Chocola to Rove: ‘You’re Not Helping the Republicans’ by Targeting Candidates

Monday, 04 Feb 2013 07:51 PM

By Paul Scicchitano and Kathleen Walter

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Club for Growth President Chris Chocola tells Newsmax TV that Karl Rove and Steve Long would be better served to find out why establishment GOP candidates were defeated in the November election rather than targeting fellow Republicans who don’t meet their expectations of electability.

“I think there might be some money that is wasted because the question isn’t why Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost — we know why they lost,” said Chocola in an exclusive interview on Monday. “The question is really why did Heather Wilson in New Mexico, Rick Berg in North Dakota, Denny Rehberg in Montana, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, George Allen in Virginia and Linda Lingle in Hawaii — why did they lose?”

Story continues below video.



Rove and Long’s group, American Crossroads, has formed a new organization called the Conservative Victory project that plans to target Republican candidates it deems unelectable. The organization was formed because of concern that Republicans, like Akin and Mourdock were blowing races largely as a result of their conservative views on social issues.

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“We just think that principled conservatives can win anywhere and we think that there’s a false electability standard that you really can’t rely on if you don’t couple the candidate with the principled conservative message,” insisted Chocola, a former congressman from Indiana, who said that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania might have been targeted under such logic.

“So we’re really happy that there’s Sen. Rubio and Sen. Toomey now and we think that when the establishment tries to pick candidates simply because they’re Republican, and simply because they view them as electable, but don’t really focus on the core principles that they articulate that that’s a pretty bad situation to find yourself in. You’re not helping the Republicans by doing that.”

He said that Rove and Long have a history of supporting candidates like former Florida Gov. Charlie Christ, and Former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter. “All you have to do is look at the history of what Karl Rove has viewed as the electable candidate in the past and you can measure, decide for yourself what you think their futures might be with this new group.”

Club for Growth is a fiscally conservative political organization that supports a low-tax and limited-government agenda. Chocola became president of the group in 2009. Before that he served two terms as a U.S. congressman from Indiana.

“Our model at the Club for Growth is to find champions of economic freedom that can deliver a clear, convincing economic conservative message like Rubio and Toomey and Ted Cruz in Texas and Jeff Flake in Arizona,” Chocola explained. “They’re going to win Republican primaries most of the time.”

Even so, Chocola doesn’t necessarily believe that Republicans will be any more vulnerable in the general elections if they have to devote more resources to overcome primary battles.

“Generally primaries are a good test to test your campaign structure, your fundraising ability, and your communications,” he observed. “A good warm up is a good thing for the big show.”

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He accused the GOP establishment of failing to learn from past elections.

“Pat Toomey in 2010 won in a blue state with a clear and convincing message. Marco Rubio won in a purple state with a clear and convincing message. You can win if you can articulate what Republicans are supposed to stand for clearly and convincingly anywhere,” said Chocola. “It’s the people that are timid and are afraid of what Republicans say they’re for — limited government, fiscal responsibility — that lose everywhere.”

With respect to America’s continuing debt crisis, Chocola said that Republicans may have more leverage today than they had at the end of last year.

“It’s the opposite situation in the fiscal cliff where taxes would go up if Congress didn’t do anything. So the leverage is with the Republicans and they have a position of strength to bargain from,” he said. “I’m being told by Republicans in the House that they are going to let the sequester happen, which is a good thing, because it actually lowers the base line and it actually cuts spending, which is an extraordinary thing for Congress to do.”

Unfortunately, he said, nobody believes that Republicans will allow a government shutdown to take place.

“They need to change that perception. I’m not advocating them shutting the government down. I’m not advocating them not raising the debt ceiling,” he said. “I’m simply advocating . . . that we engage in responsible behavior. But if they can’t get responsible behavior and they continue on a path to more debt — more deficit and suffocating ourselves in big government — then they should use their leverage.”

Chocola said that the pain from a government shutdown would “pale in comparison” to the pain from continuing on an unsustainable path.

In a wide-ranging interview, Chocola also said:
  • “It’s too early to tell” which candidates his organization will support in the next round of Senate races. “It just hasn’t developed enough for us to be able to really make any decisions,” he said.
  • Republicans need to be “less timid” in delivering their message. “They’re afraid of their message way too often,” Chocola explained. “If they can stand up there and they can say we have a better path to follow and we have history on our side that the free market system has done more for the human soul than (any) other economic model known to man . . . and this is how we’re going to make your life better based upon it — is a great message.”

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