Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Karl Rove delivers speech despite protests

By Patrick Hoff

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Justin Surgent/Collegian

Republican strategist Karl Rove scrutinized the current state of the U.S. economy, the federal deficit and the Obama administration Tuesday in the Student Union Ballroom to a crowd that included dozens of vocal protesters.

The 62-year-old former Bush administration official was interrupted multiple times by groups of people who led chants and held signs throughout his speech. Several of the demonstrators were escorted out of the ballroom after multiple warnings were issued to them by Assistant Director of Student Activities and Involvement Lydia Washington.

And, at one point, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, who was seated close to the front of the room at the event, implored the students to “be civil.”

Rove, too, addressed the protesters, raising his voice repeatedly and inviting them to question him during the question and answer period following his speech.

“Why don’t you shut up and wait until the question and answer session and ask your questions,” Rove said at one point. “Are you afraid of having a dialogue?”

Karl Rove Speech Highlights from Daily Collegian on Vimeo.

But despite the protests, Rove was able to continue to speak, focusing much of his speech on the federal deficit and the Affordable Care Act, the health care law signed by President Barack Obama in 2010.

Rove said that under President Obama, the national debt and the rate of spending has increased year after year, and the Affordable Care Act, he said, is part of the reason for that.

Rove also said that under Obama, the deficit has risen and that “the problem with our country today is that we are spending way too much money.”

“You might be OK with this,” he said, “but I don’t think our country should allow it to happen.”  .

Rove added that by 2037, Social Security will be bankrupt and Medicare will be “belly up” by 2024 unless solutions can be found to fix the problems. He proposed an approach to Medicare similar to how Medicare Part D is run, in which every American receives a check for purchasing power, similar to a Social Security check.

Rove also said that some of the cost of the Affordable Care Act is being covered by interest and taxes collected on student loans

“Why are we doing that?” Rove said. “Why are we taxing students in order to pay for the Affordable Care Act? That doesn’t make sense.”

Rove said that Obama has built on the successes of the previous administration on some foreign affairs, including the timetable for troop withdrawal in Iraq. He also credited the Bush administration with helping to start the drone program, which he said has been a success. But he said some of the administration’s policies have brought more hostility from countries such as North Korea, Russia, Syria and Iran.

“We also face doubt from our allies to how reliable our forces are,” he added.

Rove also spoke about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya that killed four diplomats, including the American ambassador. He criticized how it was handled by the Obama administration.

“Nobody bothers to tell the President of the United States, Mr. President, we’ve got a problem,” Rove said. “The word of the President of the United States matters.”

Protesters gather

Protesters gathered on the steps outside the Student Union before 7 p.m. Many held signs, led chants and some even wore costumes designed to look like dollar bills that were handed out by the Represent Us campaign – a non-partisan group that sets out to curb the undo influence of well-financed special interests in the political system, according to organizer Mike Spahr.

“I don’t have the opportunity to go to Washington or some other city that he might be speaking at,” Northampton resident Julie Dyer said. “I live in this area so it gives me an opportunity to express my opinion.”

Close to 550 people waited in line to try and get seats to hear Rove speak, but only 300 general admission seats were available.

Not all of the protesters, however, thought that interrupting Rove was the right approach. Myra Lam, a 2011 graduate of Smith College, said that she had seen a protest similar to this a few years earlier with the Smith College Republicans brought a speaker that some found to be homophobic.

“The protestors [at Smith], in my view, showed a lot of disrespect, I thought, especially on a campus which was meant to be so open and affirming of a lot of different viewpoints,” she said, adding, “I suppose I tend to favor direct discourse rather than interruptions.”

Jeff Napolitano, director of the American Service Friends Committee of Western Massachusetts, organized protesting both outside of the Student Union and inside during the speech. Plans began being made last Thursday, he said, at an emergency meeting between him and 25 other UMass faculty, staff and community members.

“Our goal that it not be forgotten who Karl Rove was and what he did,” Napolitano said. “The Republican Club is supposed to be about patriotism, Americanism. They just brought a guy who orchestrated a war in which over a million Iraqis died, but over 4,000 U.S. soldiers died.”

David Kaufman, the president of the UMass Republican Club, said that the protesters were ignorant and immature, and that he thought they had made a fool of themselves and embarrassed the school.

