Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland was unexpectedly thrown on defense Sunday morning by Republican strategist Karl Rove, who turned the Democrat’s argument against Chris Christie around by pointing out Strickland’s own issues with misbehaving staff.
Strickland was sent by his party’s powers-that-be to shadow the New Jersey Republican governor on a fundraising trip to Chicago earlier this week. The former Democratic governor attacked Christie over his aides’ behavior in the George Washington Bridge scandal, claiming that “either the governor knew and he is lying, or he is the most inept, incompetent chief executive imaginable.”
Strickland doubled down on that language during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. “I cannot believe that a governor — and I’ve been one, I’ve had a close staff and we’ve worked together on a daily basis — why didn’t he ask [Bridget Kelly] why she sent that email and try to figure out why and who told her to do that?” he told Chris Wallace.
But Rove was ready with a blast from the past for Strickland. “I think the Democrats would be better off picking another voice to go after Governor Christie,” he began. “Let’s go back to 2008 and Joe the Plumber. Governor Strickland’s own appointee, as head of the employment commission, was found to have been accessing confidential government databases in order to find out confidential information — private information — and leaking it to the press?”
“Now is Governor Strickland, to adopt his standard, either incompetent or lying simply because it was his appointee who did these things?” Rove asked. “Let’s step back and look at this, let the process go forward, and be careful to throw stones like Governor Strickland is throwing at Governor Christie.”
Strickland shifted into defense, denying confidential information was leaked and that he fired the parties responsible. “Things happen, you hold people responsible — and Governor Christie has held Bridget Kelly responsible — but we still do not know who told Bridget Kelly to do what she did.”
“Well, who told your employment commissioner to do what she did?” Rove retorted. “And she did leak confidential information. Damaging information about Joe the Plumber was leaked to the press.”
Joe the Plumber was a central figure in the 2008 presidential election, embarrassing then-candidate Barack Obama by questioning his plans on taxation and wealth redistribution.
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