Former President Donald Trump railed against Fox News contributor and GOP political strategist Karl Rove, calling him a “RINO of the highest order” and encouraging the network to dump him.
Trump’s statement came after Rove was critical of the former president’s speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, his first since leaving the White House, which he said was filled with grievances but contained little vision.
“There was no forward-looking agenda, simply a recitation of his greatest hits. People like fresh material. Repetition is useful to a point, but it grows stale,” Rove wrote of Trump’s speech, according to Reuters.
Rove also noted that a CPAC straw poll found that 68 percent of respondents want the former president to run again in 2024 compared to 32 percent who either did not want him to do so, or did not have an opinion.
In his statement, Trump said that Rove “has been losing for years, except for himself,” before recounting an occasion when the strategist came to see him as president to lobby for 5G on behalf of himself and another group. Trump said, following “a lengthy discussion,” he passed on the pitch.
INBOX: A statement from the former president of the United States about Karl Rove: pic.twitter.com/9D7pG0JLj7
— Darren Samuelsohn (@dsamuelsohn) March 5, 2021
He then said that Rove called him on Election Night to offer his congratulations for “a great win.” He said he thanked Rove “only to watch the rigged election take its final form.”
Trump went on to blast Rove for saying negative things about “those who know how to win” elections. “He certainly hasn’t helped Fox in the ratings department, has he?” Trump added.
Describing Rove as “a pompous fool with bad advice” and “an agenda,” he said the strategist ran both Senate campaigns for Georgia Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both of whom lost.
“Should have been an easy win, but he and his friend [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch [McConnell, R-Ky.] blew it with their $600 vs. $2,000 proposal,” Trump continued, referencing McConnell’s COVID-19 relief payment proposal to American families after Trump pushed $2,000 checks.
“If the Republican Party is going to be successful, they’re going to have to stop dealing with the likes of Karl Rove and just let him float away, or retire” like other GOP senators including Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and, soon, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
The former president went on to take credit for Republicans picking up 15 seats in the House and maintain several seats in the Senate that polling suggested they would lose, including that of McConnell, who was lagging behind Democratic candidate Amy McGrath before Trump endorsed him.
Trump’s statement also claimed that 31 million people watched his CPAC speech online and that “in the Senate, I was undefeated in primary endorsements with a record of 21-0.”
In a statement to Reuters, Rove dismissed the former president’s criticisms.
“I’ve been called a lot of things in my career, but never a RINO. I’ve voted for every Republican presidential candidate since I turned 18 and have labored only for GOP (Republican) candidates since then,” Rove, 70, said.
“I have a different recollection of Mr. Trump’s views on 5G and our conversation election night,” he added. “I’ll continue to use my whiteboard and voice to call balls and strikes.”