Crossroads invites rivals, starts to backpedal

Updated
 

We learned over the weekend the Karl Rove’s attack operation, American Crossroads, is launching a project called the Conservative Victory Project, intended to help discourage the Republican Party’s right-wing from nominating unelectable loons who lose general-election races.

In particular, Crossroads president Steven Law noted his concerns about Iowa’s 2014 Senate race. “We’re concerned about Steve King’s Todd Akin problem,” Law said. “This is an example of candidate discipline and how it would play in a general election. All of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.”

Compare that to what Law told msnbc’s Chuck Todd yesterday.

For those who can’t watch clips online, Todd noted that Steve King managed to win re-election against a credible Democrat in 2012. “Sure,” Law said, after noting the money Crossroads has already invested in Tea Party candidates. “And we put $400,000 into that race, actually, in support of him this last go around.”

Jed Lewison picked up on the shift: “A few days ago, Law was basically calling Steve King an unelectable nut job, saying that he was “concerned” about King because of ‘King’s Todd Akin problem’ and the fact that ‘all of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.’ And now Law defends himself to conservatives by saying that his group actually spent $400,000 to try to elect King and refuses to repeat any of his pointed criticisms of King, instead saying he was trying to make a generic argument about how things a candidate has said or might say ought to be a factor in deciding who to support.”

Quite right. Over the course of a few days, American Crossroads has gone from arguing that King is exactly the kind of candidate they’re worried about to effectively saying, “Who us? We love Steve King! We gave him $400,000!”

The structural integrity of the Conservative Victory Project appears to be crumbling after less than a week.

Complicating matters, Jillian Rayfield reports that Conservative Victory Project is inspiring copy-cat organizations that will push in the opposite direction.

Former Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., announced Tuesday that he is forming a super PAC “to support freedom-loving conservative alternatives” and to fight back against a Karl Rove initiative to keep unelectable Tea Partyers from winning primaries. […]

He wrote on his Facebook page that “if we had listened to Karl Rove in 2010, there would be no [Florida] Sen. Marco Rubio. Rove backed Charlie Crist, who was last seen raving about President Obama at the Democrat National Convention last year.” Walsh also referenced Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, whose opponents were also backed by Rove.

“In fact, if we had listened to Karl Rove in 2010, there never would have been a congressman Joe Walsh. Rove thought openly Tea Party candidates like Walsh couldn’t win,” wrote Walsh, who lost his seat in 2012 to Democrat Tammy Duckworth.

To be sure, it’s unlikely Walsh’s super PAC will become a powerhouse to rival Rove’s operation. The former one-term congressman is generally seen as an over-caffeinated nut, and he will probably struggle to raise considerable amounts of money for a national operation.

But Walsh’s ire for Rove and the Conservative Victory Project is the tip of a right-wing iceberg – the apoplexy among conservative activists and organizations has been fierce – and helps explain why Steven Law was far more circumspect yesterday than he was over the weekend.

This probably wasn’t the start the Conservative Victory Project was hoping for.

Steve King and Karl Rove

Crossroads invites rivals, starts to backpedal

Updated