"Karl Rove is bad news for the Republican Party."
With those words Donald Trump officially joined the ongoing battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party by aligning himself as a defender of the tea party and a merciless critic of Karl Rove and his new, controversial initiative known as the "Conservative Victory Project."
Trump's fiery appearance on The Mark Levin Show signaled an escalation in the very public argument that has played out over the past ten days between divergent factions of the GOP.
Trump and Levin hit Rove where it really hurts. First Trump criticized Rove's effectiveness as a campaign strategist by slamming his SuperPAC, American Crossroads' performance in the 2012 election: "Four hundred million dollars was wasted. They do the worst ads I have ever seen, ever."
Levin followed up with what might be the most significant line of attack against Rove: "I would say to the wealthy donors out there, 'Why do you keep donating to him?' why don't you donate to all these groups who are actually grassroots, who are actually fighting and who are actually effective?"
The combination of the influential voice of Mark Levin challenging donors to shut-down the flow of cash to the Rove machine, coupled with Trump (one of those high-profile donors) repeating FIVE TIMES the fact that Rove spent "four hundred million dollars" with no results to show for it could have a brutally devastating effect on the former Bush strategist's balance sheet.
Trump then positioned himself as the defender of the tea party movement: "If the Republicans are going to win, they're going to have to break away from the Karl Rove's of the world and, frankly, get more about you know the tea party... they are great Americans, they love this country, they work so hard, and they have been so mistreated by the liberal press, the liberal media. They have been just so mistreated and made to look so bad."
The continuing battle playing out on cable news, talk radio and on influential websites will surely continue now that Trump has entered the fray. And with stalwart Republican names like Rove and Barbour on one side and Bozell and Schlafly (now joined by Levin and Trump) on the other, this could shape up to get even uglier as the battle wages on.