As tensions mount between Israel and Iran, political strategist Karl Rove says Americans would likely “rally around” President Barack Obama if an Israeli attack against Tehran's nuclear program happens before the presidential election Nov. 6.
Asked Thursday night during an appearance on Fox News’ “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” if Israeli military action could have an impact on the Obama-Mitt Romney election, Rove acknowledged that the president would probably "benefit in the polls."
“Traditionally, when we have national security crises in an election, there’s a rally around the flag effect, where people say — regardless of my party affiliation — it's time for us to stand with our president,” Rove said. “So if there was a military action between now and November, in all likelihood, people would stand — would rally — around the president, and . . . President Obama would benefit in the polls.”
But Rove quickly added that he does not believe the Israelis or the United States are “calculating their attitudes towards Iran . . . with eye to the American election.”
“Publicly, we don’t know," Rove said, when an attack might occur. But he noted that it would likely be some time before the situation with Iran’s nuclear program reaches a point where the Israelis — with or without direct American involvement — decide to strike.
“Look, this fissile material is being prepared at several sites around [Iran],” Rove said. “At some time, it’s going to have to be brought to a central site in order to be machined into a weapon or weapons. And that’s going to be the moment of vulnerability.
“If you strike now, before that material is brought together, then you’re only going to get part of it.” Rove continued. “They’ve got to wait until it’s brought together. Hopefully, somebody knows when it’s being brought together and where it’s being brought together. And if the Israelis need to strike, that’s the moment to strike.”
Commenting on the presidential race, Rove also said he believes Romney has strengthened his credentials as a viable alternative to Obama by adding Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to the Republican ticket.
“The vice president matters more to what people's perceptions are of the presidential candidate, and this will help Mitt Romney over the long haul,” Rove said, describing Ryan’s pick as “a bold move” on Romney’s part.
With Ryan — the House Budget Committee chairman and leading authority among Republicans on tax and spending issues now at this side — he said Romney “has clearly signaled he intends to make the campaign about deficits and debt, and spending, and putting our fiscal house in order.”
“And he’s got one of the most passionate, effective advocates for reform of our entitlement system, and of our budget system, and of pro-growth policies in the entire U.S. House of Representatives in the form of Paul Ryan,” Rove added.
Rove, a Fox News contributor and founder of super PAC Crossroads GPS, said it’s “hard to measure the bounce,” though, that the GOP ticket will get with Ryan. But what really matters, he said, “is the trajectory of the ticket, and this is going to help the trajectory of the ticket.”
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