Karl Rove appeared on Sean Hannity’s show Tuesday night to defend himself against conservative accusations that his new PAC is intended to help moderate Republicans against tea party challengers in primary races.
Radio host Mark Levin went so far as to accuse Rove of stabbing conservatives in the back. Rove made it clear he still wants conservative candidates to back, he just wants ones who can actually win races.
Hannity first explained the main goal of Conservative Victory Project: keeping more Todd Akins from becoming nominees for safe seats and ultimately losing general elections. Rove quickly clarified that he is not going to be in the business of defending incumbents, but merely making sure the Republican party nominates candidates who can actually win races. He also defended his previous support of Tea Party candidates in 2010 and 2012.
Hannity brought up the criticism that sometimes the Republican party ends up with establishment Republicans who no one is happy with. Rove insisted he just wants “the most conservative candidate who can win,” not just the incumbent candidate. He insisted that his group would have, for example, backed Marco Rubio in 2010. Hannity explained his main concern is that he doesn’t want anyone within the Republican party doing anything to divide it.
Rove stuck by his message, saying that the Republican party needs to do better than Todd Akin if it wants to retake the Senate.
Rove mentioned the Buckley rule, also cited by Charles Krauthammer earlier Tuesday night on Special report as he reminded the panel of the most prime example he could think of where it should have been applied, the ill-fated Delaware Senate race of 2010:
Tuesday in Delaware was a bad day not only for Republicans but also for conservatives. Tea Partyer Christine O’Donnell scored a stunning victory over establishment Republican Mike Castle. Stunning but pyrrhic. The very people who have most alerted the country to the perils of President Obama’s social democratic agenda may have just made it impossible for Republicans to retake the Senate and definitively stop that agenda.
A timeless rule of sober politics, and particularly timely now. This is no ordinary time. And this is no ordinary Democratic administration. It is highly ideological and ambitious. It is determined to use whatever historical window it is granted to change the country structurally, irreversibly. It has already done so with Obamacare and has equally lofty ambitions for energy, education, immigration, taxation, industrial policy and the composition of the Supreme Court.
Ugh, that was in 2010 when there was still hope that we could retake the White House, and turn back the red tide. One Akin and one Mourdock later, it’s hard not to see the wisdom in employing the Buckley Rule.
If Rove is to be believed, and his PAC really is designed to weed out the not ready for prime time candidates – like Akin – then more power to him. We don’t need any more debacles like that Missouri Senate race – which we should have won easily.
Ben Howe, Red State: It’s the Messaging, Stupid. It’s the Stupid Messaging
For Rove’s part, there are a lot of people telling me to give him and his partners the benefit of the doubt. That this isn’t them declaring war on the grassroots but is simply a group of conservatives trying to figure out the best way to effect change.
If that’s true, then my advice is only compounded. Is their group so horrible at messaging that they couldn’t even roll out this announcement without enraging their base?
The truth is, I’d rather not spend the next 2 years fighting people that are supposed to be on our side. I’d rather spend that time crafting messages that espouse our believes in a way that doesn’t make people grab buckets of tar and bags of feathers.
We should be seeking candidates together, not tearing each other apart. With a skeptical eye, I look forward to seeing how Rove’s group intends on working with the rest of us to win for conservatism. I wish I were more optimistic.