By WILL LESTER
The Associated Press
Saturday, July 29, 2006; 9:02 PM
WASHINGTON -- Presidential adviser Karl Rove said Saturday that journalists often criticize political professionals because they want to draw attention away from the "corrosive role" their own coverage plays in politics and government.
"Some decry the professional role of politics, they would like to see it disappear," Rove told graduating students at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. "Some argue political professionals are ruining American politics _ trapping candidates in daily competition for the news cycle instead of long-term strategic thinking in the best interest of the country."
But Rove turned that criticism on journalists.
"It's odd to me that most of these critics are journalists and columnists," he said. "Perhaps they don't like sharing the field of play. Perhaps they want to draw attention away from the corrosive role their coverage has played focusing attention on process and not substance."
Rove told about 100 graduates trained to be political operatives that they should respect the instincts of the American voter.
"There are some in politics who hold that voters are dumb, ill informed and easily misled, that voters can be manipulated by a clever ad or a smart line," said Rove, who is credited with President Bush's victories in the 2000 and 2004 elections. "I've seen this cynicism over the years from political professionals and journalists. American people are not policy wonks, but they have great instincts and try to do the right thing."
Rove said it is "wrong to underestimate the intelligence of the American voter, but easy to overestimate their interest. Much tugs at their attention."
But he said voters are able to watch campaigns and candidates closely and "this messy and imperfect process has produced great leaders."
STORY CITY, Iowa (AP) _ Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry on Saturday challenged Democrats to take back statehouses and governor's mansions across the nation in November, saying the country becomes less safe under Republican control.
"The fact is, the United States of America is less secure today than we were five years ago," he said. "Less secure because North Korea has four or five times more weapons .... Iran is running amok, the Middle East _ the wheels are coming off, and Iraq is a quagmire."
Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said "there's a better course for America," and that begins with electing Democrats in 2006.
"Who you chose for your local races is going to have a profound impact on the country as a whole," said Kerry, who was making his fourth trip to Iowa since the state's leadoff caucuses in January 2004. He has been helping state-level candidates around the nation, and was in Story City for a $30-a-head brunch for Democrat Rich Olive, who is running for the Iowa state Senate.
Kerry insisted he's focused on helping other Democrats such as Olive win in 2006, and not on a potential run for president in 2008.
"I'm here because '06, not '08, is really important," said Kerry, who has raised and given $10 million to Democratic candidates and committees through his own political action committee.
AMES, Iowa (AP) _ Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says he took a huge political risk by taking control of the state's troubled "Big Dig" project but that he had to take action.
"The best thing politically would be to stay as far away from that tar baby as I can," he told a crowd of about 100 supporters gathered for indoor picnic.
"I'll get the blame for anything that goes wrong," he said. "But I'm sure tired of people who are nothing but talk. I'm willing to take action."
Saturday was the first out-of-state trip for Romney _ who is considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 _ since he took control of the Big Dig.
Originally a $2.6 billion highway project that created a series of traffic tunnels through the heart of Boston, the cost of the Big Dig has swelled to more than $14 billion. The project has been dogged by problems, including leaks, falling debris, delays and cost overruns.
Romney's trip to Iowa Saturday has been planned for weeks _ long before the Big Dig crisis surfaced _ and he said he felt comfortable the Big Dig was at a point where he leave the state.
"There will always be critics," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "This project is going to take months to correct and I will be available whenever I need to be there. It doesn't make a lot of sense to say home for several months. I'm not an engineer. I'm not a contractor."
On the Net:
Sen. John Kerry: http://kerry.senate.gov/