Ignore the primary polls; they don't mean anything at this point in the 2016 race to the White House, Karl Rove advises Republican presidential aspirants.
In an opinion piece in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal
, the deputy chief of staff for former President George W. Bush says the GOP nomination is "a likely ticket to the White House" because of the "mounting rubble of the Obama presidency."
But anyone hoping to be the GOP standard-bearer for 2016 will have to make 2014 "more inspiring than personal ambition," he said.
"Acting selflessly to elect others is the most self-interested thing presidential hopefuls can do" next year, he said.
One compelling challenge for presidential candidates will be to "resist the temptation" to spend most of 2014 in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, the three earliest primary contests, or, Rove warned, run the risk of having no national network to win the nomination and a reputation "for being self-obsessed."
More importantly, he advised, aspirants should work to help the GOP win congressional seats and governorships.
Rove's advice for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as chairman of the Republican Governors Association is to "barnstorm the 30 states with gubernatorial elections."
Sens. Ted Cruz and Rob Portman, vice chairmen of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, can "help in the critical battle for the upper chamber," and Sen. Rand Paul, a leader of the party's libertarian element, and tea party favorite Sen. Marco Rubio can both "boost their 2016 chances by making it about the GOP team next year, not themselves," Rove said.
Republican Govs. John Kasich, Susana Martinez, Brian Sandoval, Rick Snyder, and Scott Walker, Rove urged, should concentrate on re-election by "healthy margins and with messages that inspire Republicans beyond their states."
Rep. Paul Ryan "must similarly win re-election while also leading the GOP in the congressional budget battles," he said.
Rove said GOP Govs. Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry, former Govs. Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee, and former Sen. Rick Santorum — all without any re-election campaigns — should "say exactly what's on their minds, to speak as liberated rather than programmed, and to do all they can to advance the party's cause in the midterm elections" if they want a shot at the White House.
All the aspirants, however, need to get out on the road to practice — and "avoid saying stupid things and reinforcing stereotypes."
"In politics, practice doesn't make perfect, but it does make better," Rove said.
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