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

    I'm think President Obama is showing his weakness dealing with the budget, but I am more afraid of the Tea Party's involvement. I see them very narrow minded in wanting their way and not caring if the Government shuts down or not. I see them as not caring what happens to us, the people, as long as they get their way. I think it is a shame that Speaker Boehner is not leading and is being led by the Tea Party or Freshmen Congressmen.

    April 8, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  2. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Obama, like Clinton, is trying to get the parties together to get something done. The problem is that there are many different policy riders that the GOP has thrown in that don't have anything to do with the money or budget. If those ideological parts were left out and put into the next budget, then it would make things go faster. I think that Boehner is getting held up by those so called "tea party" people who don't really understand the full scope of government.

    April 8, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Not All Docs Play Golf

    Ah, Karl Rove, the nerd with the softest hands. Never a callous on Karl. Even going to college was too much effort, so he quit. And now he had advice for anyone?

    April 8, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. Meyer C. Dhoates

    Carl Rove running scared. That's the best news I've heard today.

    April 8, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  5. Edwin in Coralville IA

    Recover? His is in fine shape, Rove...

    April 8, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  6. anagram_kid

    Yes Carl, remind everyone that Republican’s primary focus should be causing the downfall of the duly elected President of the United States. I wonder how many jobs the shutdown will create?

    April 8, 2011 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  7. a in austin

    Your words came too late. The party of no showed their ugly hand. It's not about the budge but all about their right wing of the party, one of which boner has no control of. Ask Rep. Pence – he's jumping for joy as is bachmann. The tp caucas gave a standing ovation to the speaker – no more bullying. The agreement was there for the budget cuts, just not the riders that went with it. Again, the party of no trying to sneak their ideas through....even holding the military hostage.

    April 8, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  8. Suzanne

    Right. Because naturally, it should be politicians' first concern about who is in charge later down the road. Not the state of the country right now – no, that's the second major concern. Or maybe the third.

    April 8, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  9. HSNP

    Let's hope history repeats itself. Republicans just aren't too smart.

    April 8, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  10. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    Using the budget crisis as a lever to advance anyone's political agenda is morally wrong, be it a bid for reelection or a bid to cancel funding to vital health programs like Planned Parenthood.

    The evilness that characterizes many of the Republican legislative leaders is shown in their callous disregard for the welfare of the least among us. They posture and bellow about the cost of government while quietly accepting their $174,000 salary (or more–the Speaker of the House receives $223,500) which, by the way, is not interrupted during the shutdown. They leech upon the backs of honest, hardworking Americans while living in relative luxury. The failure is theirs.

    April 8, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  11. MarineDad

    Well, it stands to reason. The House and Senate have to first come to an agreement.

    The President is above the fray, and rakes in tremendous amount of goodwill if the government closes, and his ratings go up.
    If it is resolved, the President's ratings go up, because he helped resolve the mess.

    Either way, Republicans are going to get burnt because it is looking like they are hold the country to ransom on social issues like Planned Parenthood, and PBS. Both of which together don't make a dent.

    The question to Republicans is whether they are willing to let military families go without paychecks so that they can get some planned parenthood issue rammed down the nation's throat at such high costs?

    Social issues like Planned Parenthood, Gay Rights, Ten Commandments can be argued and debated, but not as something that will wreck the country.

    The withholding money to PBS is also strange. Most American kids grew up with Sesame Street and the excellent science shows like Nova on PBS. Yes, the Republicans and the Tea Party hate PBS...... but this seems like revenge for the Conservatives!

    It's a crying shame.

    April 8, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  12. LA, LA, LA

    Rove & Christie are two Wiggly Piggletts!

    April 8, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  13. SayWhat

    I cannot wait until this weasle is no longer playing his dirty little games behind the scene of GOP politics. But of course by then the GOP will have promoted one of their weasles-in-trianing to take his place.

    April 8, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  14. mtrought

    Yes, Rove that is so true. But it is for the right reasons because you knuckle head GOP ALWAYS fail to see the light of day at least u seem to be the one eye king in the blind kingdom

    April 8, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  15. GetOverIt

    Turd Blossom speaks wisely.

    April 8, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. Bob Dog

    This is wonderful entertainment. What can be more fulfilling that to see Karl Rove, the Adolph Eichmann of the republican party, throw his own party under the bus with a statement like this.

    Of course, he is right. I'm not accusing Rove of being dumb, unlike most of his republican comrades. But by making this statement, Karl is significantly increasing the odds that people all across america will draw the conclusion that republicans are to blame.

    April 8, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. Politicians are Angels and Teachers are now Devils according to the gospel of GOP Tea Party

    Sorry Rove you Tea Party lemmings are holding the American people hostage and they are NOT listening!...President Obama is already locked in for 2012 and he got my donations and my VOTE big time!!!

    go President Obama 2012!!!

    Yes We Can Again!!!!

    April 8, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  18. Chas in Iowa

    Although the last shut down was 16 years ago how come most of the GOP who caused it are still around running their mouths.
    I hope folks tire of the same old GOP tactics and vote all these obstructionists out in 2012 and 2014.
    Boehner and his Tea Party cronies have ruined what was left of the GOP.
    Carl and his private special intrest groups are gonna be pumping some real dollars into the PR campain to explain this away.

    April 8, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  19. James

    If the government shuts down over the Republicans refusal to fund planned parenthood, then of course it would help Obama. The Republicans, as always, are out of touch.

    April 8, 2011 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  20. Johnson

    The Republicans are using this "shutdown" issue to try and satisfy the Tea Party and to discredit Obama. They would have never done this under bush. It is ALL about destroying Obama. The republicans never tried to tackle Health Care, does anyone know why? Obama comes along and succeeds and the republicans don't want to make it better, they want to get rid of it all together, the republicans have no intentions of tackling health care unless it benefits big corporations. The republicans actions from here on out is to do whatever they can to take the presidency, that means they have to destroy Obama, even if it means lying, telling half truths or stopping progress. This behavior is sickening and we are showing to whole world our true colors. We really don't care about our own people but we scream patriotism alllllll the time.

    April 8, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  21. S.positive

    He is already a strong leader and thats why we have no Repubican 2012 contender yet. They are all SCARED...

    April 8, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  22. Truthman

    Dah! Yes, Obama, warts and all, is a strong leader, but then he also has a brain. The GOP have become a party of raving lunatics. They have embraced the Fascist tactic of using democracy in order to dismantle democracy. Now in Wisconsin they are stealing elections (note the fraudulent discovery of votes in the judicial pole). Are we in the process of joining the third world?

    April 8, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Yes, Mr Rove- and that's what Republicans need to be worrying about – the political implication s of a shutdown.
    These talking haeds need to strat thinking of America and it's population before getting re-elected.
    OG, I'm sorry that's the dictionary of a politician- "someon ethat runs for office 365 days a year" my mistake!

    April 8, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  24. Sam

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day. This might actually be the most truthful statement Karl Rove has ever made.

    April 8, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  25. Ex-Republican

    These "so called" tea partiers had better learn that the dog wags the tail, not the other way around. I'm so sick and tired of hearing about them trying to take over the party. We created them and it was us (GOP) that allowed them to fester. They had better learn to support our rep Boehner and all that he does and stop trying to force his hands. It is up to him and the establishment to set our course, not the nut jobs in the tea party.

    That being said, if Sarah chooses not to run, then who would I see about getting a refund?

    April 8, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
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