“The protests were what we expected,” he said. “We planned for this, planned months for this,” adding that the protests were, “a waste of our time and a waste of Rove’s time.”

Kaufman said that overall, however, he thought the speech was insightful, showing “what the future holds in store for the party.”

Bringing Rove to speak at UMass cost $15,000.

Nick Canelas, Nikki Grossfeld, Peter Cappiello and Alyssa Creamer contributed to this report.

Patrick Hoff can be reached at [email protected].



19 Responses to “Karl Rove delivers speech despite protests”

  1. Dr. Ed Cutting on April 10th, 2013 8:39 am

    The fact that they brought Rove shows that it is now the RINO club, not the Republican Club, and the fact that he only cost $15,000 shows the extent to which both he and the RINO club have fallen from where both were a decade ago.

    There is a schism in the GOP between the big-money professional politicians and the TEA Party with people like Rove spending the past 5 years trying to destroy the TEA Party. In the process, he got Obama re-elected and everything else, and now we see his Crocodile Tears about NoBama NoCare and the rest.

    It’s sad because I know what the Republican Club once was — and it is why I tried so hard to keep that one going. But it is gone and has been replaced by a tightly-controlled chapter of the College Republicans who do and say whatever the Beltway Establishment tells them to.


  2. Dr. Ed Cutting on April 10th, 2013 9:06 am

    And yes, I am going to ask this — and why some intrepid reporter hasn’t already is beyond me — is David Kaufman related to (perhaps the son of) Ron Kaufman? That would be relevant, wouldn’t it?


  3. Arafat on April 10th, 2013 10:08 am

    What is it about leftists and civility?

    Rove was invited to speak and shares the same constitutional rights as leftists do to speak, no?

    No doubt if a member of the Weather Underground had spoken they would not have been met with the same disdain as was Karl Rove.

    The left is not about freedom so much as it is about forcing their opinions down our “collective” throats.

    What a bunch of mean-spirited, self-rightous hypocrites.


  4. Bob Loblaw on April 10th, 2013 1:38 pm

    Remember, democrats, freedom of speech is for everyone. You can talk, but so can the other side. I’m not a republican, but wow


  5. Leni on April 10th, 2013 3:31 pm

    Karl Rove is a war criminal. Keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll finally be arrested somewhere.


  6. N. on April 10th, 2013 7:53 pm

    Seeing as you’re apparently from another part of the world, Arafat’, you might not know this, but the U.S. Constitution is about what the government can and can’t do. It doesn’t say anywhere in it that random private citizens can’t go to a public event and yell at people they don’t like. And speaking of what the government did do here, it says in the article that people who interrupted were ‘escorted’ out.
    Also, since you’re apparently new to the area, speaking of the ‘Weather Underground’, in 2009 Ray Levasseur, who spent 20 years in jail for illegal, though non-lethal, acts in the 70s and 80s to protest U.S. support of brutal regimes in South Africa and South America, was supposed to speak at UMass. The police associations made a huge stink about it and his appearance was canceled. So… what was that you were saying?


  7. David Hunt 1990 on April 10th, 2013 9:18 pm


    It’s “Free speech for me, not for thee.”

    As to the Weather Underground – the Left takes these domestic enemies and puts them on the faculty.


  8. Will on April 11th, 2013 12:19 am

    ^^^ members of the Weather Underground aren’t orchestrators of torture.


  9. A reader on April 11th, 2013 3:49 am

    Karl Rove was part of a presidential administration that completely disregarded the constitution, especially by authorizing illegal spying on innocent citizens (the “Patriot Act”), by using torture in defiance of the Geneva Conventions, and by launching a war under false pretenses. That means they should be in jail. Karl Rove violated other people’s rights all the time, so he doesn’t get to complain about his right to free speech not being respected.


  10. JK on April 11th, 2013 10:02 am

    To Ed Cutting’s comment above, NO, David Kaufman is not the son of Ron Kaufman, not even related. I know this because I am his proud mother. The event was spectacular and only emabarrasing to those escorted out. As Karl said, Democrats also voted for the Iraqi war. We live in a democracy and one man not lead the US to war. The Q&A session that followed was ample opportunity for open discussion.


