By JAMIE LAROUNIS
Rove is the former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff for former President George W. Bush
Prior to the start of the forum, a group of about 20 students and community members gathered outside of George Washington Hall to protest Rove’s presence on campus.
Organized by senior Evan McLaughlin as part of the UMW Virginia Organizing grassroots group, students protested UMW bringing Rove to campus because of his prior economic history and part in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We don’t want the University spending time and money on bringing him here,” McLaughln said.
Campus police set aside a designated area on campus walk for the protestors, but at one point, the group tried to leave the designated area to walk up and down Double Drive.
The University Police quickly told them to return to the designated area on campus walk.
According to the UMW website, the Fredericksburg Forum seeks to bring intellectual, cultural, political and artistic speakers to campus for faculty, staff, students and the community.
President Rick Hurley stated that he chose Rove for two reasons.
“One, he was within our price range, and two, I thought he would really attract a crowd due to his notoriety,” said Hurley.
According to Marty Morrison, director of news and public information for UMW, It cost $40,000 to bring Rove to UMW.
Hurley anticipated having student complaints after choosing Rove to speak at the forum.
“I’m not afraid of having students with different points of view,” said Hurley. “I thought the protests were orderly, and I think that’s what college is all about.”
Rove, who is a previous National College Republicans chairman, spoke for about 45 minutes on topics ranging from the economy to health care.
Earlier in the day, Rove met with Hurley, his wife and members of the UMW College Republicans.
Erica Gouse, the chairman of the College Republicans said that her group was excited Rove came to speak at the Fredericksburg Forum.
“We believe that regardless of your political affiliation, everyone could learn a lot from him because he is an extremely successful campaign and political strategist,” said Gouse.
“He gave an hour of his time to meet the College Republicans and answer questions,” said Gouse. “He was extremely friendly and encouraging toward us.”
Most people, during the event, asked questions about the economy.
“It’s time for millionaires and billionaires to pay their fare share,” Rove said.
According to Rove, Americans should not be pitted against each other based upon their wallet size.
Rove noted that should the economy continue as it is, the U.S. would end up like Greece, except the U.S. doesn’t have a European Union to bail it out.
He addressed the 2012 Presidential Election, stating that Obama is not out of the running, and is a historic figure, capable of raising a lot of money.
Rove believes that Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry is the front-runner, whom he said, is very forward and knows what he is doing, despite the fact that Perry has had three “bad” debates so far.
When asked what good qualities are for a Presidential candidate, Rove quickly answered that the person needs to be healthy due to the long, hard days and able to hit the ground running.
He also said that a President needs to be a good decision maker and able to stick to those decisions in hard times.
According to the Office of University Events Student, faculty and staff tickets cost $15, while General Admission tickets cost $35.
Additionally, UMW sold patron tickets for $55 and orchestra pit tickets for $40.
In total, UMW sold 582 tickets for Karl Rove’s forum.
Last spring, the university sold compared 516 tickets last spring for Scott Turrow.
UMW spent $45,000 in Spring 2011 for Turrow to speak at the Fredericksburg Forum.
According to Morrison, no state funds or student fees were used to cover the cost of these shows. They are paid for by ticket sales and supplemented by the UMW Foundation.
Last year, Anthony Bourdain, American chef and author of “Kitchen Confidential,” and Scott Turrow, famous American author and lawyer, spoke.
This year’s spring forum has been replaced by the annual Great Lives lecture series.
Next year’s Fredericksburg Forum speaker will be announced in the spring on the university’s website.
Photo by Marie Sicola.