Power Players

Karl Rove on Bush legacy: “He got the big things right”

Power Players

Politics Confidential

Karl Rove, who has been described by former President George W. Bush as “the architect” of his 2000 and 2004 election victories, isn’t backing down in his defense of the former president’s legacy, saying “he got the big things right.”

“He kept us safe after 9/11, he moved to modernize our tools, provide the tools to fight terror, he called terror for what it was, he tackled the big issues of trying to reform Social Security, Medicare, immigration, education,” Rove tells Politics Confidential, standing outside the new Bush library and museum.

When asked if he has any regrets about the Iraq War, knowing now that Saddam Hussein did not actually possess weapons of mass destruction that were given as the main justification at the time, Rove says he still thinks the war was the right decision.

“I do believe that the Iraq War was the right thing to do and the world is a safer place for having Saddam Hussein gone,” says Rove, who points out that there was a “bipartisan consensus” that Hussein had WMD’s before the U.S. entered the war ten years ago.

On the topic of the 2008 financial crisis that resulted in the greatest U.S. economic recession since the Great Depression, he says President Bush is not at fault.

“I'll tell you what it is: it is a 20 year history of letting these two institutions get out of control,” says Rove.

Rove loosely faults those who let the country’s financial institutions get over leveraged, and specifically identifies Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and other Senate Democrats for threatening to veto a regulatory bill in 2005 that he says would have reined in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

When it comes to ranking the former president on a historical scale, Rove says he’d put Bush high on his list, with the exception of a few presidents.

“The greats, you can't touch: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, FDR, the greats. But yeah, I'd put him up there,” says Rove, who refers to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll that found 47 percent approve of Bush as evidence that he will continue to be remembered more keenly as time goes by.

To hear more of the interview with Rove, and to hear why he thinks Jeb Bush would be a good 2016 presidential candidate for the GOP, check out this episode of Politics Confidential.

ABC's Eric Wray, Stephanie Z. Smith, and Michael Conte contributed to this episode.

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