One way to understand how much has changed since 2008 is to visit one office building in downtown Washington. On the 12th floor are the offices of American Crossroads, which plans to spend more than $50 million influencing the midterm elections. American Crossroads was the brainchild of a group of top Republican insiders, including two of George W. Bush's closest White House political advisers, Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, both of whom remain informal advisers. (Neither would talk for this article.)
Running the group's day-to-day operations, with a staff of about 10, is a GOP establishment insider named Steven Law. A silver-haired, genial veteran of Republican politics — he is a former chief of staff to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell — Law sits behind a tidy desk as he boasts about his group's grand plans. They include a fall advertising blitz that in the past month has already targeted Democratic candidates in at least six states, including Colorado, Nevada, Missouri and California, as well as a monster $10 million national get-out-the-vote campaign that will include 40 million pieces of political mail and 20 million phone calls to voters in key states. "I catch my breath every time I say it," Law says of the huge numbers. (See "Florida GOP Candidate Wins a Finance Ruling Against Rich Opponent.")
At the same time, American Crossroads is helping coordinate a network of some two dozen conservative independent groups, planning ad campaigns and mailers, to ensure that they aren't duplicating or interfering with one another's work — "like kids' soccer, where they all run to the ball instead of spreading out," Law says.
An independent Republican organization is on the attack with new television commercials in Colorado and Missouri.
American Crossroads says it launched ads Wednesday that target Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado and Missouri Secretary of State and Senate nominee Robin Carnahan, criticizing both for "supporting out of control federal spending."
"Both Robin Carnahan and Micahel Bennet are trying not to blush as they tell Missouri and Colorado voters that they're somehow 'fiscally conservative,'" says American Crossroads communications director Jonathan Collegio. "These spots pull back their respective curtains to show voters what they really are: desperate liberal politicians addicted to pork, stimulus and bailouts, all at the expense of taxpayers."