Chris Chocola, the president of the Club for Growth, told Breitbart News this weekend that establishment Republicans who have no qualms about growing the size of government and benefit from it find the fiscally conservative group to be a nuisance because the Club aggressively identifies conservatives and backs them in Republican primaries.
And when candidates the Club for Growth supports come to Washington, they often do not just “go along to get along,” especially when it comes to matters regarding taxes and spending.
Case in point: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
In 2012, establishment Republicans like Karl Rove and American Crossroads preferred Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst over Ted Cruz in the Texas Republican Senate primary, with their donors backing Dewhurst against Cruz. It was the Club for Growth that helped Cruz counter the Rove-approved establishment money that was going to Dewhurst’s campaign in addition to Dewhurst’s considerable wealth, which he used to self-fund his failed Senate run. The Club for Growth spent $5.5 million in independent expenditure ads to support Cruz in his fight against Dewhurst. The group accounted for 83% of all pro-Cruz outside spending.
While Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Cruz ultimately got the attention of and galvanized Tea Partiers and conservatives to ensure Cruz got into the runoff against Dewhurst, the Club for Growth’s money ensured Cruz could stay on the air against Dewhurst in Texas’s huge and expensive media markets.
Rove, in stark contrast, said on Fox News’ “Hannity” after Cruz won the primary that Texas had “three good candidates” in that race, meaning Rove, unlike the Club for Growth, would have been perfectly content with the more moderate candidates like Dewhurst who would not fight in Washington, D.C.
Last year, the group emphasized that it committed “to do everything within our power to ensure Cruz won the primary” and “went all in and it did so because it is absolutely critical to the future of our nation that we have a true fiscal conservative representing the state of Texas in the United States Senate.”
And that’s exactly what Cruz has done since arriving in Washington, D.C., voting against John Kerry to be the next Secretary of State and fiercely questioning President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel to the point where liberals have resorted to calling him a “McCarthyite.”
Chocola noted the Republican establishment often views the types of candidates the Club for Growth supports as “threats to the big-government status quo” that Republicans often help enable.
Chocola added that in part because of the group’s efforts, those in Congress are talking about “spending less money, not simply slowing the rate of growth of spending.”
The full interview with Chocola is below.
Breitbart News: Given the success of Club for Growth in supporting free market principles, policies and candidates, what do you make of the attacks–often behind closed doors–by establishment figures like Karl Rove and Haley Barbour regarding your involvement in Republican primaries?
Chris Chocola: We’re not surprised at all. The Republican establishment has always viewed the types of candidates supported by our PAC as threats to the big-government status quo that the GOP often helps enable. We’ll continue to support candidates like Ted Cruz, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). They’ll continue to support candidates like David Dewhurst, Arlen Specter, and Charlie Crist. It’s that simple.
Breitbart News: What are Club for Growth’s key objectives for 2013?
Chris Chocola: We want to continue to grow the pro-growth caucus by supporting strong, fiscally conservative candidates through our PAC. We are hoping that the candidates the PAC has helped elect are helping to drive the agenda within the Republican Party. We’ll be watching closely to see if Republicans stand strong on sequestration and the continuing resolution. We’ll be urging them to cut spending and put us on a path to a balanced budget within 10 years. The whole purpose of the Club for Growth is to encourage policies that lead to a high-growth economy, and we’re very concerned that our growing debt burden and uncertainty about our economic future is holding us back. All we’ve ever wanted from Congress is responsible behavior, and we think that message is beginning to percolate throughout capitol hill. For the first time in a long time, members of Congress are talking about spending less money, not simply slowing the rate of growth of spending. That’s a sea-change, and we’re looking to build on that momentum.
Breitbart News: When you look at specific policy proposals–such as those dealing with the debt ceiling, the deficit, the fiscal cliff, and federal spending in general–do you think the Club is winning the war of war of ideas among the Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Chris Chocola: We take pride in our ability to advocate for free markets and limited government, but it’s really the new members we’ve helped elect through our PAC that are driving policy. It’s because of members of Congress like Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Pat Toomey that earmarks are banned. It’s because of members like Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) that the culture of the Senate is beginning to change. We supported those members and others because of what they believe, and they will stand and fight for their principles. Our goal is to get a majority of the majority. We’re not there yet, but the changes that have happened within the Republican Party on policy over the past decade because of the Club for Growth and its members is undeniably positive.