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. Winkzilla, Tucson

    Karl Rove telling Barack Obama that he is out of touch with the American people is amusing. What Karl Rove means by “being out of touch with the American people” is that he does not know how to manipulate people to one’s own end and purpose. That is telling of Karl Rove, not Barack Obama.

    The power of Barack Obama is that he is not the greasy manipulative politician that will say anything to get ahead. He will work for all Americans. That is a problem for those in power. That is why we are reduced to Mad Max media when it comes to the presidency. The reason I will be nervous about November are all the hate people that will lie and engage in fear propaganda ads rather than have a real dialog with the American people.

    The question becomes, is our media pawns to their manipulation or are they part of the power elitists as well?

    April 28, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  2. barb canada is an idiot

    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 %

    I don't know where you learned your Math, but let me teach you something you didn't learn since you obviously didn't finish middle school. 54.6-45.4=9.2. Now, numbers that end in .5 or greater get rounded up. This number ends in .2 therefore it rounds down.

    Looks like some more Hillary math to me...

    Intelligent People for a Better America

    April 28, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  3. Susan MO

    We don't need you help. Get lost! Go help McSame

    April 28, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  4. Carl

    Actually, not a bad idea. People are too lazy to go online and find out what Obama's view is on policy (for some reason), so he does need to give specifics on policy.

    Even so, the only way for him to lose is for the supers to overturn the popular vote and the delegate count – yes that's right he does have the popular vote despite what Clinton says.

    April 28, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  5. I hate to admit it

    I dislike Rove a lot, but he's got some strong points. Wow, can't believe I'm writing this.

    Obama08!

    April 28, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  6. Ed

    As much as I detest Rove, he is right on this point. I am staunch Obama supporter, but he's appearing soft and flabby. He needs to buck up, sharpen his policy points, and start focusing on the issues facing people. Enough distractions, let's get back to the basics: bringing the country together through policies that will garner bi-partisan support.

    April 28, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  7. ML Holmes in OKC

    Senator Obama has lost the respect of middle America, both White and Black citizens. He can not represent the moral, family or political values of the average American family. He can not leave his soiled past behind regardless how he tries. His policies are copied from Senator Clinton's campaign. He has nothing to give to America except empty promises just like the ones he told so. Chicago people to get him elected in the first place. That district is not what America should look like: proverty, drugs, crime, gangs, etc. He should just go back home and stand betweem the victims and the shooters.
    Vote for McCain or Clinton.

    April 28, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  8. Indu B

    I do not think it will make a different whether Obama listens to him or not. Anyway, why Obama is losing the momentum? Because slowly but steadily people are coming out of the "change mantra's temporary glitter". People of this country are intelligent – and they are now figuring out behind all that there is not much new he can offer which hillary cannot. There are hair-line differences between their proposals and policy, but Hillary has much more wisdom and experience than him. I guess PA vote clearly shows that older people, people of wisdom clearly chosen Hillary and she is in a much better position and much better person to lead this country. All I see on CNN blog and elswhere that people who are against Hillary are so emotional. To them: please think with your brain, not with your heart. All that glitters is not gold. This is a question of appointing somebody to lead our country, the most important job in the world... do not be emotional, see the facts and judge – and you will know Hillary is the right decision.

    Go Hillary !!!

    CNN, when will my comment see the daylight?

    April 28, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  9. Bob J.

    Why does Rove want Obama to win?

    Because Obama's the only Democrat who can lose to Cain.

    All the nonsense stops when the two final candidates debate side-by-side.

    That's where people see Obama at his worst – as a kid with three weeks of U.S. Senate experience who doesn't understand the basics of foreign policy, education, economics, the environment, etc.

    That's why he won't debate Hillary one-on-one . . . he'll look like an idiot.

    April 28, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  10. Susan MO

    Obama lacks experience to be president.

    This is a big concern.

    He refuses another debate, he spoke rudely to the people of Pennsylvania, and lacks experience.

    Hillary o8 🙂

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

    The fact that Mr. Obama is against exactly the kind of politics that Rove advocates apparently didn't sink in.....

    Seriously, I despise what Rove has done to politics in this country. Step 1, play on people's fear, step 2 ???, step 3.... you know the rest.

    April 28, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  12. Ladyleo

    I agree, Obama needs to ignore Hillary because she is trying to keep him off focus.

