In Republican politics, Karl Rove tends to be one of the party’s most respected and influential voices, whether he’s earned that stature or not, but that doesn’t mean the former Bush/Cheney “architect” is above the occasional intra-party feud.
In recent weeks, for example, Rove has been at odds with presidential hopeful Donald Trump, whom Rove recently referred to, according to various reports, as “a complete idiot.” For his part, Trump has called Rove “a total loser.”
Far more quietly, Rove also seems to be at odds with another Republican White House hopeful: Jeb Bush.
But arguably of greater interest still is Rove’s new dispute with an entirely different GOP presidential candidate: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Oliver Willis explained yesterday that their feud has led to a fascinating series of exchanges.
In his new book A Time For Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America, Cruz wrote that Rove tried to bury a donation President George H.W. Bush made to Cruz for his 2009 Texas attorney general campaign.Cruz explained that Rove was “in the process of helping raise money for the George W. Bush presidential library in Dallas” while “Texas donors were giving the Bushes tens of millions, including major donors who were supporting the Dallas state rep who wanted to run for attorney general.” According to Cruz, those donors started “berating” Rove.Rove denied the allegation, writing, “When Mr. Cruz and I talked in 2009, I was not raising money for the Bush Library,” adding, “nor were any library donors ‘berating’ me.”
Now, I can appreciate why much of this sounds like inside baseball, but there’s a broader point to the dispute that makes it more significant than it may appear at first blush.
Rove, for example, is still trying to hold onto his place as a major GOP player, despite his tarnished reputation after his embarrassing 2012 failures, which did lasting damage to his credibility. He still intends to raise considerable amounts of money for the 2016 cycle, and play a key role – from his media perch and his leadership of the Crossroads operation – for his party, up and down the ballot.
In a nutshell, Rove still effectively helps lead his party’s establishment, which he wants to see dictate the outcome of bitter primary disputes.
Cruz, meanwhile, is eager to present himself to conservative activists as the anti-insider. The Texas Republican may be a U.S. senator in Washington, but he’s also the one constantly butting heads with GOP leaders and establishment types.
Thus, the feud.
In this case, however, it appears Cruz has the upper hand. Vox’s Andrew Prokop added yesterday:
…Rove’s defense seems to have been foiled by an email trail. Cruz fired back with a statement on Sunday, saying that Rove’s rebuttal was “a straight-out falsehood” – and released the following email backing up his claim:ROVE EMAIL TO CRUZ, JULY 1, 2009: “thanks – I appreciate your doing what you can to keep this down – the distress you mention is not mine or 43 –it is the people raising money for the library who are also Branch fans and will not understand why one part of the Bush family is for not-the-guy while they are raising money big bucks for library. Thanks too for clarifying that you asked to visit with 41; be as nonchulant as possible about the gift and we’ll muddle through”The email appears to conclusively disprove some of Rove’s recent claims, and back up Cruz’s.
Over to you, Karl.