(CNN) - It was an issue that caused a stir last fall, and one that former Bush strategist Karl Rove predicts may plague Barack Obama in the general election.
In a newly-published interview with GQ magazine, Rove says Obama's reluctance to wear a flag pin on his lapel may translate as elitism to many blue collar democrats.
"There are Democrats, particularly blue-collar Democrats, who defect to McCain because they see McCain as a patriotic figure and they see Obama as an elitist who's looking down his nose at 'em, which he is," Rove told the magazine.
"That comment where he said, you know, 'After 9/11, I didn't wear a flag lapel pin because true patriotism consists of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin?’ Well, to a lot of ordinary people, putting that flag lapel pin on is true patriotism. It's a statement of their patriotic love of the country. And for him to sit there and dismiss it as he did…" Rove added.
The Obama campaign declined to comment on Rove's remarks.
In early October, an Iowa reporter asked Obama why he was not wearing a flag pin on his lapel, as many politicians do. The Illinois senator said he wore one shortly after 9/11, but later decided to show his patriotism in other ways.
"After a while, you start noticing people wearing the lapel pin but not acting very patriotic,” he said then. “My attitude is that I'm less concerned with what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those ones who serve."
His Democratic rivals at the time dismissed it as a non-issue, but the comments were posted on several conservative blogs, and sparked several anonymous e-mails that questioned Obama's patriotism.
In the new interview with GQ, Rove suggested the comments were among those that showed Obama is "coolly detached and very arrogant."
"I think he's very smart and knows he's smart, but as a result doesn't do his homework," Rove also said.
In the wide ranging interview, Rove also praised Clinton's now-famous 3 a.m. as "gutsy."
"It was a gutsy, dangerous move - She figured out that she had to do something to raise the issue of: Is he fit to be president? And this was a way to do it," he said. "I happened to be in Texas a week before the ad popped, and all of her surrogates were hitting him pretty hard on the thinness of his experience. They were pretty brutal. And this ad sort of fed into that."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney