Politics & Government

On book tour, Rove slams Obama and defends Bush

FORT WORTH, Texas — Former White House adviser Karl Rove said the Democratic-led health care plan on the table in Congress is not the way to meet the country's needs.

Rove, a Republican, said the plan would divert money from Social Security and Medicare and ultimately put the country in debt.

"This is the absolute wrong solution for our country," Rove told a crowd of about 400 Tuesday at a World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth lunch at the Fort Worth Club. "We can't afford it.

"All this funny money stuff they are doing . . . it's going to bankrupt the country," he said. "This bill will utterly change America."

Rove was in Fort Worth promoting his latest book, Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, which details some of his days as a senior adviser to former President George W. Bush.

Before the lunch, Rove attended a VIP gathering, mingling and signing books for those including local attorney Dee Kelly, the former president's nephew George P. Bush, former House Speaker Gib Lewis and actress Janine Turner, known for a starring role on TV's Northern Exposure.

At the luncheon, he was introduced by local attorney Rice Tilley, who described Rove as "a superb political analyst . . . and what we say in Texas is a darned nice guy."

In his speech, as in his book, Rove talked of his days spent mostly "15 steps from the Oval Office."

Saying he wanted to "set the record straight," he defended Bush.

Rove said that on 9/11, he notified Bush of what was happening. Rove said Bush understood it after seeing the second plane strike the World Trade Center.

"'We are at war,'" Rove recalled Bush saying.

When they returned to Washington, D.C., flying between two F-16s, Rove said they looked out the window and saw the plane that had crashed into the Pentagon.

"'Take a look — you're looking at the face of war in the 21st century,'" Rove recalled Bush saying.

Rove said he should have better defended Bush's belief that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Rove said Bush believed that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, that the administration believed so and that even some Democrats believed so.

"He wanted us to think he had them," Rove said of Saddam. That way, Saddam hoped, his neighbors — and the United States — might leave him alone. "It kept him safe," Rove said.

At the time, Rove blamed Democrats for making an issue of the lack of weapons of mass destruction, but he said Tuesday that he should have addressed the issue better. "It was a dagger aimed at the heart of the presidency and . . . it cost us," Rove said.

Read more of this story at Star-Telegram.com