Karl Rove, former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to George W. Bush, said President Barack Obama contributed to the magnitude of the Gulf oil spill by his failure to act in a timely manner.
"It took the president 12 days to go to the region, and to my knowledge, he's yet to have a meeting with industry experts," said Rove, speaking in advance of his appearance Saturday in Oklahoma City. "I think he would want the best minds in the field briefing him. I suppose it's possible that President Obama has a deep knowledge of offshore drilling."
Rove predicted that the oil spill would negatively impact the president's chances at re-election because it "strips away his claim to competence."
"What has the administration done to close the leak?" Rove said. "They outsourced the job to BP, and that might be the right thing to do, but why haven't they suspended portions of the Jones Act so that we can get the equipment to stop the leak?"
The Jones Act requires that any vessel involved in a major cleanup in the Gulf be at least 50 percent U.S.-owned, Rove said.
"There are nations out there offering assistance," he said. "The Dutch and the Danes have equipment that could help. It took President Bush two days to suspend the Jones Act in the wake of Katrina, and those two days were primarily spent filling out the paperwork that was required."
Rove said that Bush's response to Katrina differed from Obama's, because Katrina happened in the U.S., and, therefore, was the responsibility first of the governors of the states affected.
"This happened offshore, so it's a federal responsibility," Rove said.
In addition to his assessment of Obama's re-election chances, Rove predicted that Republicans would have sizable gains in the upcoming November elections.
"The president's approval rating is in the tank, the economy is in the tank, and Democrats were drummed in New Jersey and Virginia," he said. "Republicans have a substantial lead in the polls."
As for Oklahoma, Rove said it was certainly a possibility that Republicans could run the table here this year. Many of those Republicans are likely to be at Rove's appearance on Saturday, when he joins Glenn Beck and John Rich, of country music's Big & Rich, at the Ford Center for the "Taking Our Country Back Tour." The event begins at 2 p.m.
The event has been touring nationwide with conservative superstars Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity. Rove said he will be addressing three topics on Saturday.
"I'll be talking about 'Obamacare,' deficits and debt, and the need for individual involvement in the political process," he said. "The people who will be there this weekend are part of a movement that has been sidelined; they've not participated in the political process, but now they're energized and getting involved."
Rove said he believes health care, deficit spending and the increasing national debt have energized the movement.
"I just finished my book tour, and all over the country, I met people who are going to local Tea Party meetings or patriot meetings, and nine times out of 10, they tell me they've never been involved politically before," he said. "This movement has the capacity to be like the Civil Rights or pro-life movements, to influence the politicians in office. They can have a tremendous impact." Greg Horton
Look for full event coverage of the Taking Our Country Back Tour's OKC stop in the June 30 Gazette.