Akron, Ohio (CNN) – David Plouffe, one of President Obama's top political advisers, said Tuesday that the Republican Party has been overwhelmed by a "Beck-Palin-Limbaugh wing" that will make it impossible for the GOP to nominate a viable general election candidate in 2012.
"If you are a moderate Republican thinking about running in a primary for any office in 2011 and 2012, you are going to have to think twice, because you are going to get the Mike Castle treatment," Plouffe said in an interview in Ohio, where he is campaigning for Gov. Ted Strickland. "So they are going to nominate more and more extreme Republicans who are doing very well among that Palin-Limbaugh-Beck base."
The soft-spoken Plouffe spent the day appearing with Strickland at a rowdy union hall in Cleveland and a more subdued room of college students at the University of Akron, offering stern warnings to Democrats about the consequences of staying home in November and allowing Republicans to implement "the same economic policies that led us to the brink of a great depression."
Though he stressed that he and other top Democrats remain focused on the midterm elections, he said the GOP's lurch to the right is certain to hurt the party beyond November.
Pointing to Senate nominees like Sharron Angle and Rand Paul, he said moderate voters are sure to be turned off by Republicans who support privatizing or scrapping Social Security.
"This is particularly dangerous in presidential years, where turnout is larger, you have more moderate voters, and turnout spikes among some of our core groups," he said.
Plouffe insisted that the White House is not preoccupied with Sarah Palin, despite frequent references to her by the president and other top administration officials.
He also dismissed as "nuts" Palin's suggestion, made in her memoir and in a recent tweet, that Obama's new chief-of-staff Pete Rouse borrowed the 2008 campaign theme of "Change" from her 2006 gubernatorial bid.
"We don't spend much time thinking about her," he said. "I think that long term, the more sway and power she has in the Republican Party, the worse off the Republican Party will be."
"If the Republican Party believes that Sarah Palin is their savoir, more power to them," he added. "It will be a fascinating primary because no matter whether she runs or not, that Limbaugh-Palin-Beck wing of their party is going to be the most dominant factor in most primaries and caucuses. In Iowa, in South Carolina, in Nevada, so you are going to have to nominate someone that does well in that wing."