Coming under fire for his new PAC — the Conservative Victory Project — Karl Rove, a former White House advisor under George W. Bush and founder of American Crossroads, said this weekend during a visit on Fox News Sunday that the Republican Party needs “fewer Christine O’Donnells and more Rand Pauls.”
Here’s the segment, in case you missed it:
That’s interesting. While you’re not going to get an argument from me that O’Donnell was a terrible candidate, Rove wasn’t exactly fond of Rand Paul during his bid for the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky back in 2009. On December 10, 2009, Rove penned an editorial on the GOP’s chances of taking back the Senate. Complimenting candidate recruitment for that cycle in Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio, Rove wrote, “Only Kentucky’s open seat vacated by Jim Bunning causes the GOP squeamishness.”
It was at this time that Paul was beginning to take a small lead in the polls over Trey Grayson, who had received the backing of the Republican establishment. It doesn’t appear that Rove ever endorsed Grayson, but he didn’t exactly embrace Paul.
Back in 2010, Jack Hunter discussed Rove and his views of the Republican Party and governing in relation to the Kentucky Senate race between Paul and Grayson. Hunter explained that the Republican Party under George W. Bush had expanded dramatically expanded the size of the federal government.
“The inability of mainstream conservatives to separate their philosophy from the Republican Party is nothing new, but the degree to which the GOP can expand government without any retribution from supposedly conservative pundits continues to boggle the mind,” Hunter wrote at The American Conservative. “One must assume that for many right-wingers, conservatism would no longer be in ‘exile,’ to use [Sean] Hannity’s radio rhetoric, if only President Obama and the Democrats could be driven out of office and Rove and his Republican friends could be returned to it.”
But as Hunter notes, the Bush years run counter to that argument. “History has already proven them wrong and yet the mainstream Right continues to operate on this bizarre premise, whether lining up to cheer debt-doubling, TARP-voting, No Child Left Behind-promoting Republicans like John Boehner, simply for yelling in his opposition to Obamacare, or Rove, for simply being a Republican,” Hunter added. “For some, this is what conservatism now means–Republican victories and Democrat defeats-with the net, conservative results being completely irrelevant.”
That’s why the Senate race in Kentucky was so important to the future directon of the Republican Party. Hunter quoted Chris Cilizza of the Washington Post, who wrote, “A Paul win would function as a direct repudiation of Republican leadership in Washington – Grayson is seen as the handpicked choice of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell although McConnell hasn’t formally endorsed in the contest – and would quantify just how much power the anti-Washington/Tea Party/Libertarian wing of the party carries.”
He may say we need more Rand Pauls now, but when they were going toe to toe with the establishment, Rove didn’t lift a finger. In fact, as noted above, Rove discussed the “squeamishness” the Republican Party had about the race given the increasing probability of a Paul win at the time.
Rove has represented everything that is wrong with the Republican Party for a long time. His only goal is advancing the GOP, even if that means selling out core fiscal principles. There is no doubt that his latest foray will look to elect more Arlen Specters than Rand Pauls.