Karl Rove defended Republicans' work this election cycle, arguing that President Obama only won by making neither candidate look palatable and that Mitt Romney, not outside groups, should have fought back harder. 

The president's campaign "succeeded by suppressing the vote," Rove told Fox News. "They effectively denigrated Mitt Romney's character, business acumen, experience." 

An estimated 129 million people voted in 2012, down from 131 million in 2008. In the previous three elections, turnout went up.

Rove noted that American Crossroads, one of two big-money groups he advised, aired an ad defending Romney against attacks on Bain Capital. But, he suggested, Romney himself should have done more. 

"We don't do defense all that well," he said. "It's better to have the candidate" do it. He pointed to Obama's direct-to-camera ads as an example. "Sometimes the most effective response in politics is to respond directly to the charge." 

Rove also highlighted the fact that Obama, along with Democratic Senate candidates, outraised their Republican rivals. But he left out the spending by groups like Crossroads. Together, his two groups spent about $170 million this cycle; only six percent of that money went to winning candidates.