Rove warns Republicans: Shutdown could boost Obama
April 8th, 2011
08:56 AM ET
4 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. Ron

    Everything is a calculation. Will it help Obama or hurt Obama. If the Republicans thought they could defeat Obama by destroying the country, they would do it. Actually they may be pretty close.

    April 8, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  2. Wow...

    Even the blind squirrel finds a nut... Karl Rove has made a lucid factual point for once in a very long time..

    April 8, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  3. Edd

    Hey Karl: Hell called, you are needed back there!

    April 8, 2011 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  4. GonzoinHouston

    It's not often I agree with Karl Rove, but he's right about this one. With any luck, most of the voters' ire will be directed at the TP's, who will probably be out dancing in the streets if there's a shut down. If the TP's are weakened enough, saner republicans will no longer need to fear them, and then said republicans can make a deal with the democrats and resolve this mess.

    April 8, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  5. gt

    this isnt 1990 "s... americans have been thru hell the last 2 yrs , with the resession and 2 wars... we are not a bunch of cream puffs....cut spending or shut it down....

    April 8, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  6. Seneca

    The great thing is that when Republicans act like republicans they loose everytime.

    April 8, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  7. Steve in Denver

    So typical of rove and the republican leadership. Screw the consequences of what we do, just do what is most likely to defeat Obama. How do you all sleep at night knowing that starting tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of clerical level people will be out of work because you want tax cuts and to be able to beat Obama.

    April 8, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. jamarsu

    Good then shut it down. These repugs deserve it. They've done nothing but bash our President since he first got in.

    April 8, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. Now thats progress - NOT!

    Wow! An unexpected voice in the wilderness of stupidity. Sorry Rove but it is too little too late. You and the rest of the republican party have been pandering and sucking up to the 60,000 – 100,000 odd members of the tea party for about 3 years and now the bill has become due. All that is left is the destruction and finger pointing.

    Here is my prediction. 5 years from now the tea party will go the way of Ross Perot's party (remember that one). I actually think it will only take two years but I am being kind. During the government shutdown people will see the tea party republicans for what they really are: a bunch of obstructionist who don't want to get things done. It's their way or the highway. Guess what. America doesn't work that way anymore. All you have to do is look at Crazy Sarah Palin. She went from the cover of Time and Newsweek about 2 years ago to obscurity now. The same thing is going to happen to the tea party.

    Another news flash for republicans. Even in the republican party (I was a die hard republican once) abortion is a non starter. We have bigger problems in America today than caring about this nonsense. Stop pandering to the Family Research council or whatever wacko group is screaming from the right wing. Pay attention to the middle and you will get the independent vote (me) and will elect a republican president.

    Go ahead republicans. Let the tea party flush your hopes and dreams down the toilet. I hope you all enjoy the ride together.

    April 8, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. dlh in Texas

    Save Our Country, OBAMA-BIDEN 2012, HILLIRAY CLINTON 2016

    April 8, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  11. GOP = Greed Over People

    Funny, not once does rat face Rove mention the financial damage done to millions of American workers, both contractors and government employees, it is still all about seeing President Obama "fail".

    The GOP does not want the government to shut down because it may raise President Obama's ratings and to hell with the poor and middle class impacted by this political plot, as we are all just considered "collateral damage" in their fascist agenda.

    April 8, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. Whammybar

    Oh yeah, if you think that serving your country menas making sure that republicans are in control, your wrong.

    April 8, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  13. Obama 2012

    Why is that? Because people will finally see that Republicans don't care one bit about middle class people?

    April 8, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  14. Grundoon

    How can you take the GOP seriously about spending when they refuse to cut their pet projects, defense spending in which there is already enormous watse for jut one example. And why should they care about gov't workers who aren't going to be paid but congress still is. If they shut it down they still get paid. Between what the GOP controlled house is doing and what the GOP governors are doing all over to public employes, the GOP is setting themselves up for the bigges defeat they have ever seen in 2012. So far their jobs program seems to be to get rid of them and cut pay for those that still have a job. To those that voted for these jerks in, and to those that stayed home on election day, way to go – N O T !

    April 8, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  15. Sgt. Joe.

    Oh hooray, the big oinker is back! Can't keep a big mouth down. Does't Beck have a part for him on his next gig?

    April 8, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  16. BeanerECMO

    The only reason Rove is doing that is because he making the same mistake he always has – he's never gotten ahead in the PR game to keep hammering home who really is the cause of this stalemate. He'll keep making these dire predictions because he's afraid of his own shadow. Irrespective that the legacy media carries BHO's and the dems' water, the republicants (sic) have to get in front of the cameras and mics as often as they can and keep hammering on the slacker dems dragging their feet.

    April 8, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  17. HJA

    The Repubs are not even trying to conceal the fact they support the rich. Every cut, every proposal is targeted at low income and middle class. Their cuts mirror the the money they gave to the top money makers. I can only hope in the next election they get destroyed.

    April 8, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  18. Sandra, Atl

    Rove, it's all about politics with you and whatever you can do to hold onto power. What about the American people, soldiers and their families, etc. who will be devastated. And all because of some Tea Party nuts who think they must prove that their stick is bigger than the rest of the American public. And pray tell, what does eliminating a woman's right to chose have to do with a budget debate? The federal government already doesn't fund abortions. These people and the politicians who cave into them all the time make me more disgusted every day. We all know we need to reduce the deficit but where on the table are things like reducing subsidies to big oil and other special interests who get money they don't deserve? Where is that??????????

    April 8, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. Erik in Iowa City

    "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."

    Thanks, Rove. Give me another reason to never vote for a Republican.

    April 8, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  20. Jess C

    Typical, let's worry about the election and votes rather than what's right for the country! What a tool this fool is. Why are so many fooled by the GOP? Please, vote for your best interests, middle class!

    April 8, 2011 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. russ

    The concern is that a shutdown will strengthen the President's numbers? What about the millions of Americans who will be adversely affected? Do we not count? Does he speak for conservatives?

    April 8, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  22. beevee

    This guy should shut up at this moment and let the administrators in power duke it out. I dont' think they care about the people who elected them. It should be a lesson for those who gave them the power in the mid-term elections no to make the mistake again.;

    April 8, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. Ted

    Perhaps a government shutdown is just what we need to get the country thinking about who we have elected to these positions of law making and finance reform. Maybe this will wake us up to all the nonpartisan politics that seems to constantly go on. We were the UNITED STATES, but I see nothing united about where all this is going!

    April 8, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. Seraphim0

    I love how his primary concern isn't fixing the mess... but preventing a re-election. Nice set of priorities.

    April 8, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. willie floyd

    Stay the heck out of it Rove! Let the Reps. bury themselves-they'll do the country a favor.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    April 8, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
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