Divisions within the Republican Party are starting to come together, political strategist Karl Rove says, and while the party remains "in a state of flux," he believes the worst is over.
"I think we're past the point of greatest warfare," Rove said Thursday at a Washington forum sponsored by Atlantic media.
The former political adviser to President George W. Bush compared current tea party activism within the GOP to the civil rights movement and anti-war protests of the 1960s, saying the grassroots activists who all but forced the recent government shutdown are demanding and impatient, The Dallas Morning News reported
"It's 'By God, we have to have everything our way,' " said Rove. "That’s problematic for a political party."
Rove was not specific about how he thinks the GOP is beginning to mend the tears in its conservative fabric that were all too evident during October's 16-day government shutdown, precipitated by the attempt to defund Obamacare.
Despite Rove's optimism, the divide between tea party conservatives and incumbent, more-centrist Republicans remains wide. Tea party groups across the country still are mounting challenges to incumbents in their own party, labeling them "RINOs," or Republicans in Name Only.
During the forum, Rove rejected a claim from co-panelist Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster and strategist, that he was to blame for the tea party's growing influence, reports Politico
Greenberg said Rove had appealed to the Republican Party's evangelical base during the Bush elections, which, he claimed, spawned the tea party movement.
“Baloney,” Rove said. “This strategy was not about the base.”
The biggest reason Republicans are suffering politically, Rove stressed, is because the electorate has changed, not because of intra-party divisions.
"The country is becoming less white," Rove said, noting the rise in Latino and African-American voters. "Until those populations economically rise, if they fit in the core pattern, you’re going to have a more Democratic electorate."
He also insisted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could survive the 2016 Republican primaries to win the party's presidential nomination.
“I do think Christie has a way to the nomination. He’s got challenges, but we’ve got 10 people out there thinking about this,” Rove said.
The list, he said, comprises Christie; Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Sen. Ron Paul of Kentucky; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Next year, Rove said, "is going to be a test for every one of these guys. Every one of them has got a certain skill set now. They're about ready to be stretched, and the question is can they rise to it.”
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