Rove visit ignites displays of protest, support

James Heggen

IOWA CITY- Some people hate him. Some people love him. Both were on hand Sunday night to see him.

Approximately 1,200 people filled the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union to listen, speak and protest the appearance of Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to President George Bush.

Before the speech outside of the Main Lounge, protesters shouted anti-Rove chants referring to him as a war criminal, among other things.

Inside, the audience seemed to be split among party lines. About a quarter of the audience was clearly in support of Rove, giving him a standing ovation when he appeared and several times during the speech. They also defended him when protesters shouted at him during the appearance.

Others were on the opposite side of the spectrum. One group of individuals stood up and turned their backs to Rove when he came out. They eventually walked out of the room when he came on stage. One audience member held up a sign that read “indict Rove.”

Ken Herdliska, Iowa City resident, sat towards the front of the auditorium and turned his chair and sat with his back to the stage when Rove began speaking. Herdliska kept it that way until he left mid-speech.

It was about six or seven minutes until the crowd calmed down enough for Frank Durham, associate professor in journalism at the University of Iowa, was able to start asking questions to Rove.

Durham was then interrupted in the middle of his first question by Mona Shaw and Kirk Brown, both of Des Moines, who attempted a citizen’s arrest and were eventually removed.

The event was set up as an interview in which Durham was to ask questions to Rove followed by questions by the audience.

Durham’s interview was fewer than five questions and was punctuated with cheers, jeers, and verbal abuse among audience members.

The question and answer session of the night took up most of the time with about 20 people being given the opportunity to ask Rove a question, or make a statement.