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Rove Recalls Colorado Roots for Delegates

October 23, 2008
Rove recalls Colorado roots for delegates By Lynn Bartels, Rocky Mountain News (Contact) Published September 3, 2008 at 7:01 p.m. Updated September 3, 2008 at 7:01 p.m. Text size 0 Comments Email Print Photo by Chris SchneiderChris Schneider © The Rocky Chris Schneider © The Rocky Karl Rove talks with Perry Buck, vice-chairman of the Colorado Republicans, before speaking to the Colorado Republican delegates at breakfast at the Four Points Sheraton in Minneapolis, Minn., on Wednesday, September 3, 2008. More Republican National Convention 2008Palin power energizes Colorado Springs Palin power to energize Colorado Springs event Arrests mark last anti-war march of convention More stories » MINNEAPOLIS — Karl Rove, native son. It's a label that gives Colorado Democrats the willies and Colorado Republicans a huge shot in the arm. The master Republican strategist addressed Colorado's delegates at their breakfast Wednesday in a speech that combined the personal and political, as well as an another angle about John McCain's imprisonment in Vietnam. "Fellow Coloradans," Rove began, and was immediately interrupted by whoops and hollers. He was born at St. Joseph's Hospital in 1950 and spent the first nine years of his life in Arvada and Golden before moving out of state. When Rove was in Denver last week to provide commentary at the Democratic National Convention, he regularly drove by his grandparents' former home in northwest Denver, where the family gathered every Sunday for fried chicken and to watch "The Wonderful World of Disney." Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, said he first met Rove in 1975 in Denver when Rove at the College Republicans' national convention. Rove was the president. "Since then, neither one of us has been able to find a steady job," Wadhams joked. After the speech, Colorado Republicans gushed. "Colorado can claim Dick Wadhams and Karl Rove as native sons, which is why it's so depressing that we're a swing state," said alternate Kathleen LeCrone, of Centennial. Several Colorado Democrats said they had no idea Rove was born in Colorado. "That's jarring," said Jefferson County commission candidate Jason Bane. "He's probably a Raiders fan." Rove, credited as the architect behind President Bush's successful runs in 2000 and 2004, talked about his family before touching on McCain's imprisonment and Barack Obama's candidacy. He said his grandfather worked on a road crew in the San Juans during the Depression, selling knives on consignment from the back of his highway department truck. He eventually founded a butcher supplies company. "My grandmother claimed they started it with a $20 bill they found in the road when they were living in a shack," he said. "Because America is what it is, he made a wonderful life for himself and his family. It's a really remarkable story." Rove also had the audience alternately gasping and crying when he recounted a February dinner with Bud Day, a Medal of Honor recipient who spent time with McCain in a POW camp in Vietnam. "The Hanoi Hilton," Rove said. "No frequent flier miles." Day appointed McCain one of the prisoners' group chaplains for one reason: He knew McCain knew the liturgy because of the fighter pilot's ability to recall what he heard and read. Day told Rove at their dinner that he can still remember the sermon McCain gave in 1971 almost word for word. McCain told his fellow prisoners not to pray for God to get them out of there because God didn't put them there. Day wept as he recalled McCain's sermon, Rove said. "(Day) said this was the most liberating message you can image for these people in hell, these people going through deprivation and suffering," Rove said. "It really made it possible for them to go on."