Why Does Karl Rove Want to Fight Clint Eastwood?

by InvestorPlace Staff | February 7, 2012 10:13 am

Dirty Harry star Clint Eastwood recorded a Super Bowl ad for automaker Chrysler, which aired Sunday to many rave reviews. The so-called “halftime in America” ad talks about a down and out Detroit fighting its way back from recession.

Unfortunately, not everyone was thrilled with the gravely voiced Eastwood ad. Karl Rove and some other conservatives are outraged by the political undertones of the ad. After all, the “resurgence” of Detroit came in part to billions in bailouts for General Motors (NYSE:GM[1]) and Chrysler at the hand of the Obama administration.

Check out the full spot below, if you didn’t get a chance to see it during the Super Bowl advertising blitz.

“I was, frankly, offended by it,” said Rove, a former advisor to Republican president George W. Bush,  on Fox News Monday. “I’m a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising.”

Other GOP operatives are less concerned with Chrysler and the bailouts than what they see as an endorsement for Barack Obama’s second term. As in, 2008 to 2012 was the first half and Election Day will usher in Obama’s “second half.”

The irony here is that  Clint Eastwood bad-mouthed the bailouts himself not long ago. “We shouldn’t be bailing out the banks and car companies,” he told the L.A. Times last year[2]. “If a CEO can’t figure out how to make his company profitable, then he shouldn’t be the CEO.”

Further complications come from Eastwood’s self-avowed libertarian politics and ties to the GOP. Believe it or not, George H.W. Bush considered[3] asking Eastwood to be his running mate in 1988 — no doubt wanting to ride the celebrity coattails of another movie star after Ronald Regan’s success. Eastwood said[4] in 2011 that he couldn’t recall ever voting for a Democratic presidential candidate, most recently in 2008 when he backed Sen. John McCain over Obama.

There are certainly some fishy elements here.  Both David Axelrod, Obama’s campaign manager, and Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, praised the spot. And it’s hard to deny that automakers and unemployment are too politically charged to just throw around and act like their innocuous.

But is Clint Eastwood pushing some sinister political agenda here? It seems unlikely. What do you think? Drop us a line at letters@investorplace.com and weigh in, or share your opinions in the comment section below.

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  1. GM: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=GM
  2. told the L.A. Times last year: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2011/11/clint-eastwood-talks-politics-whos-the-one-democrat-that-he-voted-for.html
  3. considered: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/10/clint-eastwood-as-vp-george-h-w-bush-considered-it/
  4. said: http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Interview+Clint+Eastwood+Republican+with+twist/5692006/story.html

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