Karl Rove, a Republican strategist and former White House adviser to President George W. Bush, told S.C. Republicans Saturday they must re-elect U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson and retire Democratic U.S. Rep. John Spratt.
"(Democrats) want Joe Wilson out, they know what a strong symbol he is," said Rove of the Lexington Republican who has been targeted by national Democrats after last year shouting "you lie" at President Obama during a nationally televised joint session of Congress.
"They want him out. They know what it would mean in red, red, South Carolina to get him out of here. They're trying to pull a surprise on us; let's pull one on them. Let's retire Spratt."
Rove was the keynote speaker at the S.C. Republican Party's 43rd annual Silver Elephant Dinner. The dinner capped a big political weekend in South Carolina that included two gubernatorial debates and both parties' annual fundraising dinners.
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The Silver Elephant Dinner ended with a straw poll, a staple of election years. In the Republican race for governor, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett (37 percent) eked out a victory over Attorney General Henry McMaster (34 percent). Lexington Rep. Nikki Haley finished third with 19 percent and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer finished in last place with 10 percent.
Admission to hear Rove ran at least $100, which bought a single seat, a chicken dinner and hours of speeches, including from the Republican candidates for governor. Those who paid up to $1,500 got access to a private reception, a photo with Rove and an autographed copy of his new book.
Rove, who spoke for more than an hour, talked mostly about President Barack Obama's federal stimulus package and recently passed health care overhaul.
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