Karl Rove 'super PAC' won't favor any 2012 candidate during primaries

American Crossroads, a 'super PAC' created by political mastermind Karl Rove and others, doesn't intend to back any GOP presidential candidate during the primary season, its leaders said Friday.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
American Crossroads Chairman Mike Duncan (r.) and President Steven Law speak at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast in Washington, on Friday, June 24.

Supporters of Mitt Romney, the front-runner in the Republican presidential field, have launched a “super PAC” to raise money to promote his candidacy, even as leaders of American Crossroads, the biggest of the Republican super PACs, promised Friday to remain neutral during the primary season.

That signals that American Crossroads intends to save most of its fire for the general election, when the GOP nominee will be up against a well-funded President Obama, and will not choose a horse in the GOP nominating race.

The wrinkle in that scenario is that the new pro-Romney PAC and American Crossroads share a key executive – an overlap that had reporters closely questioning the Crossroads leaders about the neutrality assertion when they appeared Friday at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast gathering.

Since the 2010 Supreme Court decision that opened the door to campaign spending by a wider array of contributors, so-called super PACs (political action committees) have been springing up. It's now permissible for these super PACs to raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations, and unions, as long as the donors are disclosed and the groups do not coordinate their spending with federal candidates.

According to a Washington Post report, Romney supporters have launched Restore Our Future PAC. It is not known how much Restore Our Future has already raised to support the Romney campaign.

American Crossroads, a group founded by Karl Rove, former President Bush's political adviser, among others, insists it will remain neutral during the 2012 primary season.

“It is important for us to clearly state that Crossroads … will not be involved in the Republican presidential primary. We are just not going to do that,” said the group's chairman, Mike Duncan. Though the group says it will not spend money to advance the cause of any primary candidate, it might spend as the primary season ends if Democrats attack the GOP's presumptive nominee, its executives said.

Reporters asked Mr. Duncan and Steven Law, the group’s president and CEO, pointed questions about American Crossroads' neutrality. The Washington Post story about the pro-Romney super PAC noted that its board of directors includes political operative Carl Forti, who was political director for Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign. Mr. Forti is now political director of American Crossroads.

“Carl is a contract employee with American Crossroads. He has other clients; we knew he had other clients. But clearly none of us are going to be involved personally in presidential campaigns. And he is not either,” Duncan said.

“The only thing I would add to that,” said Mr. Law, “is the work that Carl does for us is work that every contender for the Republican nomination would be supportive of, which is that he is helping find ways to make sure President Obama does not return to office.”

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