Karl Rove says not too much should be read into recent presidential polls, which show businessman Herman Cain surging after his win in the Florida Straw Poll and Texas Gov. Rick Perry faltering because of less than stellar debate performances.
The former adviser to President George W. Bush also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday that Mitt Romney soon will have to directly confront comparisons between the Massachusetts healthcare plan instituted when he was governor and Obamacare.
“We should be very careful about reading too much into these polls,” Rove said “There’s two stories in the Fox poll: One is Herman Cain has moved up, the other story is Rick Perry has moved down — and we shouldn’t be reading too much into either one of them.
“This race is going to go back and forth and up and down until people get ready to vote — people are looking at this contest in a different way,” he said.“They’re judging it almost like they would, you know, an Olympic diving contest, rather than the normal presidential contest, where they pick somebody, stay with them — and if they make a mistake, they give them an excuse.”
Van Susteren noted Perry’s numbers might have slipped because in recent debates Texas controversies have come to the forefront, including the law granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants and his comment — which he later apologized for in an exclusive Newsmax interview — that those who opposed the law were “heartless”.
Rove said the former Texas governor’s problems were more fundamental, as it was expected his performances in debates would improve — and they haven’t .
“The first debate was OK; second debate, the expectations were that he should improve, and he didn’t; the expectations on the third debate was that he needed to improve, and he got much worse — he had two or three very dreadful answers,” Rove said. “So rather than even a specific comment — and I do think the immigration comment hurt him — I think it was actually the sort of the tone and how well he handled questions; and again, that’s the bad news.
“There’s also some good news in this: Again, I go back to the analogy of, this is like an Olympic diving trial, and we all are watching these things in a different way than we normally watch them,” he said. “And we flip up the scorecards at the end of each debate and rate each one on one. And it is possible that — entirely possible for governor Perry to come back.”
As to Cain — though the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza won the Florida Straw Poll, and is showing considerable grass-root support — Rove said his status will be judged by how he performs moving forward.
“I would make the point that until we start seeing him moving in these early states — like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina — and we see some durability for this,” Rove said. “Remember: We went — we’ve been through this exercise a couple of times already this season . . . . Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll and jumped in the polls, and now has dwindled away. We had Governor Perry come in and jump to a commanding lead, and now in the Fox poll, he’s fallen back into second place.
“I suspect we’re likely to see the same thing for Herman Cain because he had a really good debate performance, won the Florida Straw Poll, and then it’ll be three weeks until the next — between the Florida Straw Poll and the next debate,” he said. “And during that time, we'll turn our attention to two different things: One is what everybody reports in terms of money — that’s going to be a measure of how well they’re doing — and second of all, whether or not anybody gives a substantive policy speech between now and the next debate that draws attention.”
Van Susteren then asked about Romney and at what point he would have to confront comparisons between Obamacare and Romneycare.
“Look, Governor Romney has a choice: He gets to either have a debate with President Obama about how his plan is different than President Obama’s, or he gets to have a debate with fellow Republicans over the issue — if I were him, I’d be having the debate with President Obama,” Rove said. “Now, he started to say — to have that debate — earlier this month when he was on with South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint. And he said a little bit, I think, in the third debate, where he started to describe some of the differences between Massachusetts and Washington.
“But it’s a debate that is better for him to have sooner, rather than later,” he said. “And it’s better for him to have the debate with President Obama than it is to have a debate with eight Republicans on a stage in some debate somewhere.”
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