Last night on the O’Reilly Factor, Karl Rove said that he was the director of the Texas Reagan campaign in 1980.
There is a way to check exactly on Rove’s role in the Reagan era. There is a group called The Reagan Alumni. I am a member. The group includes anyone and everyone who played a role in the Reagan administration or Reagan campaigns. There is a directory. I have several issues.
Everyone is listed alphabetically, and in some issues again by state. So too positions held in campaigns and the Reagan administration.
Karl Rove isn’t listed.
What does this mean?
Let’s start with a statement released by Reagan biographer Craig Shirley. It reads as follows:
To: Fellow Conservatives
Last night on The O'Reilly Factor, Karl Rove stated that he was the Director of the Texas campaign for Ronald Reagan in 1980. Since then, I've received several inquiries on this matter.
In the course of my research for Rendezvous with Destiny about the 1980 campaign, at no time did I come across Mr. Rove's name in association with the Reagan campaign. Indeed, according to sources, he was with the George H. W. Bush campaign until he was fired for leaking to the media.
In 1976, as Chairman of the College Republicans, Rove was for Gerald Ford over Governor Reagan, as was all of the Republican National Committee.
The 1980 Texas campaign for Ronald Reagan was run by Ernie Angelo and the Field Director was Rick Shelby. Gary Hoitsma ran the media for Reagan in Texas in 1980.
In fact, Mr. Rove's own bio on his website says he was on Governor Clements staff in 1980 and Clements was not on board with Reagan until after Detroit convention.
See pages 39, 173-174, Chapter 17 and pg 498 of Rendezvous with Destiny for details on the Texas campaign for Reagan in 1980.
Messrs. Angelo, Shelby and Hoitsma, described by Craig Shirley above, are all listed in the Reagan Alumni directories in precisely the positions Mr. Shirley lists.
Mr. Rove is nowhere to be found in directories for June of 1992, October of 1998, February of 2000 and February of 2001. Directories that contain thousands of names of those who worked for Reagan, all alphabetically listed along with positions held in a Reagan campaign or the Reagan Administration or both. Mr. Shirley himself is listed in these directories, as is Rove critic Mark Levin. As am I.
I should say that I personally saw Mr. Rove at a Reagan Alumni event -- on February 6, 2001. The event, celebrating President Reagan’s birthday, was written up in the New York Times the very next day -- on February 7, 2001. This was, of course, just after the new administration of George W. Bush arrived in Washington. Mr. Rove was not mentioned in the story by name. But the story had this paragraph:
The guest list included newly appointed senior officials of the Bush administration, many who came to Washington 20 years ago because of Mr. Reagan.
That is correct, and as I say, I can vouch for Rove’s presence. Although I believe Rove never “came to Washington 20 years ago because of Mr. Reagan.” He was, I believe, in Texas.
But why isn’t Rove listed in directories that contain literally thousands of names of those who worked for Ronald Reagan? Maybe Rove never bothered to send in his info. Certainly as someone who attended these Reagan Alumni meetings over the years in Washington or California, other than that one in Washington in 2001 I never recall seeing Rove. These events are somewhat akin to a college or high school reunion -- albeit they carried political punch because of the members. The most prominent members of the Reagan era have attended these meetings over the years… names like Nancy Reagan (who played hostess to one meeting in California at the Reagan Library), Ed Meese, Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirpatrick and Pat Buchanan. They are a chance to see old friends and colleagues and even make new friends. Living in Texas as he did for a long time during this period, it’s understandable Karl Rove might not have journeyed to Washington to attend these events over the years if he were a member. But it would certainly seem an obvious thing for a political animal like Karl Rove to at least sign up for the directory -- assuming he had the basic entry credentials.
But again, he isn’t listed.
It is mystifying why Mr. Rove would take to O’Reilly and utter such an easily checkable story.
As noted yesterday, Rove is merely the latest symbol of an old battle between the GOP Establishment and conservatives. Whatever he did or didn't do for Reagan is both highly relevant -- yet irrelevant.
Ronald Reagan trounced the GOP Establishment. But with the advent of the two Bush presidencies -- set in motion by Reagan’s olive branch selection of George H.W. Bush as his vice president in 1980 -- the moderates ascended.
The real problem here is that in 2013 many conservatives believe the Bush 43 presidency -- in which Mr. Rove played such a key role -- has played a real role in damaging the conservative brand. And they see Mr. Rove as a prime mover in an effort to ensure the defeat of conservatives in the 2014 elections -- by putting over Establishment candidates who will proclaim their conservatism only to get to Washington and turn into Big Government enthusiasts.
Last night on O’Reilly Mr. Rove said this was not an ideological fight.
Most assuredly conservatives disagree.
This is a problem. A big one.