  11. Sarah on April 11th, 2013 2:35 pm

    “As Karl said, Democrats also voted for the Iraqi war.”

    Yes, and they deserve part of the blame as well. Rove deserves more of the blame, however, because he enthusiastically promoted the war and invented many of the lies that were used to justify it.

    But in any case, why did Karl Rove assume that the people protesting him supported the Democrats? I know quite a lot of them, and not a single one is a Democrat. They are either Socialists, or Greens, or ex-Democrats who don’t support any party at the moment. Get your mind out of the box of the two-party system. The Democrats are as bad as the Republicans.


  12. Arafat on April 11th, 2013 11:17 pm

    So Karl Rove is a “war criminal”. That’s news to me.

    What does that make Obama and his use of drones?

    Oh, that’s right…a Nobel Peace Prize winner. How silly of me to forget.


  13. Arafat on April 11th, 2013 11:19 pm

    Just to be clear I am ALL for freedom of speech. I’m just pointing out that 9 out of 10 times when a public speaker is drowned out by audience anger it is likely to be leftists doing the shouting.

    I’m glad they’re so open to new information and tolerant of other points of view. Yeah, right.


  14. Arafat on April 11th, 2013 11:23 pm

    Someone aboved mentioned the “lies” Rove made up to help start the Iraq War.

    Well, as I remember it almost every democratic senator voted to proceed with the war. If those morons trusted Rove – and did not do their own homework independent of his – then that says all we need to know about our elected officials and their due diligence.

    Furthermore, there was every reason to believe there were weapons of mass destruction as there was ample evidence Saddam used them against the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south.


  15. Sarah on April 12th, 2013 1:17 am

    Arafat, as I just explained, the protesters did NOT support Obama and the Democrats, so it doesn’t matter that Obama is also a war criminal (there, I said it, because it’s true) or that the Democrats went along with the invasion of Iraq. These days the Democrats are just Republicans-lite. If pro-war Democrats came to speak, we would protest them too.

    Besides, when was the last time you heard about the UMass Democrats organizing an event? I’m not sure they even do anything these days…


  16. Dr. Ed Cutting on April 12th, 2013 5:23 pm

    > 2009 Ray Levasseur, who spent 20 years in jail for illegal,
    > though non-lethal, acts in the 70s and 80s

    Such as blowing up the Seabrook, NH Post Office?
    Yep — Kaboom — and it was only chance that this was nonlethal.

    He is on probation and required to remain in the State of Maine.
    Amherst is some two states away from Maine, and THAT is why he couldn’t speak — because of a condition of his probation.
    But his wife did, and the rest of the fan club did, and this all managed to even get Deval Patrick (of all people) upset with UMass.

    I was there — and there was NOT a forum for Q&A because I would have personally asked about the Seabrook Post Office. Seems that my mother had been in that building a few hours earlier. And yes, I do take the destruction of that building a bit seriously.


  17. crusader on April 18th, 2013 5:37 pm

    I was there, and enjoyed all the fun richly. Glad to see how warm and welcoming 80%+ of the audience was to Mr. Rove. For my thoughts on the night see my blog here:

    Liberals can go to North Korea.


  18. Duderonomy on April 19th, 2013 4:28 pm

    Ed C-C-C-Cutting: you WERE at the “W. Mass Sedition Trial” event that Ray Levasseur was not allowed to attend, there were questions asked from the audience, you and your associate Brad “Restraining Order” Deflumeri asked a question, and your knee-jerk wanna-be peaceful liberal response to this situation surprisingly demonstrates not one iota more of mature rationale than anything you’ve said about goings on at UMass for the last 18 years (the entirety of which you were a student).

    The moment you can face the reality of the free speech / silencing debate that takes place annually at UMass, you will have grown more in that moment than in your prior two decades of college.


  19. Dr. Ed Cutting on April 25th, 2013 3:22 pm

    Brad DeFlumeri was not my “sidekick.” He was someone whom Ombudsperson Catherine Porter officially requested me to keep an eye on and to help him adjust to college life. That is a fact that the administration would like to forget — and this is all going to be documented quite well in my book.
    If I asked a question, what was it my friend? Seriously — if you remember me asking a question, what did I ask?
    And if you think my book will be scary, should I actually get the grant I wrote a month ago, well fun times will come to Planet UMass…..


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