Karl Rove gave a speech Monday night on the UT Austin campus. The speech was hosted by an assortment of groups including the UT College Republicans.
The Texas Union Ballroom was a full house with about 80% of the crowd in support of Rove and 20% against. There were a handful of vocal protesters, this being at UT Austin and all. The protesters were a variety of Code Pink members, other anti-war activists and libertarian types.
Rove spoke about the fact that President Obama’s election was a historic turning point in our nation’s history no matter if you voted for him or not. Rove praised Obama on continuing the right military strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan to the displeasure of the anti-war activists in the room. After acknowledging Obama’s correct war strategy and the historic nature of President Obama’s election Rove quickly pivoted and highlighted where and how the President has gone wrong. Rove spoke in length about the health care bill and how it was bad for America and Texas. Rove spoke of the Texas model of doing things and how Washington DC should take some tips from Texas. Was this Rove’s way of praising Governor Perry and his leadership after backing Senator Hutchison’s unsuccessful primary challenge to Governor Perry?
Rove also had a couple of funny self serving promotions for his new book, Courage and Consequence.
During the question and answer session Rove was asked questions by the President of the UT College Republicans and the Vice President of the UT College Democrats. Both of the representatives portrayed themselves and their respective organizations in a professional manner unlike some members of the crowd.
Here is a brief run down of the question and answer session.
Rove defended his campaign style and tactics, although he did say one of his biggest mistakes was tampering with the invites to a rival campaign he was working against as a young 19 year old trying to impress a female co-worker.
Rove defended his innocence in the Valerie Plame case and pointed out that the courts agreed with him.
Rove recalled the Florida recount and defended the actions the Bush/Cheney campaign took there.
At the end of the question and answer session Rove opened up the floor to a question from one of the “lunatics” in the audience that had been vocally interpreting his speech the whole night. Austins very own libertarian activist, Medina support and conspiracy theorist in chief Robert Morrow quickly jumped up and asked a ridiculous question that I will not repeat here. Rightfully so Rove ignored the question and called on another “lunatic” who instead of asking a legitimate question he demanded that Rove answer the previous question. It goes to show that even when Rove goes out of his way to have a discussion on legitimate issues with people of opposing view points they are incapable of that discussion.
At the beginning of the event a representative of the UT administration laid down the ground rules of what was and was not allowed during the speech. Of course the protesters did not heed this warning and throughout the whole night they interrupted Rove. Upon each interruption the crowd would attempt to ignore the outburst and then usually cheer when Rove talked over the noise or when the protester was escorted out by UT Police.
By my count the Police escorted out at least 7 people during the speech and one outside of the Texas Union. There are reports that some of these people were arrested by the UT Police and taken to the Travis County Jail. InfoWars (not going to provide a link to this wacky site) is claiming that one of its “journalists” Aaron Dykes was arrested solely “because he is an Infowars journalist.” Sorry Infowars, but I was sitting a couple rows behind Dykes and he was verbally interrupting the speech after being warned of the ground rules prohibiting this. It then took at least four police officers to remove Dykes from his standing position in front of his chair and out of the building. I would hardly say Dykes was not causing a disturbance and not resiting arrest like Infowars claims. Unfortunately I did not get any video of the event, but I am sure others did as there were a lot of cameras present at the event.
At one point Rove shouted down a protester telling him to “Sit Down and Shut Up” and the crowd loved it. Reports are claiming that Rove shouted this at Dykes before he was escorted out and arrested, but I can not verify that. I was to busy laughing at the protesters unsuccessful tactics.
Upon exiting the Texas Union Ballroom I saw a gentleman protesting with an bull horn near the Guadalupe crosswalk. The only problem was that the protester was openly wearing a pistol holster with a visible presumably fake orange gun holstered. Carrying a fake or real gun on a school campus is illegal as the gentleman quickly found out through a fast reacting police officer arriving on scene and quickly handcuffing and disarming the protester of his fake gun and a knife the protester was verbally claiming was legal. Whether or not you think open or concealed carry should be allowed on campus is a moot mater. The law of the land says it is illegal.
The majority of the crowd, including majority of the people there that did not politically agree with Rove were respectful and did not cause any trouble. A very small minority of the audience vocally interrupted the speech and were carrying protest signs. Not sure what the protesters wanted to accomplish, but there were successful in educating the audience on how crazy they really are.
A final shout out goes to the UT Austin Police who in a very professional and efficient manner kept the audience safe, allowed the audience to peacefully hear the speech without being harrassed and quickly removed protesters who were violating the law after giving them ample warning of what was allowed and not allowed.