Karl Rove has a new super PAC, but he's not going after Democrats.
The New York Times reports The Conservative Victory Project, an offshoot of Rove's American Crossroads, is taking aim at far-right conservatives and the Tea Party. After embarrassing Republican Senate defeats in Missouri and Indiana, Rove's group plans to support the most conservative candidates who can win.
A headline on the conservative website Breitbart.com reads "Rove Declares War On Tea Party." But Republican strategist John Brabender, a former senior strategist to the Santorum presidential campaign, tells Jansing & Co. he doesn't see this as an act of war.
"I think what they're saying is we can no longer just pick a candidate because they're a tea party candidate if they're really not a very good candidate," he said. "Just because they can fill out a survey for the Tea Party effectively doesn't mean they're an effective candidate. What they're saying is as long as there are better candidates who still live up to our Republican ideological beliefs but are going to be stronger in November, that is where we should be investing our time and energy."
Former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., says Republicans need to soften their hard-line stances and follow the lead of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. "I think Sen. Rubio, for example, what he's doing on immigration would be able to make the whole party more attractive and candidates that think that way more attractive."
But Brabender says Rove's approach is not about moderation, it's about winning. "It says first, let's find the candidates who agree with our philosophies and are conservatives in most cases. But let's make sure we have ones that actually have the gravitas, substance and ability to actually win in November if we are going to bring the change in Washington that we have to," said Brabender. "It's a very practical approach. It does not mean we are moving more centric or anything else. It just means we're going to win more elections."
President and CEO of American Crossroads Steven Law described the approach in an interview on Andrea Mitchell Reports Monday:
"Our goal is to basically try to institutionalize the "William F. Buckley Rule," when he said that the goal should be to try to nominate the most conservative candidate who can win, and that's going to be different in each individual state. But what we saw looking back at this last cycle was some significant candidate quality problems. Some of the mainstream candidates were like that. But we had some really significant self-destructive candidates who ended up impacting others on the ballot too, like Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana. And our goal is to see if we can try to find those conservative candidates who are going to be disciplined, who can raise the money, and be competitive in a general election."