BY FREDA MIKLIN
On August 29, political consultant, policy advisor and lobbyist Karl Rove, who served as Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, came to Maggiano’s DTC to tell 60 of the party faithful why they should work hard to get Joe O’Dea elected to the U.S. Senate in November.
Dick Wadhams, who served as the Republican state party chair from 2007 until 2011, described O’Dea as, “the best candidate and the starkest contrast to the patrician, accidental senator, Michael Bennet.”
O’Dea talked about having grown up in southeast Denver with a dad who was a 30-year member of the Denver Police Department. He attended Regis High School, then became a union carpenter. Later, he went to CSU, where he got “most of (his) construction management degree” before leaving school to start a business with his wife Celeste in their basement. That business grew into CEI constructors, a heavy civil contractor that today employs 300 people.
He said, “I got into this race because I’m worried about the direction that this country is headed…Here in Colorado, we have record inflation, record price of gas…We’re the number one state in auto thefts. We’re number one in Cocaine. We’ve got fentanyl killing our kids. This state is in dire straits and so is the United States, and it’s under the policies that we’ve seen put on us by the Democrats… Those are the things that I’m talking about. Michael (Senator Bennet) is talking about a bunch of nonsense…I want to be the voice of working Americans—the middle class, small business owners, single parents, those of us that work for a living, play by the rules, and pay our taxes. I’ll back our military, I’ll back our cops. We’ve got to get more cops on the street.”
Rove described O’Dea as “one of the two best candidates we have in the country, if not the best … He’s authentic, he’s honest, he’s true, he’s approachable. He’s the kind of person people want to see in the job… The guy he’s running against is a get-along, go-along Democrat… We need people up there who are going to do the right thing for our country, first and foremost. Not the right thing for our party, not the right thing for their political career, but the right thing for our country. This is the kind of guy you have here.”
He continued, “Every Senate election, there’s a surprise election like this one…This is the model of a candidate who can beat Michael Bennet. This race is important. You saw that (Minority Leader) U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said, “We’re in,” which means that significant national GOP financial support will come to Colorado to support O’Dea.
On a question about “the incredible amount of division” within the GOP, Rove said, “We can unify our party by having people who will stand up and talk about their agenda and look to the future… Joe has the ability to unify us by being focused on the future.”
In response to a question about the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act, Rove said that the plan to eliminate $10,000 in college debt for some Americans was a “giveaway” that would cost between $240 billion and $750 billion, depending on whose estimates one believes, adding, “We need to be worried about the people who are trying
to make life better for their families and are scraping by… We’ve got to worry about people who made this country, not the people who have a better shot at life because they’ve gone to a nice college… We’ve got to make sure that everybody has a shot at the prosperity that America has.”
On national politics, Rove expressed confidence that the Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives after the November election, noting that the GOP gained seats in 2020 even though it lost the presidential election. “But the Senate is really dicey,” he said, “because we have 21 Republican seats up and only 14 Democrats, so we start out with more that we have to defend.”
On the 2020 presidential election, Rove told the crowd, “The election was not stolen… Advocates for the (former) president said that 22,000 dead people voted in Nevada.” He explained that the actual number of dead people who voted in Nevada was two and one was an accident that occurred when a woman mistakenly filled out her recently deceased father’s ballot that had been delivered to her home.
Of the whole issue of questions around the 2020 presidential election, Rove said, “The only way to get past this is to get past this. The way to do that is to get candidates who are focused on the future.”
Finally, someone asked Rove about the former president, expressing concern that he could have a negative impact on the upcoming election. Rove said that Trump had done a lot of good things, but, “He is not served well by the people around him…He’s going to decide what he’s going to do. It’s up to us to be straight shooters… We are coming to a moment where it’s time to say thank you, but we need to have a change, a new generation. Electing Joe O’Dea can be a part of that change.”