Rove, Dean Square Off; Offer Predictions

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AUSTIN, Texas — More than 200 Texas credit union representatives, along with 100 Texas legislators and staff, witnessed a 75-minute "no-pulled punches" debate between two top political pundits during the Texas Credit Union League's Signature Dinner here.

Former Presidential Candidate, Democratic National Committee Chair, and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean squared off against former White House official and political advisor to President George W. Bush, Karl Rove at the event, which was moderated by Evan Smith, the CEO of the Texas Tribune. The event was part of the TCUL's Governmental Affairs Conference, held every other year to coincide with the Texas Legislative session.

The Texas league noted that Austin resident Rove had the "home team advantage," particularly given the most recent election in which Texas Republicans have a commanding majority in the State House and Senate. Dean, however, noted he is a long-time credit union member and proudly wore an "I love my Credit Union" button, then took the first few swings in a debate before a capacity crowd.

Rove and Dean debated issues such as the root causes of the economic crisis, the current situation in Egypt, and illegal immigration legislation, as well as pontificating on possible 2012 presidential election scenarios. Both agreed that if unemployment is reduced to under 85 by 2012, President Obama stands a chance to get re-elected, but unemployment levels above that 8% rate would make it much tougher.

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