April 29th, 2008
08:50 AM ET
13 years ago

Rove tells Obama how to win

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/28/art.roveobama.gi.jpg caption="Rove is giving some free advice to Obama."](CNN) - The man widely credited for President Bush's two electoral victories just can't stop giving advice to this year's Democratic presidential candidates.

Former top Bush aide Karl Rove addresses Barack Obama directly in his latest Newsweek column, telling the Illinois senator that his once-strong candidacy has gotten weaker and that "you're making mistakes and making people worry."

Rove, who has previously used his column space in Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal to dole out advice to the candidates, specifically says the Illinois senator's reaction to the uproar over his former pastor's remarks and his comments about some small town Americans has "reinforced the growing sense you don't share Middle America's values. He also cites Obama's comments about flag pins and his relationship with 1960's radical Bill Ayers as evidence Obama is out of touch with ordinary Americans.

But the longtime Republican political strategist offers Obama six suggestions for how he can reignite his presidential campaign, starting with shaking up his stump speech, which he says sounds "old and out of touch."

Rove also suggests Obama sharpen his repudiation of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial sermons, pledge to name specific Republicans to his administration, and spend more time back in the Senate to burnish his chops as legislator. Obama, Rove says, also needs to stop responding to Clinton's attacks and offer more concrete policy proposals.

"You have talent, intelligence and tapped into something powerful early in your campaign. But running for president is unlike anything you've ever done," Rove writes. "While you'll almost certainly win the nomination, Democrats are nervous about the fall. You've given them reasons to be.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Karl Rove
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Donald from SC

    Just ask Karl Rove why his mother killed herself after learning how he thinks. That was after his father rejected him because Rove was anti gay, and hiw father was gay.

    April 28, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  2. Larry, Apex, North Carolina

    Karl Rove is a scumbag; the very type of politician we want to get rid of. Get your fat face out of the picture Carl. Your ego is smelling up the place.

    April 28, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  3. Linda, Brooklyn Park, MN

    Wow. When I saw the headline, I thought it would say, "Rove tells Obama how to win: Sell your soul and cheat like mad." I'm surprised to see the contrary. . .

    April 28, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  4. Rove Is Not To Be Trusted!

    Well, now, isn't this interesting? Rove giving Obama advice? Why would he do this? This guy is NOT to be trusted. He is a Republican through-and-through. One of the tenets of running in a campaign is that you NEVER allow a critcism or accusation to stand unresponded to. Rove is trying to do Obama in.

    April 28, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  5. Aaron, ATL

    I'm for Obama and I hate to say it but this guys is actually right on some points, lol. I won't say his campaign has weakened (look at the funding he got last month and steady stream of superdelegates joining him) but submit that public perception is pliable and people are fickle. He needs to sweep next week and there will be again pressure for Hillary to quit and then she'll win WV and we'll be having this same discussion. I think he should get Michelle to put on the boxing gloves with Hillary and he with Bill and lets see what happens. best 2 out of 3, and move on to November, lol

    April 28, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. kathleen san juan

    Obama GAINS in every state where he campaigns. Increases by 10%-30% in every state including Ohio and Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton has LOST thousands of votes in every state she has campaigned in.
    She has dropped 10-30% in EVERY state . She did not pick up voters in Penn....once she started campaigning she lost voters to Obama.

    My Uncle Ralph lives in Penn, near Scranton. He would never vote for a black candidate, no matter how he bowled, what he said, what he ate, what he drank or didnt drink. Everyone knows this elephant is in the room. The media should stop blaming Obama for not being able to win the racist vote. It is disgusting. And the Clintons really should stop gloating . Go ahead. Take Uncle Ralph's vote. Just dont pretend you earned it. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

    April 28, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  7. dee white

    Rove is pure evil....That's all we need is Obama taking tips from the devil to win a campaign? Is selling out really the best advice for him? Rove obviously hates Hillary so much because she is a strong woman and has...and will continue to stand up against him. GO HILLARY.....BOOOOOO ROVE

