Karl Rove takes on the tea party. Is a GOP civil war looming?
GOP strategist Karl Rove launches a group to back candidates it sees as most electable, reports say. Tea party groups and others are crying foul.
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Politico quotes a spokesman for the conservative Club for Growth – which has been active in supporting far-right candidates in primaries – as saying: “[Rove and his donors] are welcome to support the likes of Arlen Specter, Charlie Crist, and David Dewhurst. We will continue to proudly support the likes of Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz." Senators Toomey, Rubio, and Cruz are all strong conservatives who either defeated or chased out of the party their more moderate GOP opponents (Messrs. Specter, Crist, and Dewhurst) and have gone on to become leading Republican voices in the US Senate.Skip to next paragraph
Liz Marlantes covers politics for the Monitor and is a regular contributor to the Monitor's political blog, DC Decoder.
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Notably, there is not a whole lot of daylight between, say, Cruz and Akin when it comes to policy. Cruz, of Texas, who was just elected last November, is opposed to abortion in all cases except when the life of the mother is in jeopardy – meaning that, like Akin, he would not allow exceptions in cases of rape and incest.
But in terms of pure political skills, the gulf is glaringly wide. During the 2012 campaign, then-candidate Cruz was asked to comment on Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's controversial assertion that when a pregnancy occurs as a result of rape, it is "something that God intended to happen" and therefore should not be terminated. Cruz simply refused to take the bait, calling it an "unfortunate distraction" and saying he wouldn't engage in hypotheticals. End of story.
The point is, we doubt Rove's group would want to focus on candidates like Cruz – a rising-star Hispanic with degrees from Princeton and Harvard who electrified the base with his speech at the Republican National Convention and has remained in the spotlight ever since. Also, based on what many conservatives are saying, there aren't many in the party who would really be opposed to efforts to block clearly substandard candidates like Akin from getting nominated.
But most candidates aren't obviously in the Akin or Cruz category. And while everyone can agree on losers and winners in hindsight, there often isn't the same kind of consensus during the heat of the campaign. What one side sees as a dangerous tendency toward "stupid" statements, the other may see as a rare and admirable form of "truth telling."
Which means the party may be in for some epic primary battles.
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