Is America Dooming Itself To Lesser-Of-Two-Evils Presidential Elections Forever?
Crossroads, a series of PACs that have made Karl Rove very very rich as he takes a cut off the top from foolish right-wing contributors, did the above ad comparing Hillary to Nixon. It's not very persuasive and won't do much to move any narratives forward. But I'm sure Rove made some bank from it. With Paul "fresh face" Ryan perhaps taking himself out of contention-- I still don't believe it-- Rove is desperate to assure himself a steady income flow. He was hoping running campaigns to save seats for vulnerable GOP senators like Toomey, Kirk, Ayotte, Grassley, Burr, Portman, and Ron Johnson would be enough. But, as important as some big Republican donors think saving the Senate is-- a near-impossible task at this point-- that's not where the big bucks are. For Rove to really score, he needs to be playing in the presidential big leagues, not some hopeless crusade to keep Russ Feingold from eviscerating Ron Johnson.
Ken Vogel and Eli Stokols floated the idea yesterday that Rove is warming to Trump-as-nominee. He's still attacking him on and off TV as unelectable but he's trying to sucker the big moneymen into donating to Crossroads by assuring them Trump can beat the hated Hillary-- which he can't. Yesterday at the Washington Post Geg Sargent asked his readers to "marvel at these findings: Trump is viewed unfavorably by 67 percent of Americans overall; 75 percent of women; 74 percent of young voters; 91 percent of African Americans; 81 percent of Latinos; 73 percent of college-educated whites; 66 percent of white women; and 72 percent of moderates."
Perhaps Rove thinks he can make Hillary even more disliked. But if that ad above is and indication about how he plans to proceed... good luck, buddy. In a lesser-of-two evils contest between Trump and Hillary, even someone as unqualified for a leadership position as she is, stands head and shoulders above a faker like Trump, who Rove has accurately described as "a petty man consumed by resentment and bitterness” with little gravitas and almost no chance of beating Hillary. Nonetheless, financial considerations are forcing Rove to tellg big Republican donors otherwise-- blatantly lying to them like he did in 2012.
The apparent warming of the American Crossroads super PAC and its sister groups to Trump has become evident in its recent communications with donors, including a Tuesday afternoon “investor conference call,” according to multiple sources familiar with the outreach.
The phone call-- which featured Rove, Crossroads officials and a pollster-- laid out swing state polling and electoral map analysis done by the group showing circumstances in which Trump could beat Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, in a general election, according to three sources briefed on the call.
One source, a high-level operative with the Koch brothers’ conservative advocacy network, characterized the conversation as heralding “a softening of the anti-Trump position” within the big-money GOP establishment. The source added of Crossroads’ stance on Trump, “It's not that they support him, only that if he's the guy, we can do something to stop Hillary.”
And in an email to donors a couple weeks ago, American Crossroads’ president, Steven Law, wrote “our initial review of the data indicates that, because of Hillary Clinton’s toxic vulnerabilities, the presidential contest could be intensely competitive regardless of who our nominee is.”
That type of optimism-- couched as it may be-- diverges sharply from the pessimism shared by much of the GOP establishment about Trump. It mostly sees the prospect of the billionaire real estate showman winning the Republican presidential nomination as a recipe for a potentially historic electoral defeat that could set the party back years.
As word of Crossroads’ recent calibration circulated within the GOP big-money circles, it raised hackles from operatives who are still working fervently to block Trump from the nomination. They fretted that Crossroads’ positioning presaged cracks in the establishment’s anti-Trump front, and could dissuade major donors from giving to efforts to stop Trump-- or worse: Those donors might warm up to the idea of a Trump nomination, and start writing big checks to support him.
...American Crossroads and its nonprofit sister group Crossroads GPS, which Rove and former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie helped created in 2010, for a time were among the most dominant groups on the right. Rove, who rose to acclaim as the political guru for former President George W. Bush, never had a formal role with Crossroads. But he utilized his deep connections to some of the richest Republicans in the country to help the group become a powerhouse during the big money explosion sparked by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. The Crossroads groups spent $325 million during the 2012 election cycle and came to be seen as a shadow Republican Party of sorts. But their fundraising and prominence declined in subsequent cycles as candidates’ allies increasingly started their own super PACs.
In the runup to 2016, the Crossroads team spun off a Senate-focused super PAC closely affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for whom Law once worked. In his email to donors, Law suggested that the group, One Nation, would seek to help freshman GOP senators face overcome the risks posed by “the noisy spectacle of the presidential contest to define themselves independently of whoever our nominee ends up being.”
Crossroads flagship super PAC, meanwhile, has positioned itself as an anti-Clinton outfit.
It’s reported spending only $125,000 against Clinton so far, though late last month it did launch a digital campaign hitting Clinton over past scandals. Billed as the start of a #NeverHillary campaign, the ad was seen as an open plea for other establishment Republicans to aim their fire at Clinton rather than Trump.
...[Crossroads publicist Ian] Prior said the research presented on the call “has largely validated what Karl has been saying about Trump. He has a toxic level of unfavorability and much of the general election support that he has right now is less about people voting for him, and more about people voting against Hillary Clinton.”
But Rove, in his Wall Street Journal column, Fox News hits and other media appearances, has repeatedly suggested that Trump is too toxic to win a general election.
When Rove in February suggested on Fox News that Trump’s support may be plateauing, the billionaire reality television star-turned-presidential candidate lashed out on Twitter.
“@KarlRove on @FoxNews is working hard to belittle my victory. Rove is sick!” Trump tweeted, later adding for good measure “In all of television- the only one who said anything bad about last nights landslide victory-- was dopey @KarlRove. He should be fired!”
Then, late last month, Rove wrote that Trump’s favorability numbers were “staggeringly bad” and told conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt “I don’t think it’s possible” for Trump to overcome those numbers in a general election. “If he wants to change those numbers, he ought to start acting in a presidential manner, whatever he thinks that is, because right now, his numbers are abysmal,” Rove said, pining for an open convention that nominates someone other than Trump and his remaining GOP rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
“A fresh face might be the thing that could give us a chance to turn this election and win in November against Hillary,” said Rove.
Meanwhile, a survey of Time magazine readers released yesterday showed Bernie winning the magazine's annual poll, topping not only his rival Hillary Clinton but also a host of world leaders and cultural figures for who Time readers think should appear on our annual list of the most influential people in the world. Bernie didn't just score three times more votes than Hillary, he beat out Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Malala Yousafzai, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and even Pope Francis. Trump was way down the list, tied with Nicki Minaj, Dodgy Dave Cameron and Ta-Nehisi Coates for 0.6%-- and barely ahead of his supporter Caitlyn Jenner. Speaker Ryan scored an unimpressive 0.4%, tied with Kim Kardashian and John Kasich. Ted Cruz did even worse. Time's editors pick the final list, regardless of what their readers say, and that'll come out April 21.