WASHINGTON (CNN) - Hillary Clinton isn't the only one worried about Barack Obama's post-Iowa momentum. A former top Republican official tells CNN Obama could win a significant portion of the Republican vote in a general election, if he becomes the Democratic nominee.
The leading Republican strategist, who requested anonymity because this person advises a number of Republican presidential candidates, told CNN "I think Barack Obama is a potential Robert Kennedy or Reagan figure." And "in terms of raw political horsepower, he is the most electable of any of the Democrats and potentially more electable than Bill Clinton. If he ran the right campaign he could appeal to a substantial number of Republicans and Independents."
This person insists an Obama nomination isn't a done deal. "He could make a mistake. His people could get overconfident. He needs to continue to push his theme even as she continues to hit him on different issues."
In the days since he won the caucuses, the New York senator's campaign has hit Obama on a number of issues, including his decision to hire a former lobbyist to manage his New Hampshire campaign, and his past position on the Patriot Act. Former President Bill Clinton compared Obama's early position on the Iraq war to President Bush's, and national reporters were summoned to an urgent conference call because some callers on the 'Do Not Call' registry had received robo-calls from Obama's campaign that Clinton's staff alleges did not fully comply with election law.
Yet Obama now holds a 10-point edge over Clinton in the new CNN/WMUR poll of New Hampshire primary voters released last night, and an even larger advantage in some other surveys.
This top Republican explains that Obama "is incredibly nice, he's likable. People want to like him. He's the personification of bringing people together. He's the personification of unity. People like that and it works."
He says Senator Clinton "lacks a gut level connection" with voters. "I'd rather run [a Republican] against her because she turns out our base. He [Obama] doesn't have the baggage she has and he appeals to Republicans and Independents in this post-partisan way."
- CNN's Jessica Yellin