President Obama’s fierce attacks on Mitt Romney’s history with Bain Capital hit a nerve with Karl Rove, who on “Fox News Sunday” simultaneously lashed out at the president and advised him to stop making one of his most explosive allegations: that Romney may be a felon.
Rove, the architect of President George W. Bush’s presidential victories, now runs the pro-Republican super PAC American Crossroads, which is spending heavily to help Romney defeat Obama. He took issue with the Obama campaign’s suggestion that Romney’s SEC disclosure forms — in which Romney described himself as managing director at Bain beyond 1999, contrary to his claim that he left that year — could make him guilty of a felony.
“The fact of the matter is that if the president continues to make this charge — this outrageous charge that his campaign had that Mitt Romney is guilty of felonious activity, could’ve committed a felony — that’s a big mistake,” Rove said, predicting the line of attack won’t help Obama with independent voters.
He called Obama a “cheap Chicago pol,” accusing him of engaging in “gutter politics of the worst Chicago sort.” He echoes Romney, who called Obama’s claim “reckless and absurd,” and “beneath his dignity.”
On Thursday, Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter lit up the firestorm after she said, “Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.”
On ABC’s “This Week,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, called the attacks fair game. “Mitt Romney said Bain Capital is his calling card for why he should be president,” he said. “As Mitt Romney said once to his own Republican colleagues: stop whining. I give him his own advice. Stop whining.”
Asked on Fox whether the attacks are defining Romney to swing voters unfamiliar with him, Rove said the ex-governor needs to talk more about what he would do as president.
“One of the best ways to define yourself is describe what it is you’ll do,” he said, adding that “I don’t think [Romney] is” doing that enough.
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.