Karl Rove may be a lot of things, but being sorry for the 2003 invasion of Iraq is not one of them.
A 32-year-old Iraq war veteran confronted Rove at the University of Connecticut this week, calling on the former senior advisor to President George W. Bush to apologize for the horrors of that war and its lingering effects both at home and abroad.
"I've taken responsibility for my actions and dealt with my demons while advocating for a peaceful resolution for a war that was an act of aggression with no clear goal," said Ryan Hemowitz, who said he served as a medic with the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Infantry Regiment, at an event sponsored by the UConn College Republicans. "Can you take responsibility and apologize for your decision in sending a generation to lose their humanity and deal with the horrors of war, which you have never had the courage to face? Will you apologize to the millions of fathers and mothers who lost their children on both sides of this useless war?"
Rove, who helped lead the disinformation campaign that led to the 2003 Iraq invasion, refused to say he was sorry.
"We should be proud of what we were able to achieve in Iraq," Rove said, citing the alleged dangers posed by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein—the same justification war hawks offered in the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Hussein was a "state sponsor of terrorism" who "thumbed his nose at the international community," Rove said. "Fourteen times he gave the finger to the United Nations."
"I'm sorry, we have a fundamental disagreement," he concluded. "I appreciate your service, but I'm not going to apologize for our government having done the right thing by having removed Saddam Hussein from power."
Watch the full exchange below:
According to the Hartford Courant:
Also during his address to the audience at UConn, Rove commented on the 2016 presidential campaign, saying he hoped Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would enter the race. "We should be so lucky," he said, calling her "Pocahontas," a reference to her claims of Native American ancestry.
Rove was not available for comment Thursday, but Kristin Davison, chief of staff for Karl Rove & Company, said the comment about Warren was "simply making light of the fact that Sen. Warren continuously over-embellished her heritage for political benefit during the course of her 2012 campaign."