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. al in memphis

    Forget the rating, this is not about the president or some reelection. It's the job of congress to develop a budget, and they are not doing their job. Stop lying to people that your are concern about reducing the budget if you are not going to ask people across the board to contribute in a fair manner. That means 2/3 spending cuts and 1/3 revenue recovery like Obama has been talking about. You don't get there in one month, but you can put a plan in place that gets you over a few years.
    When people paid too much for their house and lost it foreclosure, people call that irresponsible. When a government starts two wars without financing it, gives incentives for companies to move jobs overseas, has a tax structure that favors companies not paying any taxes, we call that patriotic.

    April 8, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  2. Dennis

    Mr.Potato head(Karl Rove) has to spill his rhetoric to try and regroup the days past as in the Bush era.Republicans need to be reminded that their way of thinking is archaic and what the American public needs.Intelligent people know otherwise.

    April 8, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  3. Bill

    The difference this time is that its now combined with state level union busting. Republicans are on track for losing the House next year! They are doomed to repeat history as they've obviously not learned from it.

    April 8, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. Marc

    When do any of these guys ever talk about what's good for the nation instead of what's good for their party?

    April 8, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. reacharound

    Rove's right,have you noticed how quite Newt gingrich has been about the shutdown? And I do mean has been.

    April 8, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  6. Edward

    "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.” The economy Is improving and the unemployment rate is falling. Should this continue independents will have no problem voting for Obama in 2012. The budget deficit and healthcare reform are essentially fringe issues and the GOP will not have any policies to take issue with that will appeal to independent voters. Sure if you poll people and ask them if they think that the government is spending too much they aren't going to say no, the question is do they feel passionately enough about the issue to vote on it and the answer to that question is that those that do are already voting republican and have been for years. Also, just to note, those same republican voters have been voting for record breaking overspenders like Reagan and Bush for years. Reagan the tax increasing, record deficit spending, giving illegal immigrants the right to emergency room care president is the conservative republican icon. That should tell you how much of a partisan issue all of this is. Republicans don't mind spending, they just don't like the programs that most government spending is going to.

    April 8, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. High Way

    The American people should rewrite their constitution. They should change the line that starts with "We the people..." to "We the Republicans..." then it will make sense when a replublican speaks.

    April 8, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. ConservaFascists/FUBAR

    A shutdown doesn't help anyone.

    April 8, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. john

    I for one will blame the GOP for the shutdown, because they attached social issues to the budget

    April 8, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  10. Independent

    Glad to see Rove's priorities are in order over the shutdown. Worried about an election more than a year and a half away, rather than the impacts of a governmnet shutdown.

    April 8, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  11. Alise Baldwin

    I disagree with Mr. Rove. As a military spouse and mother of three soldiers, we know who to blame. Obama and a democratic congress. I will not blame Republicans for trying to get a budget passed; however, I will blame Democrats who should have had a budget in place. I will blame Obama for having no respect for our military and for breaking the backs of hard working Americans by treating us like a cash cow. Further, not paying military at any time is perverse but during a time of war, not paying military is incorrigible. We will not forget.

    April 8, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  12. Josh B. OHIO

    Good ol' turd blossom coaching from the sidelines.
    Of course, it's a little too late for that.

    April 8, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  13. Femi Patrias

    What is Rove doing talking sense to Republics? He is also been saying birthers amongst them could hurt Republics chances? Hmmm ... has he turned Democrat?

    April 8, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  14. jersvette

    I don't like Karl Rove's tactics but he is one of the very few republicans that knows what he is talking about. I wish the democrats had a Karl Rove in their corner.

    April 8, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  15. George

    Rove the Toad. Only thinks about which party is gaining an advantage...... not about what is best for the country. Is this surprising coming from a traitor and war profiteer?

    April 8, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. Texas Dem

    This may be the first time I EVER agree with prince of darkness himself Karl Rove. Perception is likely to be that the republicans were the ones responsible for the shutdown, which will not help them with any demographic except maybe the TEA party.

    April 8, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  17. Joe The Plumber

    If the saying "Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result" has any meriit, then the GOP is about to make the same mistake as 1995. And worse, makes the case that they are insane.

    April 8, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  18. Jay

    I am so tired of all the posturing by Democrats and Republicans alike! Why can't we actually get LEADERS without self serving agendas who want to do what is BEST for those of us who ACTUALLY PAY TAXES those of us who don't get back more money than we pay into the system. And btw if the Congress takes paychecks during a shutdown they are HYPOCRITS and regardless of your party affiliation they shouldn't get your vote the next time.

    April 8, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  19. Lee

    This article proves the point that Republicans only care about elections and political points. Wow! With the unemployment at 8.8%, wouldn't all the cuts increase the unemployment numbers. Hmm! With things getting better, Republicans want to make things worse so they can blame President Obama and win 2012.

    April 8, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  20. Patrick Lewis

    Typical. It's just a political football to him and the GOP. Nothing about how these cuts aim to hurt poor people while letting the rich keep their tax breaks. Nothing about equity. Nothing about how this budget will harm our recovery, just about how it will affect the election of bad people who want to destroy America. What a turd.

    April 8, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. Rsprings

    Hmmm. Well he hasn't shown much leadership on this matter. While the ship is sinking we'll just keep bailing with a small bucket. When the water (debt) his over our head we'll drown in it.

    April 8, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  22. Ancient Texan

    When the Democrats fail to even present a budget for 2010 and could have and should have passed one into law last year before the November elections with their super majorities in both houses of the legislature, how is it the Republicans or Tea Party's fault if the governmant is shut down? This was all planned as a 2012 election ploy by the Democrats for political purposes. They refuse to cut spending of money we don't have and only want to win re-election regardless of how much this insanity hurts the nation.

    April 8, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  23. Ramesh Shrestha

    When the country is going through tumultous times and season of uncertainty,all this animal is worried about is Obama's ratings. This bigot does not want our president, and our country for that matter, to succeed. For him and his cronies, it is all about political gains. C'mmon, what is politics for? Is it only for their selfish gain and loss? Isn't it for improving the quality of life of the American people?

    April 8, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  24. Marry

    …Republicans should be careful not to let him recover as he gears up for his 2012 reelection campaign."
    …you don’t say Karl! They should work to make Government work and to serve the people not to concentrate on “making the President fail!” But, what does one expect from the “No! – Hell No” GOP/TP? Solutions? Ideas? What have they done for 98% of the people? Nothing!!!!!!!! Check them out, voters!

    April 8, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  25. Nurse Lisa

    hate to admit it, but Rove is right. Unfortunately the GOP are stuck between a rock and a hard place no matter what they do or fail to do – – caving in on any issue will reap the promised scathing criticism from the Tea Partiers, but blocking a deal over 1/2 of one percent of the budget is both obstructionist and callous and those politicians will suffer the least while the little guys will again suffer the most.They're the "Party of No win."

    April 8, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
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