Rove discusses student debt, 2012 presidential campaign
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:04
Tufts Republicans and the Young American’s Foundation last night hosted Karl Rove, who was senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, in Cohen Auditorium. Before his lecture, Rove talked with The Tufts Daily about his experience speaking at college campuses and his expectations for the 2012 presidential election.
The Tufts Daily: Even though our mascot is an elephant, the Tufts campus has a reputation for its liberal bent on most issues. From a very involved LGBT community to a vocal faction of the Occupy movement, Tufts undergraduates are well known to lean left on most issues. How did this affect both your decision to speak on campus and the subject matters that you’ll include in your lecture?
Karl Rove: Well, it didn’t affect what I’m going to talk about; you can’t tailor your remarks campus to campus. I generally find on most liberal campuses I’m given a respectful hearing. I like going on campuses where conservatives are in the minority because, first of all, I want the conservatives to know that they’re not alone and, second of all, I’d like to convert a few people to at least occasionally agree.
TD: Along the same line, the Tufts Disobedience and Justice Collective created a “Karl Rove Un-Welcoming Collective” on Facebook to rally against your event on campus. How do you plan to respond, if at all, to those who vocalize their opinion against your politics?
KR: They’re entitled to their first amendment rights as long as they don’t conflict with my first amendment rights. So if they want to go out there and hold a rally somewhere on campus that’s fine by me, doesn’t hurt my feelings. What gets me is when people decide their first amendment rights mean that they can interrupt or destroy someone else’s first amendment rights. It’s always interesting to me that that tends to be very liberal people who claim to be tolerant. I guess there are just limits to toleration.
TD: Two of their complaints about the lecture itself were that they’re not allowed to record the lecture after the first five minutes and that their questions for you were screened beforehand. If you were involved in these decisions, why were they necessary for the event?
KR: The first part is my speaker’s bureau, and that’s pretty standard for people who go on campus and go off of campuses. It’s just standard practice among speaker’s bureaus. I assume it’s because they don’t want people to go and give a speech and everyone hears it so they don’t want you to go on. I give a different speech every time so it doesn’t matter to me.
I told them to get the campus Democrats involved in screening the questions. I don’t care. On the way over here, we were talking about it and I told them, I don’t care about the ugly ones, just take the swear words out and launch them in there.
TD: College students today often graduate with a large debt, as the price of tuition escalates. What do you think is the best way to deal with this issue?
KR: First of all, I think the best thing to do is to have a robust grown economy so people go out of school and can get a job and can not only pay off their tuition, but also can buy a house or buy a car or start a business. We have the highest unemployment rating on 18-24-year-olds since we began keeping statistics by age in 1948. That’s not a good situation.
Before the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, you could get a guaranteed student loan from your local bank who wanted your business.
Now you can only get a guaranteed federal student loan if you borrow money from the government, money it doesn’t have. We’re broke. We’re borrowing 40 cents of every dollar from the Chinese.
So, the government creates money, borrows money from itself that it doesn’t have at 2.8% and lends it to students at 6.8%. And what does the four points of interest go to? Goes to pay for the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare. We’re taking kids and saying if the only way you can get to college is by guaranteed student loan we’re going to make you pay four points of interest to pay for the Affordable Care Act. It’s another way to put a heavier tax on younger people.
If we’re going to have a federal student loan, from the federal government only, not from a private pool of capital, why do we need to use it as a system to, in essence, tax college kids who get out of school in order to pay for the Affordable Care Act through the back door.
The final thing is that, look, I do think we’ve got to do something about the growing cost of higher education. It is rising much more rapidly than the population. It’s rising much more rapidly than wages. It’s rising much more rapidly than the number of people who are applying to colleges. We need to examine our institutions of higher education, and they need to figure out how to do a better job of providing a quality education at less cost per pupil. I don’t have the answer, but I do think a lot of smart people have been thinking about it.
TD: Looking at the general election overall: How do you feel Romney will fare against President [Barack] Obama in the 2012 campaign season?
KR: I think it’s going to be a very close election. I think Romney will win, but it’s no guarantee, no lock. It’s going to be hard fought and either person could win, but I think at the end he does in a narrow victory.
TD: With your vast experience in politics, what advice do you have for the Romney campaign to wield their best bets against Obama?
KR: They have to do three things simultaneously, and it’s not going to be easy. First, they have to lay out the case against President Obama in a respectful way, using his words, his actions, his own statements, in order to, in essence, find him at fault. Here’s what he said he would do; here’s what he’s done. And they need to do it in the right tone.
Second, they’re going to be pummeled every single day. Team Obama is going to come at him with a two-by-four and he needs to find a way to respond to them without getting drawn into similar tactics. He needs to be presidential, and they’re going to act in a very un-presidential way, but he’s going to need to respond to it appropriately.