“We’ve given away at least five seats in the last two election cycles, maybe more, because of poor candidates,” Rove said. “Our donors said ‘we’re happy to write big checks, but we’re sick and tired of writing checks for campaign that can’t win.’”
But critics, including leaders of the anti-tax group Club for Growth, contend that Rove and the new group represent the Republican establishment’s effort to push out conservative, tea party candidates.
Rove, disagreed, saying American Crossroads had a strong record of funding tea party candidates and other conservatives.
“It’s not a question of ideology,” Rove said. “The quality of candidates matters.”
Rove mentioned missed opportunities last year to win Senate seats because of Republicans Todd Atkin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana as examples of why the Conservative Victory Project was needed. They both were sunk after making bizarre comments about women. Rove also cited Christine O’Donnell, the 2010 Senate nominee in Delaware, as a losing candidate that should have been vetted by Republican leaders.
“My posterior was shredded a little bit by donors wondering why we are writing checks for people who then turn around a run such lousy campaigns.”
Rove and American Crossroads were symbols of the awful year Republicans had nationally.
“Yeah, I’m personally responsible for it all, I tell you,” he joked as NCPA President and CEO John Goodman tossed him questions.