President Obama's former top adviser said it was a "mistake" for the president to say "every one" of his policies was "on the ballot" this election, admitting the line hurt Democrats' chances at holding the Senate.

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"I would not have put that line in there," former Obama adviser David Axelrod said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday morning. "It was a mistake."

Red-state Democrats winced last Thursday when Obama gave the GOP fodder to tie them together.

"I am not on the ballot this fall…. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot," Obama said in a Chicago speech. "Every single one of them."

Republicans rushed to get Obama's comments into ads blasting red-state Senate Democrats whose fates will likely determine control of the upper chamber. Those ads are already airing in three states — Kansas, Kentucky and New Hampshire — and similar ads are likely coming in other races.

Axelrod said the comments came in a larger context of pushing "forward-looking" economic fairness, which is important for Democrats.