Who's the 'Real' Republican: Trump or Rove?

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Donald Trump has turned his heavy guns on GOP strategist Karl Rove and the argument appears to have degenerated into which man is the “real” Republican.


While Donald Trump ran for president as a Republican and served as a Republican, he doesn’t much like Republicans — or at least, some Republicans. He wants to possess the Republican Party completely. He wants Republicans to give him their souls.

Most of all, he wants their unyielding loyalty to him personally. That this doesn’t unnerve liberty-loving Republicans has been a fascinating mystery for four years. But the sad truth is, if you step out and criticize Donald Trump, you’re likely to have the world fall on your head.

Donald Trump is a man who cannot take criticism. He showed that once again when Fox analyst and former George Bush White House chief of staff Karl Rove pointed out some Trump missteps during his CPAC speech.


Rove noted that in a straw poll of CPAC participants, only 68% wanted Trump to run for president again in 2024, while 32% did not want him to run or had no opinion.

Trump’s CPAC speech was noteworthy for rehashing his unfounded claims of election fraud in his November loss to Democrat Joe Biden, despite advice from his team not to do so.

Rove wrote of the 90-minute speech: “There was no forward-looking agenda, simply a recitation of his greatest hits. People like fresh material. Repetition is useful to a point, but it grows stale.”


Trump blasted Rove for being a RINO.

Trump called Rove — a familiar figure on the Fox News Channel who writes his points on an erasable whiteboard — a “RINO,” or Republican In Name Only, and said Rove had lobbied him in support of 5G telecommunications.

“Karl Rove has been losing for years, except for himself. He’s a RINO of the highest order, who came to the Oval Office lobbying for 5G for him and a group,” Trump said.

Trump said Rove had called him on the night of the Nov. 3 election to congratulate him on a “great victory,” which was before Biden was declared the winner.

For his part, Rove knew better than to rile Trump any further. He wasn’t going to win the argument so he fell back on “differing recollections” of what transpired.

“I’ve been called a lot of things in my career, but never a RINO. I’ve voted for every Republican presidential candidate since I turned 18 and have labored only for GOP (Republican) candidates since then,” said the 70-year-old Rove. “I have a different recollection of Mr. Trump’s views on 5G and our conversation election night. I’ll continue to use my whiteboard and voice to call balls and strikes.”

The question isn’t which man is right. Rove represents a faction of Republicanism that looks to make the GOP a governing party, a majority party. That means Republicans must win in many places other than deep red states and districts where Mr. Potato Head could win if he ran with an “R” after his name.


Republicans will not regain control of anything in Washington if half the party doesn’t even think the other half are Republicans. The fact is, both Rove and Trump are as Republican as they want to be. Trump, as a matter of convenience. Rove, because it’s been bred into him from birth. That doesn’t make Rove any more legitimate a Republican than Trump. Nor does it make Trump the only Republican example to follow.

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