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Rove speaks at UMW

Republican political strategistĀ and former George Bush adviser Karl Rove was the Fredericksburg Forum speaker at the University of Mary Washington tonight.

Rove, a longtime political operative before running George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns and joining the Bush administration, talked about a variety of topics, ranging from his views of the current Republican presidential candidates to how engaged Bush was as a president.

We’ve covered most of his comments about the 2012 presidential election in a story that ran in Monday’s paper:

and in the story from the speech that will run in Thursday’s paper. (The short version: Rove says Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are probably ahead, but if New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gets into the race that could change. Any Republican candidate will have to provide a reasonable opposition to Obama and also offer workable, realistic solutions to the country’s problems. And Virginia will be a big player, and the state should expect to see a lot of the candidates, their ads, and their pollsters next year).

Rove spoke for about half an hour and took questions for another 45 minutes. Here are some of his comments on other topics.

Rove talked about America’s current fiscal challenges, rattling off statistics about the national deficit, the unemployment rate, and President Barack Obama’s low approval numbers. He said the original stimulus “hasn’t worked, and the American people are asking why,” and he thinks it’s because the stimulus depended on an unrealistically high expectation of government dollars creating private-sector dollars.

Rove criticized Obama’s current jobs plan, especially Obama’s call for high-income taxpayers to pay more in taxes. Rove said high-income people already pay the majority of income taxes, and that Obama’s proposal pits people against each other “based on the size of their wallets.”

He spoke at length of Obama’s health care plan, saying that it is one of the rare major programs that has become less popular after passed, rather than more popular.

Rove said he’s been approached about joining one of the 2012 campaigns, but isn’t interested. He said he can “do more” where he is (Rove current is a commentator on Fox News, writes for the Wall Street Journal, and is involved with two large PACs that want to raise $250 million to spend on elections next year).

On immigration, Rove said Senators Harry Reid and Obama helped derail a Bush proposal on immigration reform, and that the system is still broken. A fix must allow immigrant workers for industries that need the manpower, while improving the U.S. economy and placing a value on citizenship.

On term limits: Rove is against them, because he said he’s seen how they worked in states that instituted them. The result was a loss of seniority and experience, and an increase of power among bureaucrats. Instead of term limits, he said, Congress ought to be paid less and spend less time in Washington. He also said Virginia should eliminate its one-term-at-a-time limit on the Virginia governor (who can only run for a second term if he sits out a term first).

Asked what a good president needs to be, Rove joked that he should be “somebody very skilled at prayer.” He also said a president needs to be comfortable making hard decisions and not second-guessing himself, “because otherwise it’ll eat them alive.” The president needs to be comfortable being told he’s wrong, and make it comfortable for the people around him to tell him that. Rove said George W. Bush was good at that, encouraging people in his administration to feel comfortable disagreeing with him (and with other people in the administration).