    April 28, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  13. Peter, MN

    Rove is right. Obama cannot continue to be Jesus of America who will offer the next cheek when Clinton slaps him. I think it is time for Obama to ask Clinton about her role in her husband's White House sexual scandal. The Media is helping to kill Obama's political spirit. If the media wants to be fair, let them spend 3week talking about how Clinton's inability to perform her First Lady responsibilities helped her husband's sexual scandal. I think, empirical minds, will understand why Rev. Wright is right while all those who criticize him are wrong. It is evil to link Obama to his former Pastor, while covering Hillary Clinton from Bill's scandal.

    April 28, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  14. Larry B

    The only reason Rove wants Obama to be the Democratic nominee is becasue he knows McCain can beat Obama but would have difficulty beating Clinton.

    April 28, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  15. AlanBTR

    Rove trying to help Obama? I am not surprised. The Republicans WOULD LOVE to have Obama as the Democratic Nominee.

    I am so glad Hillary has stayed in this. Hopefully the dems will recognize that Obama will be weak in the general election before it's too late.

    April 28, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  16. tren

    The is a sly move from Rove to make the American people dought the awsome Obama campain and it's undeniable abilty to win to GE. I am comfident Obama will put on his blinders to block out McCain, Clintons, Rove, etc. and run this race to the VICTORY!!

    April 28, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  17. D Hodges 10

    In five words: I agree with Karl Rove. As a lifelong Dem, I never thought I utter those words.

    April 28, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  18. dave

    Karl Rove- A man that can be trusted...just like a Clinton.

    April 28, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  19. Kyle in SD

    Dave in Houston, your response was hilarious, lol.

    But for the rest of you, please.. c'mon... it's clear that by some of your responses, some of you don't even know who Karl Rove is! Trust me, and the other skeptical people who have commented, there IS an alterior motive. Also, check the polls in addition to just speaking with republicans... they WANT Hillary. Those of you saying otherwise are dillusional. They know how to beat Hillary, and Republicans would come out the woodworks with cash to defeat her. Obama throws them off their game. They are scrounging for dirt on him; and also hurting from the fact that many Republicans plan to vote for him. The positive thing about Hillary beating up on Barack, is that come the GE, we would have already heard all these "issues," and would have moved on.

    April 28, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  20. DC Insider

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and the biggest enemy that McCain and the Republicans could face in the general election is Hillary Clinton. So it would be better for McCain to have Obama as the nominee, becasue Republicans know that can beat him in an electoral contest, whereas Clinton owns the Democratic base and the large electoral states and would easily beat McCain

    April 28, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  21. Lenore Z.

    Who know what his devious motives are, but a couple of Rove's ideas aren't bad. Especially about Obama getting a little more forceful in separating from Wright's notions. Wright, while a smart man with a lot of credentials, is basically a sideshow to the Obama campaign and seems to be full of himself, to say the least. He's not acting like a friend to Obama, so Obama doesn't need to feel loyal to him anymore. Now that Wright has had his 15 minutes of fame, let's move on, he's irrelevant.

    April 28, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  22. Sally

    A. Pinto: You are nuts!

    April 28, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  23. tom

    he is smart.he is saying .......good for obama.

    April 28, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  24. Obama Supporter

    Although I'm not a fan of Rove, I have to agree with him on this one. I'll also add that and say that he should attack Clinton on all her mistakes as well. Its clear that being cordial went out the door in this nomination process. I understand that you didn't want to damage her too much if she's the nominee but she won't be the nominee and she won't go away either so its time to start putting her in her place. She divisive, self-centered, inconsiderate and has taken a kamikaze style approach in her campaign. The gloves have to come off NOW.

    April 28, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  25. TI

    These pundits are idiots. HILLARY CAN"T WIN w/o the majority of black votes in the general election. Swing states are considered swing b/c whites are split and usually it's the black turnout that can make the difference. She sold herself to the devil so she is finished. She pissed off the most dedicated base of the party. She can't win the South and Penn and Ohio will swing to the moderate Republican McCain. Even blacks will vote for him. He kinda remind us blacks of an Eisenhower type. Eisenhower was a republican but received a substantial amount of black votes in 1956 b/c of his supportive stance of sending federal troops to protect the Little Rock 9. All the conspiracy theorists are saying she really wants it 2012. So her plan is to destroy Barack and let McCain get 1 term. Funny thing is the lady is awful when she plans. Hey whatever happen to the "Inevitable Candidate"? Remember that!!!!

    April 28, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
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