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Posted by on Feb 10, 2007 in Economy | 18 comments

Did Karl Rove Stick His Foot In His Mouth?

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Question: Did White House political maven Karl Rove stick his foot in his mouth…bigtime? Political Radar reports:

ABC News’ Karen Travers Reports: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove explained the Bush Administration’s guest worker program and immigration policy at a luncheon Thursday by saying, “I don’t want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas.”

The statement appeared on The Corner, National Review’s blog, and has been gaining steam ever since.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino told ABC News that the White House does not deny that Rove made the remark but claims it has been taken out of context.

Rove was speaking at a Republican women’s luncheon and was talking about the President’s immigration policy and the need for a system where willing workers get paired with willing employers, Perino said.

Rove talked about how there are so many vacant jobs in this country and how many of them are in low-skill, low-wage sectors of the economy.

Rove was not insulting those people in those jobs, the White House explained, he was, according to Perino, saying that every parent wants their child to have a high-skilled, high-wage job.

Perino said Rove addressed the fact that immigrants are coming to this country — and doing anything they can to get here — and want their children to have those same opportunities for good jobs.

It’s classic CYO. The real questions that arise are: (1)Did Rove really say it? It’s notable there is no denial from the White House. (2)Won’t this aggravate an already festering sore within the GOP over the issue of immigration? (3)Won’t this hurt the White House among those who have applauded its stance on immigration? Because more than ever the words (if you ignore the White House spin) suggest that illegal immigrants are viewed above all as a source of super-cheap labor?

Andrew Sullivan writes:

It’s a very big story if true – because it higlights the deep faultline in the GOP on immigration. Surely NRO should provide more sourcing or retract it forthwith. Or are they not in the business of fact-based commentary?

It certainly is a story based on surprisingly weak sourcing. But the key is: the White House isn’t denying it which means (a) it was said OR (b)they don’t mind this message going out if it wasn’t quite said that way. In the end the White House could be in a lose-lose situation on immigration, more than ever — upsetting some within the GOP who demand a harder stance on immigration reform, but also insulting some who have so far applauded George Bush for embracing “comprehensive” immigration reform rather than just a crackdown on tightening the U.S. border.

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