    April 28, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  8. Ben

    I appreciate your update on the Penn primary but I hate to inform you that it does not round out to 10%. 54.6-45.4 = 9.2 hence rounded off gives 9%

    "Barb Canada April 28th, 2008 5:32 pm ET

    I agree he needs help….you can only hear the exact same stump speech before you start begging for CHANGE! New Pennsylvani tally has Hillary back up to the 10 % margine of victory 54.6 Clinton 45.4 Obama, and if you know how to round off thats 10 %"

    April 28, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  9. linda

    Rove's advise is tantamount to 'business as usual.' I do not understand why most Americans cannot see through BS, actually I had given us more credit, but I am beginning to become concerned about the 'dumbing down of our population.' We let CNN lie about the content of speeches by J. Wright, only so that they could have something negative to link to Obama. Even after the speeches have been played in their entirety, there are still some people who insist that the man is a racist, which makes me wonder if they have in fact viewed the speeches. Also, the flag pen thing, neither hillary nor either one of the "moderators" was wearing a flag pen – why was it so important that Obama put one on. Another 'debate' would only give them an opportunity for another high tech lynching. The news media was still talking about the Wright controversy – every day – so it does not matter that Wright chose to address the issue on PBS (they would still be playing the same soundbytes) I am beginning to think that this country has more propaganda than China and Iraq put together. Oh, by the way, we might want to consider that the rest of the world is watching us – if we eliminate a candidate simply because of his race, what does that say about our 'democratic' nation?

    April 28, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  10. PCS / North Carolina

    Barb Canada wrote April 28th, 2008 5:31 pm ET

    "I agree he needs help….you can only hear the exact same stump speech before you start begging for CHANGE! New Pennsylvani tally has Hillary back up to the 10 % margine of victory 54.6 Clinton 45.4 Obama, and if you know how to round off thats 10 %"

    No it is 9% not 10%. Learn your math.

    April 28, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  11. Rabblerouser

    The republicans are terrifed of Hillary getting the nomination, that's very clear. They know she's the only one who can beat McCain. I wonder if the Dems are stupid enough to fall for the Republicans trap; I think they are; they'll put up Obama, and lose in November. Too bad, because we really do need someone good in the White House and McCain and Obama just aren't that person.

    April 28, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  12. james19

    Does anyone know anyone that can play the drums?

    Oh, and Joseph, you misspelled Mr. Rove's name.

    April 28, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  13. Debbie

    Everyone seeems to have forgotten – the only reason Clinton is still around is that the Replicans have been voting for Clinton to keep the race going – how does that show in the polls???

    April 28, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  14. Canadian

    Dear Barb Canada,
    Canada does not want Clinton. Canada wants Obama. Stop posting as you can't even vote. You math is wrong, stop making us look dumb.

    April 28, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  15. James

    Obama is the candidate endorsed by the Hamas Group & the Republicans, I wonder why???? Obama is the easy candidate!

    I wonder why people still support this amateur, inexperienced senator of 2 yrs from IL? Obamacans are now tired of the same rhetorics from their rockstar idol, see there, there's no substance to all his rhetorics. Only empty promises!

    Republicans are afraid of HILLARY, she will defeat them all, even with debates, she is witty & she has the power of words, compared to Mc Cain & Obama!

    April 28, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  16. Ostriches burying our heads in the sand

    Hmmmm.............for once Rove has some fair advice to offer....never thought I would use 'Rove' and 'fair' in the same sentence!!

    April 28, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  17. Big John

    Rove telling Obama how to win? I thought Hillary was using Rove's dirty tactics. If Rove is telling Obama how to win, then let him, he got Bush elected.

    Sen. Obama: GET THE NOMINATION THEN DROP ROVE LIKE A HOT POTATOE?(deer in the headlights).

