Quotes of the day

“This is a bad idea whose time has come,” former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a powerhouse fundraiser for Crossroads, said of the new organization, according to an email Monday to donors from Steven Law, head of the Crossroads groups and Conservative Victory Project.

Law outlined plans to essentially perform oppo research [on conservatives] and grade potential candidates on a variety of factors that might affect their ability to win a general election contest, including using fundraising reports “like earnings calls” to evaluate “the competitiveness of candidates.” And he signaled that Crossroads would mobilize other big-money groups in its network to help avert damaging primaries…

But Rove’s involvement in primaries could inflame opponents, predicted Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund PAC. “Their activities are going to actually have the opposite effect of what they’re trying to do,” he said. “It could actually make it easier for conservative candidates to win primaries.”…

“We discourage our people from supporting third-party candidates by saying ‘that’s a big mistake. We shouldn’t do that’,” [Tea Party Express founder Sal Russo] said. “But if the position [Rove’s allies] take is rule or ruin — well, two can play that game. And if we get pushed, we’re not going to be able to keep the lid on that.”


One high-profile Republican strategist, who refused to be named in order to avoid inflaming the very segments of the party he wants to silence, said there is a deliberate effort by party leaders to “marginalize the cranks, haters and bigots — there’s a lot of underbrush that has to be cleaned out.”…

So a political colonoscopy is going on before our eyes. Republican after Republican told us the party dodged a bullet with Mitt Romney’s loss: If he had squeaked in, this vital reboot would have been delayed four or eight years…

But a senior Republican operative said the party has two huge, unresolved impediments to the top leaders’ grand plans: “suicide conservatives, who would rather lose elections than win seats with moderates,” and the “many groups on the hard right that depend on direct mail fundraising that requires a high degree of audacity, and borderline shrillness.”


Stone said it’s wrong to alienate the conservative base. “These are the storm troops of the Republican Party,” he said, adding that tea party folks ring doorbells and hang signs for candidates. “Don’t offend them”

Stone said Republicans can find electable candidates who also appeal to tea party principles. But a group that divides a minority party, he added, “that’s like pre-meditated suicide. I’m not for a suicide PAC.”


Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks openly scoffed at the notion that Rove’s network would be able to pick winners and losers. “The guys who fund groups like Rove’s want to re-establish that they’re in charge, but they just don’t understand the inevitable decentralization and democratization of politics,” said Kibbe. Club for Growth president Chris Chocola seconded that motion: “When you think about a Republican primary, and you think about a principled conservative versus a moderate Republican – well, our model wins more often.”

Rove’s apparent apathy toward the Tea Party has obviously generated antipathy for his views. As Mark Levin has pointed out, Rove recently bragged about spending some $30 million on Senate Tea Party candidates and $25 million on Tea Party House candidates — but American Crossroads reportedly spent some $400 million in the 2012 election cycle, meaning that only about $1 out of every $8 was spent on Tea Party candidates.

Rove will undoubtedly continue to wield influence. But whether that influence triggers a Republican civil war or not is entirely up to Rove, and depends largely on his willingness to work with Tea Party groups rather than in opposition to them.


Paul pushed back Sunday on the notion that Rubio, or any other Republican, has been anointed as the “face” of the Republican Party, making the case that Republican lawmakers sometimes have different priorities.

“I don’t think anybody gets to choose who the face is, or say you or someone else is the face. I think we do the best to promote what we believe in,” Paul said, pointing to his own vocal opposition to sending U.S. foreign aid money to certain countries like Egypt and Pakistan.

“There are things that distinguish a lot of different Republicans. It doesn’t make them bad or me right or them wrong. What it means there is a tea party wing that’s interested in not sending money to people who are not acting like our allies,” Paul said.


Rove believes that candidates like O’Donnell gave away likely seats in Nevada, Colorado, Indiana, and Missouri during the last two election cycles. The GOP might control the Senate today if sharper candidates had prevailed.

This line of thinking outrages movement conservatives and Tea Party activists. They chalk up the defeats to the liberal media, which lampooned true conservatives by fixating on their minor missteps. By pledging to support more electable candidates, Rove is buying in to the frame that the media puts around true conservatives.

This theory may be reasonable or it may be poppycock. Either way, Rove’s detractors should thank him for bringing the debate into the open. Rove’s new effort is good for the Tea Party in the way that doubters are good for religions. No faith worthy of its Sunday parishioners crumbles under a challenge. Leaving aside whether Rove is really challenging the core of Tea Party beliefs, his efforts force those who hold a different view into being clearer about what they believe. Only if they go through that process can they make their case to Republicans who aren’t already true believers. Plus, if they can’t beat Karl Rove at the internal game, they’re not going to be able to beat the Democrats.


Back then, and even now, 41 years later, Rove was not a radical or what they called a “movement” conservative. He was a geeky outsider who longed for the power and money and connections that he thought would be available to him in politics in general and as a Nixon acolyte in particular. Nixon hated the country clubbers, but for social not philosophical reasons, and he drew to his side outsider operatives such as Rove with a lust for power…

Tea Partiers rightly ask what Rove and his rich-as-Croesus American Crossroads super PAC have gotten for conservatives or even the GOP. Rove is a master tactician, but not necessarily a great judge of political horseflesh. His taste tends to run to rich guys who can pay him a lot — which worked out well only in the case of W., and then only by skin of Justice Antonin Scalia’s (“get over it”) teeth…

Deep-dyed conservatives have a right to ask the Roves of the world what the establishment GOPers have done to erase the debt, limit the reach of the federal government or enhance a libertarian view of the world. The answer, to the Rand Pauls of the world, is simple: nothing

He’s done.


Hear this: extremist ideology is one crucial element of being a bad candidate. There is no good way to phrase the idea that rape victims should be compelled to bear their rapist’s child. Ditto for the idea that those people who can’t find work in the throes of the worst jobs crisis since the 1930s are moochers and takers.

But there is an idea that can be phrased, and it is this:

It’s long past time to create within the Republican party an organized force to fund and support moderate-minded candidates. The Tea Party types do not hesitate to champion their views. Why would it be wrong for moderate Republicans to do likewise? Karl Rove won’t lead that effort. Somebody should. Who?




DAVID BROOKS: I think it’s the beginning of a longer-lasting thing.

There’s been a lot of calls for Republicans to change. And we have seen that from everybody to Paul Ryan to Marco Rubio. Now we’re beginning to see the donor class really begin to change. There is some question, are they trying to change just the candidates, so they don’t get Todd Akin, or they trying to actually change some of the substance?

And, so far , it seems to be just the candidates. One of the interesting things — and I can’t say I know the answer to this — is, how much will the Tea Party fight back? There has been some effort that they are saying, oh, the establishment is taking over.

But my own sense of things so far is that there is not the will to fight among the Tea Party and that a lot of people in the Tea Party are, frankly — they’re not — they are also Republicans. And a lot of — say, Rush Limbaugh, for example, who is not Tea Party, he’s more an establishment Republican who wants the Republican Party to win.

So I have a feeling that the establishment is going to have maybe an easier time of it than some might think.


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