Political strategist Karl Rove says President Barack Obama’s likeability is his strength in this year’s election, despite the moribund economy, but he is still losing crucial independent voters. Rove also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s trips to Israel and Poland could garner him important voting blocs.
“The president is losing among independents today in virtually every public poll, and that’s a problem because he won independents in 2008 by an 8 point margin over Sen. John McCain,” Rove said. “So to be losing them shows a big shift among independents.
“It is a strength that President Obama is liked by so many people,” he said. “They just simply disagree deeply with a lot of what he has done.”
Rove, who was President George W. Bush’s key political strategist and now runs the Crossroads GPS super PAC, predicted that Obama’s would have even a more difficult time holding onto independent voters as the campaign narrows toward November.
“Here’s the problem for President Obama: When it comes to the economy, independents look like Republicans,” Rove said. “That is to say, they are less favorable to the president than Democrats and look a lot more like Republicans when it comes to rating the president poorly on the economy.”
Turning to Romney’s trip to Great Britain, Israel, and Poland, Rove said it would allow the Republican candidate “to look presidential” while drawing sharp contrasts between his own views and how Obama has conducted U.S. foreign policy.
The trips to Israel and Poland, he suggested, could translate into large blocs of votes in November, depending how Romney is received.
“In the greater scheme of things, they don't determine elections. A visit to Poland won’t sway the election,” he said, but added it could have a positive impact on Polish-American voters in some of the nation’s biggest cities.
“Same with the visit to Israel. This is a very important voting bloc,” Rove said. “If Mitt Romney only gets the same percentage of the Jewish vote in Florida that President Bush got in '04, it would cut Barack Obama’s winning margin in Florida by one-third. That's how important the voting bloc is.”
Both countries, he said, have had “the rug jerked out from underneath them” by the president, causing strained relations.
As examples, he cited Obama’s calls for Israel to return to its 1967 borders as a basis for a Middle East peace agreement, and his decision early in his administration to scrap the Pentagon’s plan to deploy a missile system in Europe, with interceptor and radar sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Rove also noted that Obama’s reference during a ceremony in May to a “Polish death camp” when he meant to say “Nazi death camp” was particularly upsetting to the Polish people.
“They were already with a chip on their shoulder for good reason [over the missile system],” he said. “Now they have a bigger one.”
Concerning Obama’s statements on Israel’s borders, Rove said, the Israelis view that as a “very problematic policy.”
“This is one of many things that has caused a lot of . . . Jewish-Americans and a lot of Israelis to be concerned about how President Obama views this relationship,” he added.
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