Rove: Sanders was a ‘cranky hobbit’ in Dem debate
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GOP strategist Karl RoveKarl Christian RoveKarl Rove argues Clinton's impeachment was 'dignified' Washington Post fact-checker gives Plame three Pinocchios for Libby claim Karl Rove: Both parties are 'broken' MORE says the first Democratic debate shows Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' MORE (I-Vt.) can't defeat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders MORE, claiming the underdog presidential contender came off like a "cranky hobbit."

“The Democratic debate Tuesday revealed the best thing that Hillary Clinton has going for her: the weakness of her challengers,” he wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.

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“Vermont Senator Bernier Sanders came across as an elderly, dyspeptic Bilbo Baggins attending a British Labour Party meeting,” Rove said. “Mrs. Clinton might have looked good Tuesday standing on a platform with three intellectual dwarves and a cranky hobbit.

"There is little doubt now that Mrs. Clinton will be her party’s nominee, barring an indictment or similar dramatic event,” he continued. “Still, Mrs. Clinton’s managers shouldn’t kid themselves: Her intraparty competition is pitiful, and her challenges in the general election remain enormous.”

Clinton clashed with Sanders, former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and former Govs. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) and Lincoln Chafee (D-R.I.) during Tuesday’s contest in Las Vegas.

Rove mocked Sanders for declaring climate change the gravest danger facing America in the future.

“When asked to state America’s greatest national security threat, Mr. Sanders did not say [the] Islamic State, which controls much of Syria, Iraq and Iran,” he said. “He did not say Russia, entrenched in Ukraine and emerging as a dominant power in the Middle East, or even China, threatening its neighbors in the west Pacific.

“He named climate change,” Rove added. "One can imagine President Sanders ordering special forces to the headquarters of Exxon, Shell and Chevron to haul off oil-men to reeducation camps cooled and heated by renewable energy.”

Rove said the other Democratic White House hopefuls were equally disappointing during their first debate with Clinton.

“Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley sounded like an overly earnest, slightly too intense 1950s ad man making a bad pitch,” he wrote.

“Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee was as hapless as a puppy stranded in a hurricane,” Rove said.

“And former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, probably sensing how inconsequential he is, was angry all night,” he added. "It’s hard to believe this crew will draw many viewers for future debates.”

Tuesday’s event was the first of six debates the Democratic National Committee is conducting in the 2016 cycle. The next debate is scheduled for Nov. 14 in Des Moines.

Sanders is Clinton’s nearest competitor in the race for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

Clinton currently boasts 43.3 percent voter support to his 25.1 percent, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls.