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.
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