Karl Rove to speak at UC Merced

July 12, 2010 

Rove Heckled

FILE - In this Oct. 27, 2009 file photo, Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to former President George W. Bush, answers a question before a debate healthcare at Penn State University in State College, Pa. Anti-war protesters have heckled former White House political adviser Karl Rove off the stage at his book signing in Beverly Hills. About 100 Rove supporters watched Monday, March 29, 2010 as Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans walked toward him with handcuffs, calling him a war criminal and saying she was making a citizen's arrest. (AP Photo/John Beale, File)

JOHN BEALE — AP

What seemed like an impossibility earlier this year is now a reality.

UC Merced College Republicans announced Monday that Karl Rove, former senior adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, will speak at UC Merced on Oct. 8 as part of the conservative student group's speaker series.

Rove will talk about current events and the Obama presidency, with a question-and-answer session afterward. A book-signing for Rove's recent book, "Courage and Consequence," will follow.

The event will cost the Associated Students of the University of California, Merced (ASUCM), an elected body of student leaders, $25,000, said Oliver Darcy, spokesman for the UC Merced College Republicans.

ASUCM plans to recoup most of the costs though through ticket sales for the event.

"(Rove) is a prominent conservative leader and well-known political strategist," Darcy said. "He worked for the College Republicans on a national level. We felt we could relate to him."

ASUCM's annual budget is $420,000 and is comprised of student fees. This money supports campus clubs and activities.

Prior to the passage of the 2010-11 ASUCM budget, there was resistance to the event from former ASUCM president Juan Carmen and treasurer Justin Chew.

Chew said in an earlier Sun-Star report that he liked the idea of having political figures of varying viewpoints on campus, but he just didn't think paying out $25,000 was fiscally responsible.

Carmen took out the UC Merced College Republican's initial request from the proposed budget.

This mobilized the conservative group to collect more than 300 signatures from students to show ASUCM campus support for Rove's visit.

In March, a majority of ASUCM senators were finally swayed by the amount of student interest, much of it bi-partisan, and added Rove's visit back into the final budget.

Lamar Williams, current ASUCM president, said senators decided to fund the event because it would bring a lot of attention to UC Merced and would ultimately benefit the university.

"Karl Rove will be informative to our students regardless of his political affiliation," Williams said.

Michael Fincher, former ASUCM senator and current president of the College Republicans said he would have been shocked if the senators turned down the group's proposal because of all the support they received from students and faculty.

Rove's speaker fees are normally $60,000, but the group was given a discount because they are a student group, Darcy said. The student group will use its own funds to cover any additional costs associated with the event.

This will be the school's third visit in two years from a speaker with ties to the Oval Office, said UC Merced spokeswoman Brenda Ortiz.

First lady Michelle Obama was the commencement speaker for the school's first-ever full graduating class in 2009. In May, former President Jimmy Carter visited UC Merced to participate in the National Parks Institute seminar and received the university's Spendlove Prize for 2010.

"We are very proud of our students for once again taking the initiative to bring to their campus someone they truly look up to and respect," said Steve Kang, UC Merced chancellor. "We have a strong diversity of cultures and viewpoints on our campus, and we welcome what should be a spirited appearance by Mr. Rove."

The event begins at 6 p.m. in the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center on campus.

Tickets will be distributed to 325 students during the fall semester on a first-come, first-served basis, and 400 tickets will be available to the general public at $35 each.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.karlroveatucmerced.com.

Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209)385-2407 or joppenheim@mercedsun-star.com.

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