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Rollins: Palin to be most popular Republican

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  • GOP strategist says John McCain faces uphill struggle to win on November 4
  • Money giving big advantage to Barack Obama, strategist Ed Rollins says
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(CNN) -- Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins spoke with "American Morning" anchor John Roberts on Monday on the status of the presidential campaigns and the weekend's events leading up to the November 4 vote.

GOP strategist Ed Rollins says Gov. Sarah Palin needs to "gain substance" before she could be elected president.

John Roberts: It's eight days here, a final stretch. Where does [Sen. John McCain] find himself?

Ed Rollins: It's a very steep hill. If he had the money that [Sen. Barack] Obama has and the resources, maybe he could close it. The problem is, he's being outspent 5, 6 to 1.

[Democrats have] a better get-out-the-vote effort. A lot of their voters have already voted. And when you put 100,000 people in a place like they did yesterday in Denver, you know there's an enthusiasm for that campaign.

Roberts: You know, David Frum, former speechwriter for President Bush, ... wrote in the The Washington Post yesterday that McCain/Palin has alienated the middle of the country. ... Frum says that they should adopt a different strategy here on the Republican side of things -- to publicly say, listen, we've lost the White House -- even if they don't believe it. Take all the money available, put it into the Senate races and try to prevent the Democrats from getting filibuster-proof majority of the Senate. Good idea? Bad idea? Video Watch what strategy Obama plans »

Rollins: It's a good idea if you don't change your message. Your message has to be consistent. And that is basically that Barack and the Democrats are going to raise your taxes, have big spending programs again. Cut defense by 25 percent, as [Rep.] Barney Frank warned. ... That's got to be the message.

The critical thing about the McCain team is how do you want to end up your campaign? How do you want to end up your public career? Do you want to go out on a happy note? Do you want to go out basically saying what you really believe? And that's what I would argue that they should do.

Roberts: This idea [that Democrats] control both houses of Congress and the White House from one party would be a bad thing -- is that an argument that can gain traction in this country? Can you, with eight days left, instill the idea in people's minds it is not a good thing?

Rollins: It's awful hard at this point in time. I think to a certain extent, people are willing to take a change. And if the change is moving in one direction, they're not so convinced that Barack and his team can't do a better job than the Republicans have done over the last eight years. Video Watch how McCain makes a final push for the presidency »

Roberts: Of course, the other big story over the weekend was apparently a split between the McCain camp and the [Sarah] Palin camp. Some grumblings from inside she's not listening to them. One aide told CNN, quote, "She's a diva. She takes no advice from anyone. She's playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party." What do you hear?

Rollins: Well, I hear the same things. The key thing is, you've got to stop that. You've got to basically say, "All right governor, how do you want to end your last week here? We want you on our team. Here's what Sen. McCain's going to say. Here's what we would like you to say and where you'd like to go. Let's cut out all the bickering."

Roberts: Is she is wrong for doing that? Was she mishandled?

Rollins: Sure, she was mishandled. There's no question she was mishandled the first few weeks of this campaign, and I think to a certain extent she's become a target of a lot of ridicule. This is a very popular, very effective person. So --

Roberts: What's your sense? Could she be the future of this party?

Rollins: She definitely is going to be the most popular Republican in this country when this thing is over. She'll basically spend the next three of four years, running around doing Lincoln Day dinners and raising money for people. She's got to gain a lot of substance before she's a viable candidate for president.

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Roberts: So, you're thinking a shot at 2012?

Rollins: I don't doubt that she has that ability.

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