    April 28, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  18. Tjaye

    Whatever! Rove is in the act to push against Obama, now. People don't realize how the Republicans are afraid of Obama. They are promoting his "downfall" and the pundits are talking like Hillary has a shot, so people will want to jump on that bandwagon. One would think they want Hillary over Obama. I suppose with Bush being the only person with a lower unfavorable rating than Hillary, she'd be their choice to run against.

    I love that he would have to be caught with a Qu'ran, two joints and a second wife in order for Hillary to get the votes to beat him. He's in...or McCain will be.

    Obama O-8!!

    April 28, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  19. John

    Could democrats have new fresh authorities and subjectivity in Sen. Bill Nelson, Rep. Judge Hastings -both of Florida and the former Gorvenor of Michigan to take over from DNC leadership(present) to take over and bring some honesty and credability in this scrambled DNC body?

    April 28, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |

    Baljit Kumar April 28th, 2008 5:57 pm ET

    I watch CNN everyday. I believe CNN covering and supporting Obama so much I suggest to change CNN name to BON.(Barack Obama Network).

    Some bloggers complain this would be the 'Clinton News Network'.

    I actually don't agree that they favor one over the other – not more than other networks. Clinton is kind of 'protected' in all media outlets. Her last name saves her for a long time from being booted from the nomination process – let's be honest about it.

    She can even lie and celebrate her allegiance with McCain in public .. and it's 'ok'. At this point it's McCain/Clinton marching as one force against the Newcomer ... both are establishment and they know what they have to lose when change is coming to America!

    April 28, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  21. applecrispbetty

    Liz Marquez: Watch the Moyers interview. In the real world, when you listen to somebody, you don't agree 100% with them. But first you have to see what they say. Maybe what you don't like is just 2%.

    April 28, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  22. mimi de la cruz for OBAMA

    So CNN moderated my comments to death.

    Let me try again.


    April 28, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  23. PCM01

    Seven comments from a neighbour.

    * 'the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing'.stay focused.
    * do not fall into any of the traps that the bad guys are throwing along your trail.
    * challenge any attacks coming your way. the clinton's are vulnerable.remember that in this country ,civility and kindness are also percieved as a sign of weakness.
    * bring back some of the enthusiasm you showed us until not too long ago. positive vibes are contagious.
    * explore connections from the clinton's team with jeremiah wright and/or farrakhan ( ed rendell, rev marcia dyson, shiela jackson lee, didn't the clintons invited jeremiah right to the white house during the impeachment procedures?)
    * you are the front runner,close this deal. do not try to keep everybody happy...if you do this, nobody will be happy.
    *you have what it takes, lead us to the place where changes will take place.

    April 28, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  24. Dick in Sioux Falls

    I am so distressed that this really fine man has been so butchered by Hillary Clinton with lies, and subtly racial innuendos. I even heark back to her response when asked if she though he was a Muslim....
    "No,.....not that I know of."
    You are the one who has inspired millions. By the way, if we're going to award the Presidency on Speech awards, let's make the award not for Debate, but for Original Oratory.
    But Rove, as much as I hate to say it, is right about getting back to your fire. In fact, a Debate without former Clinton Staffers asking the question, might really be to your advantage in reclaiming your offense.

    April 28, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. A.M. Saqib

    Carl Rove is making a point for whatever it is worth... never underestimate the apparanetly opponent's point of view. Besides he is not necessarily an opponent. I think after 'Obama' wins the democratic nomination, he should perhaps listen to 'Carl Rove' ideas attentively, it might work for general election againes 'McCain". How about asking 'Car'l Rove' to join 'Obama' adminsitration; an idea might attract lot of republicans to vote for 'Obama'.

    For primaries contest 'Obama' is on the right track. Another thing 'Cral Rove' is also right; "Do not pay any attention to Hillary critcizing for any thing, as she is perhaps worth no more than a dime.

    April 28, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
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