Karl Rove, the former “brain” of the Bush White House, will speak in Winthrop on Friday at an event sponsored by the Harvard Republican Club.
Calling Rove “clearly one of the biggest names in politics today,” Harvard Republican Club President Caleb L. Weatherl ’10 said he was excited that people of all political persuasions would get to hear Rove speak.
“Events like this are really what Harvard is about—an open discussion of ideas from people with all different points of view,” he said.
Rove was longtime deputy chief-of-staff to President Bush and played a significant role in shaping White House policy until his resignation last August. He is also regarded as the mastermind behind the Republican victories in the 2000, 2002, and 2004 elections.
Weatherl accused the media of portraying Rove as “something that he’s not—mean, angry,” and added that the event would hopefully “dispel myths.”
Michelle M. Parilo ’10, the Republican Club’s vice president for speakers and political discourse, also praised Rove’s personal qualities.
“Not only is he a political genius; he is a very friendly person,” she said.
But Rove’s visit on Friday may not be met with universal enthusiasm.
On March 9, Rove met with a hostile crowd when he spoke at the University of Iowa. Students called for the school to have the $40,000 speaking fee refunded, and police were forced to remove two people who tried to make a citizen’s arrest on Rove, accusing him of crimes while a part of the Bush administration, according to CNN.
While Harvard Democrats commended the Republican Club for bringing such an important political figure to campus, they also accused Rove of playing a part in what they said they believed has been a disastrous presidency.
“A lot what he has been involved in the Bush administration has been some of their greatest failings,” said Jarret A. Zafran ’09, president of the Harvard College Democrats. “The American public has heard enough from Karl Rove.”
Zafran called Rove “a disgrace to the political system” and said that he hopes “he fades away from political life.”
Weatherl said while he understood that some controversy might surround the decision to invite Rove, he anticipates a civil reception.
“In some ways, Karl Rove is a polarizing figure,” he said. “I hope and expect that the discussion will be respectful on both sides.”
The speech will take place at 4 p.m. on Friday in the Winthrop Junior Common Room and is open to all Harvard affiliates.
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