Rove to GOP Candidates: Define Yourselves Before Harry Reid Does

Image: Rove to GOP Candidates: Define Yourselves Before Harry Reid Does

Thursday, 03 Apr 2014 07:35 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Republican U.S. Senate candidates need to define themselves quickly against their better known opponents, or else Democratic PACs will sully them, GOP strategist Karl Rove wrote in a commentary in The Wall Street Journal.

In West Virginia, South Dakota, and Montana — red states where incumbent Democrats retired — Republican candidates have solid leads. By mid-April, Democratic donors may decide to back off rather than squander additional resources. This means West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito, South Dakota's Mike Rounds, and Montana's Steve Daines "are positioned to win if they keep the pressure on," Rove wrote.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

Incumbent Democratic senators in four red states, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina, with strong name recognition, are struggling against lesser known GOP challengers.

GOP contender Dan Sullivan is tied with Sen. Mark Begich in Alaska. Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas is just slightly behind Sen. Mark Pryor. In North Carolina, State House Speaker Thom Tillis is narrowly trailing Sen. Kay Hagan. Rep. Bill Cassidy is ahead of Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana.

Even in blue state Colorado where the Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall has strong name recognition challenger Rep. Cory Gardner trails by just 2 points.

"An incumbent with much higher name recognition than an opponent— but only a narrow lead this early on— is evidence of a low ceiling of support. It also suggests that the challenger can rise as his background, values and agenda becomes better known," Rove wrote.

That is why Sen. Harry Reid's Majority PAC will "want to define the GOP candidates before they define themselves," Rove wrote.

What GOP candidates need to do is emphasize the troubled economy, Obamacare, the national debt, and the country's need for a strong military, according to Rove. They should tie Democratic incumbents to Obama's policies, the strategist wrote. At the same time, Republican candidates have to talk about their own history and values.

Republican are allowed to be positive about their prospects, but they shouldn't get smug, according to Rove.

Democratic leaders such as Reid "will make certain these races get very intense and very ugly soon," he wrote.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

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