The 2016 presidential races in the Republican and Democratic parties will be truncated – starting Feb. 1, 2016 and likely over with by the end of March, so says Karl Rove, a “political guru” and top aide to former GOP President George W. Bush.
Rove, who graduated from Olympus High School and spent two years at the University of Utah in the early 1970s, was the keynote speaker at the 6th annual pre-legislative conferenceFriday sponsored by the Exoro Group and Zions Bank.
As a Texas-based political consultant, Rove also worked on Utah U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races in Utah in the 1980s and 90s before hitching his rising star to Bush – first when he won the Texas governor’s office, then U.S. presidency from 2000 to 2008.
Rove now runs a well-known SuperPAC, appears on Fox News as a commentator and writes a column for the Wall Street Journal – which he said Friday gives him the most pleasure these days.
There may be as many as 25 legitimate GOP presidential candidates over the next 12 months, Rove said.
But don’t look for the intra-party blood bath seen in 2012, for several reasons.
First, the National Republican Party has decided there will only be nine GOP presidential primary debates.
Two years ago there were 26, and the contenders (Mitt Romney ultimately won the nomination) just cut each other up.
Back when Bush won is first presidential nomination, the Iowa caucuses were in early January. “We had drunk people” still hung over from New Year’s Eve coming to vote, he remembered.
There are other RNC new rules – like states that hold their presidential primaries or caucuses after Iowa have disproportionate delegate numbers.
The “big states” will hold their primaries towards the end of March, and while some pundits believe the GOP nomination could drag on into June, Roves says not.
Because of the truncated primary season, candidates will have to be more “real.”
That means, says Rove, there won’t be two hours to pull a candidate aside and coach him or her on an embarrassing media question.
“Smart people (the consultants like him) won’t have 24 hours to go in the back room and tell the not-so-smart people (the candidates) this is what you need to say and how you need to say it.”
Candidates will have to talk off the cuff, and it should be great politics and great entertainment.
Mitt Romney, Utah’s adopted favorite son, may run for president again, said Rove.
But to be successful, Romney will have to let American voters see more of his real self.
At heart, Romney was a reticent candidate, as was Sen. John McCain, R-Az., in 2008.
And you can’t win the presidency that way, said Rove.
In a 2016 run, Romney would have to “really share himself, and defend himself against” the kind of attacks made against him in 2012.
“If he had done both before, he might be president” today, said Rove. “If he does it, he could (win).”
Come 2016 it will take $10 million to $15 million in a GOP candidate’s war chest to be considered a serious candidate “and get a seat at the table” during 2015.
It will take $25 million to $30 million to carry a campaign up to the first of 2016.
And key will be to have statewide campaign organizations in states where primaries will follow the first four contests – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
Joking, Rove said you can’t find a better, more true, cross section of America than those four states.
“We’re stuck with them. I don’t like it,” but that’s how it is.
On the international scene, Rove said Saudi Arabia has decided to let the price of oil just drop, and drop until U.S. shale oil can’t be economically produced.
While that is great for most Americans, it will hurt energy producing states, like Texas.
But dropping oil prices could kill Russia, and President Vladimir Putin.
Putin could become discombobulated, and then the question is whether he retreats from his aggressive foreign policy or becomes even more of a threat.
Anyway, dropping oil prices “really screws Putin, and I’d like to do that.”
Republicans won’t win the presidency in 2016 unless they can – through governing in both houses of Congress – show the American people they can get things done on tax reform, education policies, trade and a number of other important issues.
If Republicans shut down the government, fail to pass realistic budgets and just spend time bashing Democratic President Barack Obama, then they can lose the White House in the next election.