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Rightwingers to Karl Rove: Can you hear us now?

“Everything in moderation,” is a useful approach if you want to trim the fat from your frame.

“Everything in moderation,” is a useful approach if you want to trim the fat from your frame. The same applies if you want to trim the fringe off your political party, as Karl Rove is trying to do.

Rove’s plan to push out extremist, Tea Party-backed candidates in favor of more moderate Republicans is causing a backlash from the right, as conservatives ranging from FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe to billionaire business mogul Donald Trump attack the former Bush adviser for abandoning his principles.

“Karl Rove doesn’t care what the ideology is; he’s just selling a product,” said the Grio’s Joy Reid on Hardball Friday. “This guy has no principles.” Reid went on to accuse Rove of “tricking people” in order to accumulate power, while Hardball host Chris Matthews likened Rove to “a certain kind of bug” that could survive a nuclear war. But that’s nothing compared to what the Republican strategist is getting from his own side.

“[Rove] was the guy that tried to convince all of us that Mitt Romney was the most electable. How did that turn out?” said an indignant Matt Kibbe on Hardball Thursday. And on Monday, talk show host Mark Levin called Rove a “hanger-on” and told him to “get the hell off the stage.”

Rove went on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor Thursday to defend himself and his conservatism, saying that his super PAC, American Crossroads, spent millions on Tea Party candidates. “There’s no one that’s come close to what Crossroads has done in terms of financial support for Tea Party candidates,” said Rove. “It’s not the question of Tea Party or not; it’s whether they’re a bad candidate or not.”

What counts as a “bad candidate”? Probably someone who uses words like “legitimate” and “God’s will” when talking about rape. When Rove launched his new super PAC, the Conservative Victory Fund, his strategy was to resurrect the GOP by moving away from the Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks of the world, and instead back the candidates who actually stood a chance of winning. But so far, all Rove has managed to do is escalate a civil war between far-right Republicans and the more moderate GOP establishment.

Texas Governor Rick Perry cautioned against opting for moderation in pursuit of an electoral victory, calling such a compromise “a failure” on the Laura Ingraham Show Friday. He said, “People who try to moderate their views to win a particular vote are going to be weaker and weaker as time goes by.”