Rove: Iowa Will 'Winnow' the GOP Field

Tuesday, 03 Jan 2012 08:21 PM

By Amy Woods

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The so-called Santorum surge in the final two days leading to tonight’s Iowa caucuses defies the laws of probability and more than likely will prove untrue, Republican strategist Karl Rove said on Sean Hannity’s radio show this afternoon.

“I’m always dubious of those kind of numbers,” Rove said. “The polling does show movement for [Republican presidential candidate Rick] Santorum, but let’s be a little bit careful. Things don’t change that dramatically. You don’t double your support like that.”

The Iowa caucuses will not serve as a precursor of who will win the nomination — or the presidency. Rather, the event “winnows the field,” Rove said.

“It gives a chance for somebody who’s not thought of as one of the frontrunners to jump up and play on the stage,” he said.

He said Newt Gingrich’s comments this morning to Norah O’Donnell on CBS’ “The Early Show” were “over the line.”

“So much for a positive campaign,” Rove said. “I don’t think people look at Mitt Romney and see him as a liar, just as they don’t look at Newt, who’s had a change in opinions, as a liar. I think in the last couple of days, the speaker has made a tactical mistake in going to this kind of language.”

Any of the candidates in the GOP field, especially Gingrich, are capable of going “toe to toe” with President Barack Obama in a debate, Rove said. The question is who will set the appropriate campaign tone to win back the White House.

“Do we think we can win better with a campaign that says, ‘I’m not going to say anything negative about my opponent,’ or somebody who goes in there and, with a sense of fairness and fair play, uses the president’s words to indict him and is tough,” he asked. “We will not be able to get through this by simply saying if Obama comes at us … well he’s being mean and he’s running a negative campaign.”

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