Karl Rove backs the super PAC American Crossroads. (Steve Helber/AP)

“Wouldn’t you like to be in the White House tonight? She’s saying, ‘Barack, what the hell happened to you?’ ” Rove said.

“Think about this Friday: ‘The private sector is doing fine.’ It’s the state and local government employees we ought to be worried about. I think he’s got it assward backwards. Or some would say bass ackwards,” keying off Obama’s off-the-cuff remark Friday in defense of a proposal to spur public-sector job growth.

“We ought to be worried about the working men and the working women of America who have to ultimately pay the bill, and their kids,” Rove continued. “We shouldn’t be worried first and foremost about what are we going to do to help state and local government employees, many of whom have better deals than their neighbors — better retirement, better benefits, certainly better tenure in their jobs,”

The former senior adviser to President George W. Bush and now architect of Republican SuperPAC spending was just getting warmed up. On his way to a larger message to Maryland Republicans, he also drew applause at the expense of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

“I love the fact that the man is talking about running for president,” Rove said, focusing on O’Malley’s record of tax increases. “Let me just tell you, we would be blessed as a party and as a nation if he did. He could be like the Howard Dean of 2016. He could leave the safe environs of Baltimore City and Annapolis, and go out there and see what the real America is like.

“Let him go out there and say let’s tax everybody more; let’s spend everything we got; we are really concerned about the state and local government employees. ... I want to see how far that goes. Even in the Democratic primary, they aren’t that dumb.”

Rove said he was invited to the Maryland Republican Party annual dinner to deliver a pep talk

“They asked, would you come up and talk to Maryland Republicans … we’re down a little bit. We lost our [2010] governor’s race, and we’re really struggling …

“My first piece of advice is this: Stop whining,” Rove said, admonishing the crowd of more than 400 to get busy winning in November.

Rove sought to draw an analogy with Texas, saying Maryland Republicans are already ahead of where the party was in Texas when he began organizing there.

Rove argued that Maryland Republicans could become more competitive in Baltimore, Prince George’s County and other heavily minority areas of the state by becoming more inclusive.

“We ought to keep expanding our numbers. We’re not going to win unless we grow. Political parties do not succeed if they become smaller and more select. They become successful if they become broader and bigger. And that means tolerating some people who don’t necessarily agree with us on each and every opinion,” Rove said.

Rove said Republicans in Maryland must give residents a reason to vote for them.

“It’s not just enough to criticize the kookiness that goes on in Annapolis. It’s not enough to point out the weirdness of Gov. O’Malley’s position on many of the issues. …

“We have to be bold and clear and concrete about what it is that we are going to do,” Rove said. “We’ve got to come up with optimistic and positive and constructive answers to the problems of our communities. We have to be talking about things that will improve people’s lives … and a better future for every single person in your state.”

Rove said the American Crossroads SuperPAC that he founded would continue to be a major spender on advertising in the presidential race, but he said grass-roots organizing would be among the most effective at getting Republican voters to the polls. He did not say if the SuperPAC would fund such organizational activities or just ads.

“It’s going to be tough — he’s the president, he’s going to have a lot of money,” Rove said. “The unions are going to be desperate, and there are going to be a lot of people who say this is our last chance to keep America going in the direction we want it to go — to look more like northern Europe than look like the United States of America, like some little social democracy between Denmark and Finland.”