Tuesday night, Karl Rove went on Fox News’ Hannity to deliver a mea culpa for a New York Times article which reported that the “biggest donors in the Republican Party” were working with him and Steven J. Law, president of American Crossroads, to “recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s effort to win control of the Senate.”
Rove led off by directly contravening the Times article. “This is not to protect incumbent Republicans,” said Rove. “It’s to get in races where it’s important to have a winning candidate, it’s to try and find the most conservative candidate who can win … Our job is not to protect incumbents, it’s to win races by stopping the practice of giving away some of these seats like we did in Missouri and Indiana this last year.”
Sean Hannity rightly pointed out that both he and other Tea Partiers including Sarah Palin wanted Todd Akin to step out of the Missouri Senate race. Rove acknowledged that, and added, “It’s amazing to me that people think Todd Akin was the best we could have come up with. He wasn’t even a Tea Partier … But for some reason or another we have a bunch of Tea Party people for their own reasons, Tea Party professionals, trying to suggest he was the best we could come up with.”
Rove then pulled out his signature whiteboard to show American Crossroads’ expenditures on Tea Party candidates. “Crossroads is second to none in our support of Tea Party candidates,” said Rove, showing a list of Tea Party candidates including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sharron Angle, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Richard Mourdock, and Todd Akin who had all received American Crossroads support in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.
This was a different argument than the one presented by Rove and American Crossroads in the New York Times article. Hannity questioned Rove about that – and Rove responded by stating, “It was written by the New York Times!,” implying that the Times had skewed the reporting. That, of course, does not answer why American Crossroads or Rove went to the New York Times to leak the story in the first place.
“You’ve seen the reaction of Tea Party groups,” Hannity pressed, “and my friend Mark Levin was excoriating you on radio yesterday. I look at the Tea Party movement, and I consider myself a Tea Party conservative — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) – there are instances there … Specter was chosen by the establishment over Toomey.” Rove answered that he had supported Specter when he was the incumbent, but got behind Toomey in 2009 personally.
“This is not Tea Party versus establishment,” said Rove. “I don’t want a fight.”
Good. Then let’s unify around the most conservative candidate who is articulate – not the crystal ball attempts to shift conservative principles in order to read the tea leaves. Few wanted Todd Akin for Senate after his gaffe. He was not a Tea Party candidate. What we want is a Republican Party unified behind the best principled candidate. And unity requires respect for the Tea Party and its values – the values of the constitution.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).