Rove calls Cain's gaffes 'really deadly'

Former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove — who earlier in the presidential election cycle sparred with Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) over his comments on Social Security — listed "a number of misstatements" by candidate Herman Cain that he said would likely disqualify him from winning the Republican nomination.

"I think it has created an image of him as not being up to this task," Rove said on Fox News. "That’s really deadly."

Rove used a whiteboard to list a number of Cain's gaffes that could hurt his campaign, including his comments last week on abortion that raised eyebrows among some conservatives, his Afghan and Palestinian foreign policy positions, and statements in an interview that he was unfamiliar with the neoconservative moment. Rove also critiqued Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan.

Rove's comments might represent a turning of the tide by some establishment Republicans against Cain. On Sunday, Fox News political analyst Brit Hume said the candidate "may have peaked."

“I think serious damage has been done,” Hume said. “For all of the disaffection for professional politicians that we see in this cycle and to some extent in the congressional election, in the end, particularly when you are running for president, it is not an advantage to be without long experience. And Herman Cain’s lack of experience is leading to these stumbles and missteps and misstatements.”

While other Republicans maintain that Cain has caught the zeitgeist of Tea Party conservatives, Rove's critique of Perry in September proved seriously bruising to the campaign. After Rove denounced Perry's critique of Social Security as "toxic", the Texas governor was put on the defensive, especially in early-voting states like Florida and Nevada with high senior populations. 

Coupled with poor debate performances, Perry's poll numbers have been halved since entering the race.