(CNN) — Karl Rove launched a wide-ranging attack on Barack Obama during a speech at the National Rifle Association Convention Friday, blasting him for his recent comments calling some small town American’s “bitter,” and suggesting the Illinois senator is an effete politician unable to connect with a broad swath of Americans.
The comments, received enthusiastically by the large crowd in Louisville, Kentucky, are a likely sign Obama’s words at a San Francisco fundraiser last month may be a major Republican talking-point should he capture the Democratic Party’s nomination.
“You know in the age of Barack Obama I don’t know exactly what to call you, because after all, as he said, because we’re bitter and economically anxious, we ‘cling to our guns and we cling to our faith,” Rove told the crowd to laughter and cheers.
“You probably didn’t know you hunted out of economic anxiety, and if gas was a $1.50 a gallon, you probably wouldn’t be hunting,” he continued. “You probably thought you hunted because you enjoyed the outdoors and companionship with family and friends.”
Rove, largely credited with orchestrating campaign strategies that painted former Democratic nominees Al Gore and John Kerry as out of touch with small town Americans, also cited Obama’s recent primary losses in Pennsylvania and West Virginia as evidence a large demographic is unwilling to vote for the presumptive Democratic nominee.
“We here have news for Barack Obama,” Rove said. “The values of those people you diminished are the values of America. And those people don’t like getting patronized, or viewed as an alien species, by a fellow who pretends to embody a new kind of politics, and especially by someone who wants to be president not of red states or blue states, but the United States.”
Rove, who does not have an official role within John McCain’s presidential campaign or at the Republican National Committee, also took Obama to task for recently wearing a flag pin.
“It is distracting to say in a Democratic primary when you are trying to cozy up to Moveon.org that an American flag on your lapel is a quote ‘substitute’ for true patriotism,” Rove said. “Belittling all those who care to wear our country’s flag, calling them false patriots, and then when you focus on the general election, like this week, start to showing up with an American flag on your lapel again. That’s distracting.”
Obama was asked last October why he normally does not wear a flag pin on his lapel, as many politicians do. The Illinois senator said then he wore one shortly after 9/11, but later decided to show his patriotism in other ways.
“After a while, you start noticing people wearing the lapel pin but not acting very patriotic,” he said then. “My attitude is that I’m less concerned with what you’re wearing on your lapel than what’s in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those ones who serve.”