Karl Rove On Trump: ‘I’m Not Certain How Much Of A Movement He’s Created’

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Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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Karl Rove doesn’t believe Donald Trump’s candidacy is an existential threat to the GOP.

Rove explained how envisions the Republican Party will come together in an event of a Trump loss in November on “The Jamie Weinstein Show” podcast, where the Republican strategist also discussed the changing media landscape, Monday’s Republican presidential debate, the books that have most influenced him and much more.


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Show Map:

  • Rove grades Monday’s debate (4:54)
  • Rove’s bizarre tale about how he once unintentionally got under Hillary Clinton’s skin (9:01)
  • Rove on the state of the presidential race (13:19)
  • Rove explains how the media landscape has changed (21:10)
  • What happens to GOP if Trump loses? (27:27)
  • Rove on Ted Cruz endorsement of Trump (37:38)
  • How to be the next Karl Rove (42:10)
  • Rove on the writers he reads and the books that influenced him (54:34)

Though some believe the Republican Party is fractured between those who oppose Donald Trump’s candidacy, those who reluctantly support him and those who passionately stand with him, Rove believes the party can mend itself after the election.

“Do you think feelings were hot after 1964?” he asked. “Do you think feelings were hot after, you know, 1976? And we somehow came together. And it will require leadership. It will not happen totally until we select our next nominee in 2020 if we were to lose this election.”

“But I think we would see apart of it in 2018 in the governors races and in the Senate races,” he added, saying how quickly the Republican Party becomes competitive again in the aftermath of a Trump defeat depends in part on whether the GOP gets behind competent, electable candidates in 2018 instead of unelectable gaffe machines in the mold of failed Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin.

As for Trumpism, Rove doesn’t think Trump will leave a lasting movement behind should he lose.

“If he were to lose, I’m not certain how much of a movement he’s created,” Rove said.

“Think about 1964,” he went on. “When Barry Goldwater lost, in the aftermath of that, there were dozens of state Republican chairmen and scores of national committee members — an absolute majority of the national committee — who were passionate, committed conservatives who shared Barry Goldwater’s vision of a conservative party. There were hundreds of county chairman and tens of thousands of volunteers who filled positions in the Republican Party who were committed to that vision. I don’t sense a Trump organization.”

“You know, there are a few state chairmen who are for Trump,” he continued. “There is no Trump movement that is burrowing itself in to the leadership of the Republican Party and grabbing control of organs of opinion, converting party leaders to their viewpoint as we saw in the Democratic Party after 1972 and the Republican Party after 1964.”

Rove says he does believe, however, that the GOP will need to address the concerns of Trump supporters “without surrendering our traditional conservative principles” in the event of a Trump loss.

Rove would not say who he plans to vote for in November, preferring to describe himself as a “dispassionate observer.”

“Thank God we have a secret ballot,” he quipped.

Rove said he believes Trump’s chances of winning the election stand somewhere between 30 and 40 percent at this point.

Comparing this presidential election to the ones he masterminded for George W. Bush, Rove said he sees a changing media landscape where a single site like The Drudge Report can no longer dominate the conversation.

“Drudge has a following. But the interesting thing was in 2000, 2004, how many Drudges were there?” Rove asked. “Now we’ve got lots of sites. You know, we’ve got The Daily Caller, we’ve got the Signal, we’ve got Breitbart.com.”

“Twitter is huge,” he went on. “We have Snapchat increasingly being the main means of communication among millennials.”

Americans have “lots of opportunities for going to different sites, whereas we used to almost always go to Drudge,” he said.

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