December 3rd, 2007
03:09 PM ET
3 years ago

Rove tells Obama how to beat Clinton

Former top-Bush aide Karl Rove is offering Barack Obama some advice.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is getting advice from an unlikely source: former top Bush aide Karl Rove.

The man behind Bush's two presidential victories took to the pages of the Financial Times Sunday to offer the candidate some unsolicited suggestions on how to beat rival Hillary Clinton.

In an open memo to Obama, Rove said the Illinois senator currently appears "weak and ineffectual," and should start sharpening his attacks on the New York Democrat.

"Stop acting like a vitamin-deficient Adlai Stevenson," Rove writes in reference to another Illinois Democrat who twice ran for president and lost. "Striking a pose of being high-minded and too pure will not work. Americans want to see you scrapping and fighting for the job, not in a mean or ugly way but in a forceful and straightforward way."

Rove also suggests Obama exploit the "real doubts" many Democrats feel about Clinton, take clear stances on the issues, and better articulate the type of change he is hoping to represent.

Finally, Rove says Obama needs to decry what he calls Clinton's complaints that she is "being picked on."

"Find a way to gently belittle her whenever she tries to use disagreements among Democrats as an excuse to complain about being picked on," Rove writes. "The toughest candidate in the field should not be able to complain when others disagree with her. This is not a coronation."

"Blow the whistle on her when she tries to become a victim," he continues. "Do it with humor and a smile and it will sting even more."

Rove's memo comes the same day a new poll out of crucial early-voting state Iowa shows Obama seems to have taken a lead over Clinton, 28 percent to 25 percent. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is a close third at 23 percent. With the poll's 4.4 percent margin of error, the race in the Hawkeye State is a statistical dead heat.

Responding to the memo, a Clinton campaign spokesperson said, "Why is Karl Rove giving Sen. Obama advice on how to win? Could it be that he thinks it will be easier for Republicans to run against the unknown gentleman from Illinois?"

Politico's Jim VandeHei said it's more likely Rove is seeking publicity and wants to have a voice as the election unfolds.

"If you're a gambler you want to be at the table, and he very much wants to be part of this debate," VandeHei said.

– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (334 Responses)
  1. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    May be Rove matches with Obama, they will play the same games.

    December 4, 2007 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  2. Carol---Des Miones, Iowa

    What a joke! Rove must have gotten a degree in Psychology. He really wants HRC to be the Democratic nominee-the Republicans would literally shread her. So if America takes notice of Rove giving Obama advice, they would reject the vote.

    December 4, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  3. Santosh

    Rove is just reacjing out to Obama because he probably likes the young fresh face and it reminds him a lot of the young George W. Bush, someone who may have been inexperienced but was intelligent and had a great sense of vision. I don't know if Obama has the same level of substance as President Bush did but he's certainly willing to learn and Rove likes hard-working visionary people like that.

    December 4, 2007 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  4. Kat, Fairfax,VA

    This little weasel should have been behind bars a very long time ago.. If HE is backing Obama-- I will be keeping my distance!! This man is a criminal- have a criminal giving you advise ... is dangerous....

    December 4, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. M. Gray OKC, Ok

    Why in the world would Obama seek or accept advice from Rove, the Rogue. Obama's platform is change from the old school, good ole boy politicians and pundits. Now he's pandering to a known liar and suspected treasonous criminal. What a hippocrit.

    December 4, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. John, Waco, TX

    I can't believe how short-sighted Democrats are. This is why Democrats lose to Republicans, because of strategists like Karl Rove.

    I'm a Republican who obviously would never support Obama, but this is a clear and obvious attack by Rove on Barack Obama. Rove is associating himself with Obama to try and taint him. Karl Rove knows he is poison to left-politics. He is trying to drive more people to Clinton because he knows she is easily defeatable with all of her baggage and divisiveness. Rove's memo now handicaps any attack Obama dishes out because Clinton can now say 'He's going by the Karl Rove playbook.' Then watch the hackles rise on the backs of caucus goers. You have to admit this is a brilliant move on Rove's part. It's so manipulative. But you gotta take down Obama some how since all we have against him is the "inexperience" charge and his funny name and that can only go so far.

    December 4, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  7. RuthieM

    I think Karl Rove hates the Clintons so much he really wants Obama to beat her! Because surely he isn't stupid enough to think that the Republicans can beat Obama.

    December 4, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. Bill, Daejeon, South Korea

    I was looking and looking and I found it:

    Everyone loves Obama. Karl Rove wants the best for the country and he sees that the best in the country is Obama. This doesn't mean that he thinks Obama is more likely to lose in the election. He thinnks Obama stands for change which is why he is trying to help Obama. I think it's good advice. I would love to see people call out Hilary on her lying more.

    Posted By Karsen, Iowa City iA : December 3, 2007 8:04 pm

    Bingo. Look people, there's no sinister plot here. Rove actually likes Obama, and he's trying to help him. Try not to look to far into things.

    December 8, 2007 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  9. McKay Niehl

    Please tell me why is a Republican helping a Democratic Candidate? Is it because they have him as "THEIR BOY?" or is it because they think they cannot win over Hillary Clinton and they know that in a National Election they can beat a Black Man? As a person of the Main Street America Society(which means average American Nobody)I can tell you that on a National scale, a Republican can beat Hussien Obama.

    By the way, what change is Barack Hussien Obama talking about? He has never said anything except, "It is time for a change" Well we are not fools. We know that it is time for a change because President Bush is in a term limit job. He cannot stay in office unless he decides to activate that clause in the Constitution that gives him war time privileges. So definitely it will change nomatter what. I am so dissappointed that the people in power has so little respect for our sense.

    I do not believe that there are people who are undecided. I believe the "Under 30" group that you are so fond of talking about are jumping on a Band wagon and one not good for My Country. We need experience, knowledge, foresight and people who know how to work for the betterment of America, and that is not Barac Hussien Osama. OUR MILITARY BOYS DOES NOT NEED THIS PERSON TO EVEN BE ASSUMED IN CHARGE. BUT IF CARL ROVE IS WORKING FOR HIM WE KNOW WHO IS IN CHARGE HERE!!!!!!!!!!
    I WILL BE VOTING EVEN IF I HAVE TO WALK ONE HUNDRED MILES AND I WILL BE VOTING FOR JOHN MCCAIN!!!!!!

    January 4, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
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