Last Tuesday Karl Rove and Robert Gibbs duked it out in Memorial Auditorium. The debate, moderated by Stanford Professor Rob Reich, was actually pretty interesting. Reich started the debate by asking both Rove and Gibbs to “role play” and switch sides, each arguing for their opponent’s case. Predictably, Gibbs started off by declaring how Romney has no special insight into how to manage the American economy, especially given his record in Massachusetts. Rove then retaliated by bringing up Obama’s largely unfulfilled promises from his first election campaign, claiming that new “unifying” leadership is needed. Reich pushed each debater to better answer the prompt,
which neither initially addressed, and joked about the difficulties both contestants had with not pivoting, much to the amusement of the audience.
While both candidates dodged and skirted their fair share of inquiries, Rove took the prize for eluding questions. When pushed on several occasions as to establish whether or not he supported transparency in SuperPac donations, for example, Rove deliberately brushed the question aside, stating simply, “If that’s the lay of the land, then that’s the lay of the land.” Reich eventually gave up and moved on. Surprisingly, Rove was very clear with his opinion of the DREAM Act, declaring that it should be done by states and not on the national level. This is a significant departure from the majority of Rove’s Republican compatriots.
All in all, the debate lived up to its promise of entertainment; both men stuck close to party lines and agreed that, to get anything done, compromise and cooperation are imperative. Rove however, won without a doubt, showcasing impressive skill in debate. Granted, Rob Gibbs is much closer to the upcoming presidential race than Karl Rove and has a lot more at stake with what he says, but Rove’s witty comebacks and no-holds-barred language (declaring one of his dissenters a “no-good lying sonofabitch”) enhanced his case. Furthermore, Rove spoke more extensively on major points than Gibbs and often interjected during Gibbs’ responses with the Republican counter-argument, citing a laundry list of facts and previous legislation.
Video of the debate after the break…