By Karin Caifa in Washington, D.C.
Karl Rove, the former top adviser and campaign strategist to President Bush, doesn't have a horse in this year's race for the White House, but that's not stopping him from enjoying the event.
"The primaries are far from over," he told an audience in Washington Wednesday. "We've got a lot more fun yet to come."
Rove was the featured speaker before a gathering of state GOP executive directors at the Republican National Committee's Winter Meeting. He outlined a strategy for this year's GOP nominee to win the White House, but had plenty more to say about the opposing party.
"The Democrats running for president may attack each other, but there are a lot of things that they share in common on the big things," Rove said.
Specifically, he took aim at the two top Democrats: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. "She claims to have fiscal responsibility," he said of Clinton. "She talks about the need to be fiscally responsible, and, yet, if you look at it, she's already proposed $800 billion in new spending and the campaign is less than half over. She says, quote, 'I have a million ideas and the country can't afford them all.' For once, I agree with Senator Clinton."
Rove mocked Clinton's victory in last night's Michigan primary, largely a beauty contest due to national party sanctions stripping the state of its delegates. Clinton, the only major candidate on the Democratic ballot, took 55 percent of the vote. Three other candidates - Kucinich, Dodd and Gravel - got five percent of the vote combined, with the remainder voting "undecided."
"She's running against nobody and nobody gets 40 percent of the votes," Rove chided. "The other five percent of the vote went to three other people. 27,924 votes went for the guy who believes in UFOs, the guy who dropped out, and the guy who last held public office somewhere around 1855."
Rove's words for Obama were no kinder. "He was elected to the United States Senate three years ago," he said of the Illinois lawmaker. "He's spent almost the entire time running for president. In fact, he's managed to pass one piece of legislation while he's been in the United States Senate for three years."
"Before that, in his short career in the Illinois legislature, he had an unusual habit. He would show up and vote present on controversial topics. He wouldn't say that he was for it or against it. He'd simply show up and vote present."
With that kind of competition, Rove seemed pretty sure that his party will remain in control of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come Inauguration Day 2009. But he offered four helpful hints for the GOP nominee to seal the deal on November 4, including creating a sustained narrative about who they are; engaging voters on the issues like education, health care and jobs; campaigning aggressively for votes they don't traditionally get, like in the African-American and Latino communities, and showing strength on the issue of the war in Iraq.