POLITICS

Karl Rove: Tea Party Is 'Not Sophisticated'

Oct 20, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

The Tea Party movement lacks sophistication and is, unlike the Reagan Revolution, not a "well-organized, coherent, ideologically motivated and conservative revolution." That's what GOP strategist Karl Rove told Germany's Der Spiegel in a recent interview.

"It's a little bit different because the Reagan Revolution was driven a lot by the persona of one man, Ronald Reagan, who had an optimistic and sunny view of what the nation could be," Rove said, describing birth of the modern conservative movement experienced in the 1980s. "It was also a well-organized, coherent, ideologically motivated and conservative revolution.

Rove continued, noting an incongruity between that political movement and the current Tea Party.

"If you look underneath the surface of the Tea Party movement, on the other hand, you will find that it is not sophisticated," Rove told Der Spiegel. "It's not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek. Rather, these are people who are deeply concerned about what they see happening to their country, particularly when it comes to spending, deficits, debt and health care."

Rove also disagreed with the contention that Tea Party movement has driven the GOP further to the right, and said that it only appears that way because of how far left Democrats have shifted since Obama assumed the presidency:

"I disagree with your assumption. It looks like it's moved because the Democrats have gone so far left," Rove claimed. "Name me one other instance in which the federal government increased discretionary domestic spending 25 percent in less than one year. There has been a bipartisan consensus since World War II that the size of the federal government would be roughly between 18 to 21 percent of GDP, floating around 20 percent. Obama is the first president to cross that line so dramatically."

The Tea Party's apparent shortage of sophistication and far-right perception would not keep the movement from achieving longevity, Rove said, comparing it to other politically motivated fronts throughout time.

"There have been movements like this before -- the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the pro-life movement, the Second Amendment rights movement," Rove told Der Spiegel. "That's exactly what's going to happen here. I meet a lot of Tea Partiers as I go around the country, and they are amazing people. Most have never been involved in politics before. This is their first experience, and they have the enthusiasm of people who have never done it before."

Read Der Spiegel's whole interview with Karl Rove here.