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

    Are there people who still listen to Rove? He lost credibility with me many years ago. I see Rove's rise to a person with power as being the beginning of a new era in which the Republican Party lowerd their standards. Would we really have all these incompetent, reality show stars running for President if someone like Rove hadn't been praised for the low life politics he brought to the table and are now standards for Republican policy.

    April 8, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  2. Al

    Maybe the wrong people have been chanting "shut it down"!

    April 8, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. Al

    LOL! Well Mr. Rove you allow the Teabbaggers into your party and look what is happening.

    April 8, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  4. Darth Vadik, CA

    At what point Rove, did you find out that Republicans are really not very earned in History?
    Why do yo think they repeat the same mistakes over and over and over and over and over.....

    April 8, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. Jersey Bob

    Government shutdown over the content of 50+ Republican ideological "riders" attached to the budget bill is insane. The basic numbers have already been agreed to. That agreement gives the Republicans pretty much everything they asked for. But ideologs are intractable about their moronic social agenda. The chickens will indeed come home to roost.......

    April 8, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. Jerry

    Instead of issues being discussed and what is actually good for the American people and a reduction in debt, Carl Rove is talking about politics. So once again, instead of concentrating on the Presdient and Congress to do what is right or good or just, in the end it is all about gathering votes. It is all about politics and money and greed. P.S. notice how the congress still gets paid during the shut down. We absolutley have no leadership in Washington D.C.

    April 8, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. Frank

    It is time Washington does what is right for the country!!!! A shutdown might be the right thing to do. Who cares if it benefits the President or not. The country is broke. Cut, cut and more cuts!!! If the Dems don't want to play, shut it down.

    April 8, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  8. I Love George Bush

    I love Karl Rove!

    April 8, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. Sonnie

    I for one don't thing Mr Rove in on track with his statements about a boost to Obama in this case. Obama is going out in
    2012 and it is because all the hope and hype never produced the change he promised.

    April 8, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. rob

    Funny how CNN only highlights anything Carl Rove says when it reflects negatively on Republicans. I guess now he's a genius.

    April 8, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  11. Nurse Lisa

    The GOP can refuse to deal and let the government shutdown, thereby making themselves look worse and foolish again. The GOP can make a deal which helps Obama look like the strong involved leader he is and freaks out the TP. Rove's head being about to explode...priceless.

    April 8, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. Rich

    Karl Rove is a traitor to America. Karl Rove committed an act of treason by revealing the identity of an American spy.

    Treason during wartime is a capital offense.

    Karl Rove must be tried and executed.

    April 8, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  13. kyle

    A shutdown is just another GOP plan to stop the Country from moving forward, "we want Obama to fail."

    April 8, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  14. R Low

    First of all, Rove is a politically savvy pig. But on this he's right, though Obama can boost himself as he's the only upcoming candidate with dignity, compassion, intelligence, good sense and composure. And, as I did in the last election, I will work tirelessly in order to help to get him elected to his 2nd term. The candidates on the other side are right wing zealots. The moderate republican has sold his/her soul to the devil – the tea party- and I hope they will pay dearly in the upcoming election. Where was the TP's when Clinton had a balanced budget? I didn't hear them singing his prasies. Where were they when bush brought this Country to a standstill with a soaring deficiet? I didn't hear their cries for change. Boehner is more worried about his job than the Nation's poor, seniors or military. That's obscene. He should be the first to go in the next election.

    April 8, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  15. Rove's "strategery" is what lost us the Repub control

    Sorry, Rove, I admire you greatly, but appeasement, giving in, being Dem-lites, is NOT what the people want. We want to cut the damn spending..even to just the 2008 levels that were already "unacceptable" and used as an Anti-Repub rallying point by Dems.

    Shut the Feds down, stay on message. The Dems didn't make and pass a budget when they had full control, they punted it down the road to try to make pollitical hay, they are holding the military hostage to the budget process, they think a 2% cut after a 24% rise in spending is "extreme"..


    PJ O'Rourke rightly said something like "giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to a teen boy".

    April 8, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |

    This is the smartest thing that Rove has said in many, many years! The question is "will the Republicans take his advise?"

    April 8, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  17. Darron R. Brown, M.D.

    Mr. Rove is correct. The Republicans are 100% to blame for this debacle, as they were in Newt Gingrich's days. The budget of the U.S. is being held up by a group of right wing individuals who care only for their own ideologies and see little value in accepting the fact that there are many diverse opinions, religions, beliefs in our country.

    April 8, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  18. Dr Matrix

    For once he is right. America knows who controls the money. On top of that they will all still get paid, unlike any other Federal worker, so why should they care. Talk about out of touch with We the People. Also I wonder how all the Tea Partiers will feel about the shut down when they don't get their social security checks and they are refused medical treatment because medicare is shut off.

    April 8, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  19. phoenix86

    I would hope that Americans are not that ignorant and cannot realize that this budget "crisis" is the result of the democrats not being able to pass a budget when the democrats controlled the House and Senate last year.

    Now democrats are willing to cut crime victim assistance programs but not federal funding for abortions. Seems that the democrat M.O. is to shout loudly and wildly and hope that everyone will thus ignore their idiocy.

    April 8, 2011 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. Cisco

    Turdblossom is correct on this one

    April 8, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. ScubaRob

    This sure smells like a bait to trap for Dems from Rove. I do agree GOP will take a hit for this one since Dems have easily agreed to two CRs written by GOP House. Most will agree that public perception see the GOP House as unwilling to compromise even 1%.

    April 8, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. Jim in NM

    Shut it down! Trump is going to prove Obama is not a natural born U.S. citizen unless the Khazar puppet masters have Trump killed first like they eliminated Kennedy when he messed in their sand box. Go Trump!

    April 8, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. DIANA

    Unfortunately they're not listening to you anymore. The Republican's have been taken over by a small group of crazies.

    April 8, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. Jim, MN

    Not a fan of Rove, but he is right this time.

    April 8, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. Lisa Mitchell

    Confirmation of exactly what I have been saying all along. The GOP's one, only and main concern is to destroy Obama at ALL cost, to include you, me and every other American.
    "Republicans should be careful not to let him recover as he gears up for his 2012 reelection campaign."
    Rove is telling his puppets what to do and how to think, based on potential election outcomes, not what is good for our country. I hope Obama has the spine to stand against this extortion! Let them shut the gvmt down, I could actually care less, but I think that Rove is actually correct in his logic......this will put Obama in a different light with many who have lost faith in him!

    April 8, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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