Karl Rove: Hillary's Taking Risks By Distancing Herself From Obama

Image: Karl Rove: Hillary's Taking Risks By Distancing Herself From Obama (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/Landov)

Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 04:11 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Republican guru Karl Rove believes that Hillary Clinton may be making a costly mistake by attempting to distance herself from the failed foreign policy of President Barack Obama.

The GOP strategist noted in a commentary for The Wall Street Journal that the former secretary of state's veiled criticism of Obama's Middle East measures comes as she lays the groundwork for a possible run as the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.

"Moving away from Mr. Obama may look good on paper, but it may not work so well," wrote Rove, the former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

"For one thing, Mrs. Clinton cannot point to any notable successes during her State Department tenure. If she developed a strategy that was more than the laughable 'reset' button she used to mend U.S. relations with Russia, it escaped public view. Distancing herself from the president's foreign policy also underscores her failure to persuade Mr. Obama to act otherwise."

In an interview with The Atlantic, Clinton blamed the president for ISIS's power grab in Iraq and Syria, saying that while she supported aiding and arming the rebels in war-torn Syria, Obama was not in favor of the plan, creating a vacuum that was filled by violent ISIS jihadists.

Rove, founder of the political action committee American Crossroads, also pointed out that the former first lady had "made it clear" she would be tougher on the Iranian nuclear program, again appearing to show a rift with the president.

"Then she added a wicked jab," Rove wrote. "Playing off the president's earlier quip that his approach to foreign policy is 'Don't do stupid s---,' she said, 'Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."

He continued, "Mrs. Clinton is calculating that she must separate herself from the president she served because voters increasingly see him as inept and weak. She argues that she is a foreign-policy Goldilocks, balanced between the frontier rambunctiousness of Mr. Obama's predecessor and the erudite timidity of Mr. Obama."

But Rove says, in fact, Hillary may actually only be separating herself from the Democratic base by angering her own supporters and administration loyalists, such as former Obama adviser David Axelrod, who tweeted that her decision to back the Iraq war in the first place was "a tragically bad decision."

Rove also drew a parallel between Clinton's shift away from Obama to that of Vice President Hubert Humphrey's difficulty in distancing himself in 1968 from an unpopular President Lyndon Baines Johnson, "and he suffered because of it."

"It was not until a nationally televised address, when he broke completely with LBJ over the Vietnam War, that he felt he got his campaign back on track. But it was too little, too late, and Humphrey lost to Richard Nixon.

"While she is starting her distancing earlier, in some respects, Mrs. Clinton faces a greater challenge than Humphrey did in 1968."

Rove concluded by saying, "A gifted politician might be able to pull off what she is attempting, but she is hardly that talented. It's more likely that she will fail to win over many of Mr. Obama's critics as she alienates many of his supporters, making her road to the nomination and White House more difficult."


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