Former White House adviser Karl Rove, credited with winning two elections for President Bush, on Sunday said GOP nominee John McCain has a “very steep hill to climb” in his quest for the presidency.

Rove, who often puts a positive spin on things for the GOP, on “Fox News Sunday” offered a bleaker assessment of the state of the race from a Republican point of view. In his own electoral map, Rove has Democratic nominee Barack Obama ahead with 317 electoral votes after moving Ohio, Indiana, Colorado and Virginia to the Illinois senator’s column.

The GOP analyst noted that McCain would have to turn things around in all four states and sweep the remaining toss-up states in order to win the necessary electoral votes to prevail.

“It’s a steep uphill climb,” he said.

Rove added that McCain could turn the race if he is only down up to six points in national points. However, with the RealClearPolitics average of national polls putting Obama ahead by eight points, Rove said it would be “difficult” to make up that ground.

“What he’s got to do is pound home on two big messages. One message is, ‘I’m right on the issues and he’s wrong when it comes to taxes and the war on terror, and I’m experienced and ready to be president, and whatever his strengths and skills are, he, Sen. Obama, is not ready to be president’,” Rove said. “And you’ve got to make that message in a handful of states and repeat it constantly and hope that your ground game on Election Day is able to give you a point or two more beyond what the polls show you having.”

The GOP strategist also commented on signs that there is dissension within the ranks of the McCain campaign, including stress between vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and her handlers.

“It is a sign of undisciplined people who do not have the loyalty that they ought to have to the candidate whom they’re serving,” he said. “And it’s a sad sight to see. Nobody makes themselves look good by this process.”

Rove also acknowledged that this kind of infighting generally happens “in campaigns that are behind, and people want to make certain they escape with the best reputation they can.”

The Hill

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