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Karl Rove: Both parties are 'broken'

Republican strategist Karl Rove is lamenting the political polarization in Washington, saying he worries that both parties are "broken."

"I think a lot of Republicans sink themselves for liking what he's doing, but not how he is doing it," Rove said of the party's relationship with President Trump. "The parties are so broken. If the leader of the party is attacked, everyone rallies around."

Rove's comments came as he and former Obama adviser David Axelrod spoke in Washington on "Leadership in an Age of Political Conflict," in a discussion moderated by former ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton, part of the Daniel K. Inouye Distinguished Lecture Series. The series, funded by the Daniel K. Inouye Institute and hosted by the Library of Congress Kluge Center, pays tribute to the late Democratic Hawaii senator's public service and ideals.

Rove and Axelrod spoke after a dramatic day on Capitol Hill, where House Democrats voted to rebuke Trump for comments they deemed racist. And while the two did not directly address that controversy, many of their remarks appeared to allude to the drama.

"It says something to me about our society in which you get rewarded with attention for being rude and crude and angry, that seems to be a lot of what social media is," Rove said.

"If you treat people like they are the enemy, if because I disagree with Karl I decide he's less American than I am, it makes it a hell of a lot harder to come to some agreement," added Axelrod.

Trump sparked a firestorm after telling a group of four minority Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to the "places from which they came."

Both Rove and Axelrod touted the importance of reaching across the aisle, as Inouye often did.

"The toughest thing in politics is to explain what you're for and what it is that you want to achieve. The easiest thing to do is trash your opponent," said Rove.

"I think both parties are exhausted," he later added. "They are these two boxers who are in the ring, beating each other up, they can barely stumble around and that's why we're seeing the battle inside the Democratic Party."

Axelrod praised Rove's former boss, President George W. Bush, remembering the seamless transition when President Obama took over in 2009.

"He understood that even though they had deep disagreements, that they were trustees of this democracy and that requires certain things," Axelrod said of Bush.

The two also looked ahead to 2020 and beyond. Rove said he hoped to see more candidates deliver a unifying message and praised Obama.

"What I see is candidates like President Obama, what an aspirational message. 'I don't want to be the president of red states, blue states, but rather the United States.' After a bitter period and the division of the country over the [Iraq] War it's exactly what the country needed to hear."

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