Hardball with Chris Matthews, 2/7/13, 7:00 PM ET

Tea Party vs. Rove? GOP civil war spills over

FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe and former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown debate the GOP civil war. Are Karl Rove’s glory days over? What’s going on at...

The best bet to beat Hillary? ‘Our guys–not Rove guys,’ says Tea Party

Updated

Is the man once known as “The Architect” now a ruin himself? An article in Wednesday’s Huffington Post declared “Karl Rove is Done.” Rove’s new effort to back “conservative candidates who can win”–as he describes his goal–has incited a civil war among establishment and Tea Party Republicans.

Rove would like to reshape a GOP system that produced weak candidates like Christine O’Donnell, Todd Akin, and Richard Mourdock. Meanwhile, Tea Party types are outraged that Rove, with his own unimpressive won-loss record in 2012, would try to hijack the candidate selection process. Matt Kibbe, president of the Tea Party group FreedomWorks, says Rove’s approach is not the way to rejuvenate the Republican party.

“If you can bind a candidate with a core set of fiscal conservative values that are authentic with the practical skills to communicate and run a statewide campaign, that’s how you repopulate the Republican party,” Kibbe told Hardball guest host Michael Smerconish on Thursday.  “I think Karl Rove is headed in the wrong direction on this.”

Rush Limbaugh also sided with the Tea Party this week, arguing Rove’s plan will bring in “moderate” candidates. “So what the Tea Party people now realize is that they got two political forces gunning for ‘em,” said Limbaugh, “Obama and the Democrats and the Republican establishment.”

On Fox News Channel earlier this week Rove rejected charges that he’s just trying to protect the Republican status quo. “Our job is not to protect incumbents, it is to win races by stopping the practice of giving away some of the seats like we did in Missouri and Indiana this past year,” Rove said. “That may mean telling the incumbent Republican that if he is going be in the race, he shouldn’t expect any funds from Crossroads in the general election.”

But Rove’s threat to pull Crossroads funding from candidates doesn’t carry much weight with groups like FreedomWorks waiting in the wings. As Kibbe points out, it’s their guys who are creating a buzz among the GOP. “If you look at who Republicans get excited about, who is actually putting ideas on the table and who is the most credible challenger to Hillary Clinton in 2016, it’s our guys, it’s not Karl Rove’s guys.”

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The best bet to beat Hillary? 'Our guys--not Rove guys,' says Tea Party

Updated