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. Obamacratic

    Funny thing is that some of the thing Rove said are things that I want to say to Obama myself. I have undecided friends who are all saying that Obama is starting to look weak to them. They are starting to lean towards Clinton. Obama should consider some of the things Rove is saying.

    April 28, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. JR

    Here's one – ask Hillary to release her tax records, earmarks and presidential library donor list. Oh yeah, and pay back that $800,000 in her bank account, earned by Bill's lobbying, to Columbia.

    April 28, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  3. Vanessa

    Karl should know. Sen. Clinton is taking a few pages from his playbook. For instance, repeat false information about your opponent over and over again. Pretend that you are just like the average American while banking away a hundred million dollars and talk plain. Obama should listen to Rove's advice. If he can get that party-all-the-time boob elected to the white house, he knows what he's doing.

    April 28, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  4. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Karl Rove is Dr. Jeckel and Dr. Hide, run for the hills Obama. Karl Rove is only as smart as people allow him to be and that simply goes for anyone.

    April 28, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. California Voter

    I almost hate to say it but I agree with much of what Rove says. Having watched the campaign from the beginning, I almost have Obama's speech memorized and know all his punch lines. That being said, the biggest problem Obama has is not his race, but his character. He may consider questions about his character as "distractions" however, he has never explained how he sat for 20 years and listened to Rev. Wright's sermons and never heard anything inflammatory. Even if he didn't listen to the sermons, the church has a black value system, e.g. "non-negotiable commitment to Africa", that is not a value system that 90 percent of the population could support. It is racist. Obama has already given us some indication (through legislation on Africa and his talk with Prime Minister Brown) of his thinking regarding aid to Africa. Character and core-beliefs do count when voting for a President.

    April 28, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  6. Baljit Kumar

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

    April 28, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  7. Cindy

    Thanks but no thanks, Mr. Rove.

    What is this? Operation Chaos, Rove vs Limbaugh? Puleeese you two egomaniacs... butt out.

    April 28, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. RSP

    How dare he predict that Obama is going to win? That's wishful thinking because he knows that Hillary can beat McCain. He hopes that by stating Obama will win, voters will vote for a "winner" and make Obama the nominee. Not!

    April 28, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  9. Jack in ND

    Whatever your opinion of Karl Rove, that's good advice.

    And the man knows how to win elections.

    April 28, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  10. gary

    Nobody can tell anybody how to win. Its what you have inside you and what kind of know how you have. O.B. is finally being seen for what he really is. America dosn't want an on the job training, arrogant, racist.hater, hypocrite and smooth con man for a Leader for our country. OB . has nothing to show but a smooth speech , no solutions or no qualifications to run our country. HRC is our only chance to beat the republicans ,and bring the changes we need. GO HRC

    April 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  11. David

    I'm not voting for Obama regardless of what changes he makes to his campaign.

    April 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  12. maybe not

    He may not win the nomination.

    If he does, no amount of tweaking will regain him the Hillary democrats.

    Why?- Not race or Wright, but the unfair playing field.

    Obama did not win on the up and up. Clinton was swiftboated.
    That, is what Obama won't be able to overcome.

    April 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  13. Ana in L.A.

    Rove giving Obama advise?? Sounds really bad...

    April 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  14. GoHillary

    BO pulled ahead in the beginning because he was the darling of the Democratic party and the media who glossed over his weaknesses.

    But the longer he stays in the race, the more he is exposed as a fraud.

    Sorry OBAMABOTS but your leader is about to sink like a lead brick.

    April 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  15. KARY

    NO OBAMA 08!!!

    April 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  16. Alan Boyer

    Not bad advice. The issues that Obama faces have nothing to do with him personally. They have everything to do with his race and the labels that people place on educated black men. I wish someone would define American Values. There are a lot of things Americans believe in that conflict with the experience of black people. Just look at Obama's and Clinton's upbringing. Hard to share the same values if you have various hurdles to jump just because you are black.

    April 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  17. Key West Sun

    To little to late Carl, Rev Wright has already shot Obama down. Obama would have to say Rev Wright is a wacko after the things he has said yesterday and today. This is like it was planned so that Obama would lose the nomination. I can not believe that the good Reverend would say such things before the election in the fall. Obama couldn’t defeat G Bush now.

    April 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  18. Nicholas


    CNN has the delegate counter game thats a great tool. Now for full disclosure I started out supporting Hiliary but now support Obama, and the way Hiliary is going, even if she is the nominee, (by hook or by crook) I think I may be happier with McCain in the White House. 9As much as it pains me to say).

    Now for that counter, lets all go give that a try. For Hiliary to win this contest, she needs to win AT LEAST 60% of ALL remaining 9 contests in the states. Now this is just for her to win and beat Obama. To win the 2025 delegates needed for the nomination, she needs to win 62% of ALL 9 contests remaining. Now get this to do the above, she MUST EQUALLY win 60% of the superdelegates or 62% also of the Super delegates.

    Hiliary Suppoters, do you see this reality that she cannot win this race?

    And finally for thsoe so called polls plotting McCain beating Obama. Its been a consistent factor, the more people get to know Obama, the more his support grows. Despite, Bitter, despite Rev Wright, Despite all the mud and the kitchen sink. If the Democrats through their support behind him, despite his flaws, he WILL win. Do not forget that McCain is just cruising along as the Dems kill each other (thanks to Hiliary).

    We do not need Rove to tell us what to do to win.


    April 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  19. FNJ in Pa

    obama or noone!

    April 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. Nanc, MN

    Stomach churning and feeling this is surreal, I have to agree with Karl Rove of all people.

    April 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  21. Chris from San Antonio

    re: Barb Canada
    "margine of victory 54.6 Clinton 45.4 Obama, and if you know how to round off thats 10 %"

    9.2 rounded off is 9. No surprise Hillary supporters think they are still in the race mathematically.

    April 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  22. Censored

    Face it, Lucky, Nobama doesn't have a straight from the heart speech. At least, not one he wrote. Face it, he is an elitist who understood the numbers of African Americans who vote based on race. They follow even though he does not care to understand their needs. Just words. College students – just words. They say he attracts the educated – you wouldn't know it by reading the poor grammar of his followers posts. Just words. We need action. We need someone who will fight for all people. We need Hillary. She has proven she cares and will fight for the average person. Just Action.

    April 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  23. ObamaSupporter

    Based on history – it's hard to appreciate Karl Rove's advice, but as an ardent Obama Supporter – I agree with his insight. Regardless of motives – his advice may restore Barack's – fresh fire!

    April 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  24. wolfsbane

    Ignore Rove. He criticized Obama when he fought back, he criticized him when he didn't. You don't take advice from the enemy.

    April 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  25. Dave

    I'm an Obama supporter but I have to agree with Rove on these points.

    April 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
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