Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bob Woodward tells Karl Rove "Some people never go away"

Posted By on Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Karl Rove is now getting it from Republicans
  • Karl Rove is now getting it from Republicans
As the media continues to focus on the GOP and their real and perceived limitations following last November's election (Robert Draper's story "Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?" in today's New York Times magazine is the latest example), there's been a fun little internecine battle going on with Republicans regarding Karl Rove in the past few weeks.

That's after Rove launched his new group, the Conservative Victory Project, which aims to select GOP Senate candidates who have a legitimate chance of winning high office, unlike several of the Tea Party favorites in recent years whose ideology or character doomed their chances with mainstream voters (Sharon Angle or Christine O'Donnell, anyone? How about Todd Akin?)

If you've followed Rove's career since he led George W. Bush to the White House 13 years ago, this isn't surprising. Back then he was known for using all his heft to have more mainstream candidates run over harder right-wing types before a primary election, always cognizant that it would be better for Republicans to actually control the Senate, and not be necessarily ideological pure.

But that was before the Tea Party was officially created. And the blowback against Rove recently has been intense, particularly after there were "indications" that the Conservative Victory Project would target the very conservative Iowa Congressman Steve King if he tried to run for the state's open Senate seat in 2014.

One of the more polite responses to Rove's campaign came from Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad, who said "I basically told Karl Rove that what he was doing is counter-productive and he needs to stay out of it."

In a recent radio interview with conservative talk-show host Mark Levin, Donald Trump said Rove "gave us" President Obama in 2012, and that he had a "lousy record" when it came to backing candidates in 2012 (In fact Rove's two super PAC'S did spend hundreds of millions of dollars to little success in trying to oust President Obama and other Democrats last year).

Beaten but unbowed, Rove was given a moment on Fox News Sunday to defend himself, responding to host Chris Wallace and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, who said that Rove was acting as his own "Politboro."


WALLACE: — Tea Party candidates are saying you are trying to beat them.

ROVE: No. No. No, some people associated with the Tea Party element. Look, Todd Akin was not a Tea Party candidate. Tea Partiers supported the other two candidates in the Republican primaries.

WALLACE: Todd Akin, the guy who said, legitimate rape in a Missouri ...

ROVE: Right. And our object is, to avoid having stupid candidates who can't win general elections, who are undisciplined, can't raise money, aren't putting together the support necessary to win a general election campaign, because this money is too difficult to raise to be spending it on behalf of candidates who have little chance of winning in a general election.

WALLACE: You say this as the Tea Party thinks — the Tea Party think you are going after — let me just — let me just finish. So they say there were plenty of bad establishment candidates in North Dakota, in Virginia and Wisconsin, they say, a lot of them blew chances in races that they should have picked up ....

(CROSSTALK)

ROVE: I think that is right. Look, let's take case of Indiana where we had a candidate, Richard Mourdock, who lost the general election in a state that was comfortably won by Mitt Romney and reelected Republicans up and down the ballot. There are two people responsible for the loss in Indiana race, one of them is Richard Mourdock, who ran an undisciplined campaign, in which he said if a woman was raped and conceived a child, it was God's will. But there is another person to blame there, too, and with all due respect, Senator Lugar had lost touch with the voters of his state. He was registered to vote in a place he hadn't own since 1973, he's last gone home for a Lincoln Day dinner in the 1980s. The top leaders of his party and his state had never met him, and he rarely went home. And there comes a point at which even accomplished statesmen like that will — will cause the loss of an election if they don't step aside and allow a robust, normal primary to emerge.

WALLACE: Bob, what does it say about the Republican Party when you have Karl Rove stepping in there to say we have got to try to police those Republican primary voters — I mean, it's part of the process, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, but they are trying to police who Republican primary voters are going to pick to go up against Democrats ...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: ... and let me just finish the question. And, when you have Marco Rubio, who is pretty conservative and a Tea Party favorite giving the Republican response, and the Tea Party thinks they have to have somebody else to give a response to the response?

BOB WOODWARD, THE WASHINGTON POST: My last book is going to be called "Some People Never Go Away," and Karl is going to get his own chapter.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODWARD: Because he never goes away. And ...

(CROSSTALK)

ROVE: I'm sorry.

WOODWARD: OK, maybe two chapters, because, you never know what the next bounce will be with you. But, what is interesting is the focus on money. I think the problem in the Republican Party is really not money. I think they've got lots of it. I think it is - theory of the case, why are we here, what is our message, how to connect to the real world and this idea about 30 million here, we're going to do that, I think is the wrong track.

WALLACE: Karl, your response.

ROVE: Well, I think he's right. I used the $30 million to prove that we were pro-Tea Party, but I think you are right. A lot of this is just simply examining these candidates, looking at their record, doing the kind of research on ourselves as the other side is already going to be doing and trying to have discussions behind the scenes among conservative groups as to how strong are these respective candidates, because look, there was a reason why Todd Akin won the primary, he won the primary because Harry Reid went in and spent $2 million attacking him as a conservative during the Republican primary. He said he never voted for a tax increase, he's always been pro-life, he's even supported a balanced budget amendment, too conservative from Missouri, and the object was nominate — help nominate the weakest Republican candidate possible so they'd have a chance ...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODWARD: But you're going to set yourself up as a kind of politburo, vetting these candidates ...

ROVE: No, no, I mean ...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODWARD: I mean the whole theory of Republicanism is to let the local state or a district decide.

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