When Karl Rove and Howard Dean debated this weekend at DePauw University in Greencastle, little was made of their ties to Indiana. But the two foes both have left an indelible mark on the Hoosier political landscape over the past decade.
Dean and Rove had a tremendous level of direct and indirect influence on the outcome of the presidential election in Indiana last November. Dean, as head of the Democratic National Committee, constructed a 50-state strategy that put the Hoosier State on President Obama’s radar.
“I must say it is a delight to be back in Indiana since now Indiana is officially a blue state. It is a delight. Thank you very much,” he said at the debate.
Rove, on the other hand, was the architect of a Bush presidency that inspired many voters to look for a change in parties occupying the White House. Rove says Governor Mitch Daniels, who worked with early him in the Bush administration, has the right pedigree to be a serious contender for the 2012 Republican nomination.
He says Daniels’ 20-point victory while the state went blue demonstrates a crossover appeal.
“What was really interesting was how well he ran in the African-Americans community compared to other Republicans. I don’t know what his future is going to be. But he can have a bright one if he wants to because He’s been a very effective governor who has demonstrated a Republican can have a positive, optimistic agenda for everybody in the state and get reelected in a tough year.”
The debate was Rove and Dean’s first public appearance together. Acknowledging their debate fell on the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, both called for more civility in political debate and admitted they both were guilty in contributing to the negative tone of political discourse that’s become the status quo since.