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Gingrich: Rove’s Plans to Weed Out GOP Candidates ‘Repugnant’

By Sandy Fitzgerald   |   Wednesday, 20 Feb 2013 04:23 PM

Image: Gingrich: Rove’s Plans to Weed Out GOP Candidates ‘Repugnant’
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich blasted Karl Rove's strategy of weeding out GOP candidates. (AP Photo)
Newt Gingrich has slammed former presidential adviser Karl Rove's new super PAC, Conservative Victory Project, saying it is “repugnant” for Rove to use the PAC against conservative Republican candidates he doesn't think are fit to run.

“I am unalterably opposed to a bunch of billionaires financing a boss to pick candidates in 50 states,” the former House speaker wrote in an op-ed piece published Tuesday in the weekly conservative newspaper Human Events.

“This is the opposite of the Republican tradition of freedom and grassroots, small-town conservatism. No one person is smart enough, nor do they have the moral right, to buy nominations across the country.

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“That is the system of Tammany Hall and the Chicago machine. It should be repugnant to every conservative and every Republican,” he added.

Rove's efforts have been criticized by other conservatives and tea party activists, who say he should not determine who runs for office. Rove, however, counters that other groups have put millions of dollars behind tea party candidates, including Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida.

The former White House senior adviser said his PAC was launched to prevent further Republican losses in the wake of the November election, when Senate candidates Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana lost winnable seats after making comments about rape.

Gingrich says Rove's explanation of his PAC effort fails to make sense because it doesn't address GOP losses in other states last year.

“Republicans lost winnable Senate races in Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida,” Gingrich wrote. “So in seven of the nine losing races, the Rove model has no candidate-based explanation for failure. Our problems are deeper and more complex than candidates.”

Spending millions to weed out candidates won't help the party, he concluded.

“Handing millions to Washington-based consultants to destroy the candidates they dislike and nominate the candidates they do like is an invitation to cronyism, favoritism and corruption,” he said.

Gingrich said he was putting his criticism down in words “in a very direct, no baloney effort to get across how much trouble we Republicans are in and how real the internal party fight is going to be.”

He said he strongly supported Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus’s efforts to learn from the mistakes of 2012. He had strong words for party consultants — particularly Mitt Romney’s senior strategist Stuart Stevens.

“These consultants have made an amazing amount of money asserting an expertise they clearly don't have,” Gingrich wrote. “They have existed in a system in which the candidate was supposed to focus on raising money and the smart consultant would design the strategy, spend the money and do the thinking. This is a terrible system.”

He added, “Republicans need to drop the consultant-centric model and go back to a system in which candidates have to think and consultants are adviser and implementers but understand that the elected official is the one who has to represent the voters and make the key decisions.”

Gingrich also said the GOP has failed to grasp technological improvements or adapt to an altered demographic.

“As Reagan biographer Craig Shirley told me, ‘Commercial radio was a new technology in the early 1930s and Reagan adapted to it. Talking movies were a new technology in the late '30s and Reagan adapted to it. Network television was a new technology in the early 1950s and Reagan adapted to it. If Reagan were alive today, he'd be tweeting.’”

Gingrich took his criticism to the nation’s television screens on Tuesday, telling “CBS This Morning” that the main reason the GOP lost was because it failed to respond to the changing demographic landscape.

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He said President Barack Obama's campaign was “eight, maybe 10 years ahead” of the Republican Party when it came to understanding how the American electorate was changing.

“You can't just be an opposition party,” said Gingrich. “You have to be a party that has a better alternative.”

Democrats, Gingrich said, have accepted and adapted to voters who are “in many ways younger, more Latino, more African American, than Republican strategists are capable of dealing with.”

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