he is definately right on the money with this prediction: Obama will gain unstoppable strength for his re-election campaign. Once and for all, it will show what a strong President he is. Go Obama!

    April 8, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  23. Name king

    Carl what are you sipping, you know you guys don't have any more moderate repugs in congress, so who are you really trying to communicate with. These people live for a government shut down, and neither you or any any moderate republicans left, "since boner is sucking up to the lunatic right so much", they will not allow you or any dem to rain on their government shut down parade.

    April 8, 2011 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  24. Ron

    You see, it's not about what's good for the country. To Republicans it's all about defeating Obama. It has been from day one.
    Their leadership has said straight out, "number one priority–defeat Obama." So, strategize, lie repeatedly about Obama being a socialist, or lie repeatedly about his citizenship, or try to figure out: if we shut the government down, will it help Obama or will it defeat him? I'm not even a big fan of Obama. But these Republicans have no integrity–no shame.

    April 8, 2011 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  25. Whammybar

    Typical, focusing his efforts on political games rather than coming up with solutions to the budget or the many other problems that need solved. Doesn't matter if the country is in trouble, just elect a republican and make the democrats look bad. Go away Carl !
    Carl, when you are elected to office you work for the PEOPLE, not your party. Fix the budget, stop the wars, Home the homeless, Save Social Security, bring manufacturing back to US soil. Stop playing power games. You are not called to public service to obtain control, you are called to serve the public.

    April 8, 2011 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
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