Karl Rove seems concerned about his party’s presidential field, telling Fox News this morning:

“You don’t want these candidates moving so right in the Republican primary that it becomes impossible for them to win the general election, because it will become a self-defeating message in the primary.

“People want to win. They don’t want somebody who goes so far to the extremes of either party that they lack a chance to carry a victory off in November.”

I didn’t see the whole appearance, but as best as I can tell, Rove didn’t specifically name the candidate (or candidates) who he feels would make it “impossible” for Republicans to win next year.

But Rove’s comments come the same morning as a Wall Street Journal editorial that raised similar concerns about the electability of some of the leading Republican candidates, and unlike Rove, the Journal specifically calls out Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry as being potentially problematic.

The emergence of Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann is nonetheless more evidence that GOP voters continue to have doubts about their candidates. Mitt Romney is a weak front-runner who has money and campaign experience and looks Presidential. But he gives little evidence that he has convictions beyond faith in his own technocratic expertise. […]

Republicans and independents are desperate to find a candidate who can appeal across the party’s disparate factions and offer a vision of how to constrain a runaway government and revive America’s once-great private economy. If the current field isn’t up to that, perhaps someone still off the field will step in and run. Now would be the time.

Between Rove and the WSJ, I almost get the sense the Republican establishment still hopes to tell the Republican base, “Well, sure, being right-wing is fun, but you folks aren’t actually going to nominate an extremist for president are you? Are you?

The notion that the party establishment may not have the influence it wants over this process has to be pretty scary for Rove & Co.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.