The race for the White House is close and the outcome might not be known until the day after the election. That’s the take from Karl Rove, the GOP political strategist whose American Crossroads super PAC and its affiliate, Crossroads GPS, have budgeted more than $300 million on presidential, U.S. Senate and U.S. House races this year.

The Erie Times-News interviewed Rove on Thursday about the election and his upcoming visit to Erie. Rove will speak Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m., as part of the Jefferson Educational Society’s fourth Global Summit. Rove, a former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, predicts that Republican nominee Mitt Romney will win the Nov. 6 election. "I think Romney is going to win this, but it’s going to be a very, very close election,” he said. Rove said in an opinion piece in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal that President Barack Obama’s problem remains the sluggish economy. Rove’s super PAC is doing its part for Romney, spending money on television commercials, mailings and Internet ads in the key swing states of Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. "We’ve had activity in all those states,” he said.


Rove’s groups are also involved in about a dozen U.S. House and another 12 Senate races, he said. It has not spent money on the tightening U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania between incumbent Democrat Bob Casey and Republican nominee Tom Smith. Both Obama and Romney are spending a lot of time in Ohio, and the campaigns and PACs are blitzing the state with commercials. But Rove said Ohio — and its 18 electoral votes — is not the only key to the White House. And he doesn’t agree with the oft-cited argument that a Republican cannot reach 270 electoral votes without Ohio. "It’s always easier to win with Ohio, but there are 11 combinations given the current (electoral) map,” he said. Asked whether he thinks Pennsylvania is out of play for Romney, Rove said he thinks the Republican nominee has a chance. "If you take a look at the public polls, the state has moved in Romney’s direction as the country has,” he said. No money has been spent on the presidential race in Pennsylvania since August, and the state — traditionally one of the battlegrounds — has seen few visits from the candidates. But Rove noted that GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan campaigned near Pittsburgh last Saturday. Rove left open the possibility that his super PAC could spend money in Pennsylvania.


Asked about Colin Powell’s endorsement Thursday of Obama, Rove called that expected since Powell, a moderate Republican, backed the president four years ago.Rove doesn’t think the endorsement from Powell, secretary of state under President George W. Bush, will make much of a difference. "Endorsements are overblown, particularly when they’re expected. It had more impact in 2008,” he said. "It had a man-bites-dog kind of surprise to it.”With less than two weeks until the election, both candidates must work to ”close the sale with the people that are up for grabs,” Rove said.


President Barack Obama made one candid admission in an interview with The Des Moines Register that originally was off-the-record but subsequently released after some pressure by the publication.

Here’s the key quote:

"The second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform. And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee [Mitt Romney] and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community. And this is a relatively new phenomenon. George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America. And so I am fairly confident that they’re going to have a deep interest in getting that done. And I want to get it done because it’s the right thing to do and I’ve cared about this ever since I ran back in 2008."

When he visits Erie, Rove will talk about how the election was won and lost and he will address challenges facing the nation.


JOHN GUERRIERO can be reached at 870-1690 or by e-mail. Follow him on Twitter at Read the Campaign ’12 blog at and post comments.