Updated: June 1, 2011 at 12:00 am
Colorado is crucial to winning the 2012 presidential race.
That was the message delivered to El Paso County Republicans by Karl Rove, adviser to former President George W. Bush, at the county party’s annual Lincoln Day dinner on Wednesday night.
In an hour-long speech, Rove simultaneously charmed the room and railed against President Barack Obama’s policies. But the core of the speech was made clear toward the end, when he said Colorado could swing next year’s election.
“You come out of here with some big booming numbers, and Barack Obama is going to be heading back to Chicago with his tail between his legs,” Rove said.
More than 600 Republicans at the dinner stood and cheered.
Colorado’s Republican Speaker of the House, Frank McNulty, said afterward, “He hit the nail on the head. The 2012 presidential race runs through Colorado. It runs through El Paso County.”
Rove did what he’s famous for — he pelted the room with numbers and statistics. He elicited gasps from the audience when he said that 9.5 million illegal immigrants would receive unpaid-for health benefits under Obama’s health care bill, and when he said the deficit would increase over the next 75 years if Obama’s budget policies are kept in place.
“These people believe they can spend their way to prosperity, and no country in history has been able to do that,” Rove charged.
He said that domestic spending under Obama has increased by 84 percent, and asked the crowd, “How many of you have gone on a spending binge like that in the last three years?”
It’s Rove’s way with numbers that many of the attendees loved. Local resident Mike Owings called the speech “intriguing and informative,” saying much of Rove’s speech isn’t common knowledge.
“You don’t hear those things in the media,” he said about the health care statistics Rove recited.
Another local, Mark Stanforth, commented, “What he has to say is what everybody needs to hear.”
Not everyone in Colorado Springs was happy that Rove was in town. Several protesters stood outside the dinner with signs, one of which held a sign with Rove’s initials, and read, “Resist Oppressive Vindictive Establishment.”
Among the protesters was Chris Nixon, a Republican party precinct captain. He stood on a sidewalk outside the dinner, bullhorn in hand, and yelled that Rove should be tried for war crimes.
“He should be held accountable for everything he’s done,” said Nixon. “He obviously thinks he’s above the law.”