The Daily Rundown | February 04, 2013
>>> one of the biggest political stories of 2013 will be how the republican party reinvents itself. and where the tea party fits in. some veteran republicans believe that tea party conservatives cost the party as many as five senate seats over the last two cycles by getting into general election races they couldn't win. now a new group led by karl rove is vowing to take on tea party candidates to either defeat them or bring them into the mainstream. with me is steven law who is leading the conservative victory project and chris chicola, former indiana congressman and president of the club for growth which opposes mr. rove's new effort. welcome, gentlemen. you guys have promised to not physically engage. just verbally.
>> come on.
>> just verbal strikes. why do you believe this is necessary, and what makes your track record at american crossroads, which wasn't great in 2012 --
>> -- one that's worthy of following to bring the republican party back into the majority in the u.s. senate ?
>> chuck, we invested over $30 million between 2010 and 2012 in very conservative tea party backed candidates. some of them are great. rubio, rand paul, pat toomey . some were disastrous. todd akin , david murdock and sharron angle . we need to evaluate everything we did. but it also includes, i think, focusing more on quality candidate selection to make sure that we've got really, really good candidates who can win in elections and that we can effectively back when we get into general elections .
>> chris , one of the chief complaints i hear from people like steve having to do with the club for growth is that you guys get involved in a primary and then you don't get involved and you walk away . when you win you don't do as much that can be done in a general election .
>> facts matter. and the fact is in seven election cycles, 14 years, the club for growth has backed two candidates in contested primaries that became the nominee. so they won the primary, that didn't become members of congress. two in 14 years.
>> who are those two?
>> richard mourdock and sharron angle . everyone else we've endorsed in a primary. in a contested primary that they won, they became members of congress. so we think that's a record that, you know, not too troubling. and the question really isn't why did richard mourdock and todd akin lose. we know why. the question is why did tommy thompson , rick burg, denny rehberg why did they lose? they were establishment backed kind of clear the field type of candidates so they can just win these races. it's not the obvious loss. it's nobody has to question why should all these establishment candidates lose.
>> sure, i think chris raises a good point. the issue of candidate quality is not an ideological one. it's not because we're necessarily nominating candidates who are too conservati conservative . we're nominating those who don't have the discipline or fund-raising drive or a lot of other things they need to effectively compete against a very good democrat candidate.
>> what's going tor your criteria to get into a primary?
>> our first goal will be to focus on candidate vetting. to take a good, deep look at how they performed as candidates in the past. the things they've said and accomplished and their ability to build a broad based network of support inside the state. our hope is we can build a consensus among groups like ours that there's a particular candidate who is the best conservative who can win that race and we ought to support. if there's a difference of opinion, at some point we'll have to weigh in and decide whether we weigh in. that will be a complex question .
>> the big disagreement i get, though, from the different groups is you are in a process. you are thinking process . you are thinking who can win. and you are looking at candidates that align with you on specific issues.
>> we think principles matter. core beliefs matter and we think the voters notice.
>> how do you square this? because you can -- do you ever not back a candidate -- have you ever made the decision not to back a candidate, sfrn they were with you on all the issues but you saw, boy, they could really blow it.
>> i think our record proves that that is the case. we think --
>> you've walked away from candidates who were with you on everything, against a flaw of somebody you didn't really think was going to be a too centrist or somebody that wasn't going to be with you but you walked away from that race?
>> we picked underdogs a lot when we endorsed marco rubio and ted cruz . he was 3% in the polls. but we thing core principles matter. when you have a candidate that can deliver a clear articulate, convincing economic conservative message, they can win anywhere. pat toomey can win in pennsylvania. marco rubio can win in a state like florida. we think principle matters. we don't thing buckley rule that people want to kind of hide behind by saying that most conservative person that wins. well, who decides that? you can't pick candidates. you can support candidates. the voters pick the candidates that are --
>> how can you -- how can you pick?
>> i think there's a little distinction here and that is that, obviously, principles are the most important thing. but there are also other ingredients that go into making an effective candidate. richard mourdock had impeccable conservative credentials.
>> he won statewide.
>> he had.
>> what made him a flop?
>> he had a record of lack of discipline in the things he said. coming out of the gate saying i like politics because it allows me to inflict my opinion on other people was something a lot of people found offensive. we tested that with focus groups and found people didn't like it. republicans didn't like it. and it suggested a verbal-style in a way of communicating that wasn't --
>> but you didn't get involved in that race.
>> we didn't get involved.
>> we didn't get involved in the primary.
>> because it was our policy not to get involved in primaries. we invested $6 million to get him over the finish line. one thing that this shows susthat it is possible to lose even in a very, very comfortably red state when you have a candidate on our side who is flawed and they can put somebody --
>> first place you guys could clash may be the state of iowa . are there candidates there that you could not support in the republican primary ? tom latham , steve king . is this a place where you guys expect to be clashing?
>> i don't know. there are no candidates yet. nobody has decided they're going to run. tom latham has a less than stellar score with us on economic issues. and, you know, steve king ran a very disciplined race in a very competitive race in 2012 against vilsack who was well funded. so i think we have to look at what the candidate field is and the relative difference between the candidate. shngets that matter as you are vetting in this race. you look at steve king and think he's not electable statewide and yet he beat vilsack and democrats were following him around with video cameras hoping to catch him in a todd akin moment, and they never did.
>> we put $400,000 into that race in support of him this last go around. but i think the question i was raising in "the new york times" piece was simply that candidate vetting, what people say, what they have done, what they might do in the future has got to be an ingredient in deciding who you are going to support down the road.
>> we vet candidates all day every day. that's what we do. we try to find people that have core beliefs that will take those beliefs to washington and articulate them to the voters. campaigns are about the battle of ideas. a candidate with good ideas. they can articulate them and win anywhere.
>> thank you both for doing this. a very civil discussion.
>> thanks a lot.
>> appreciate it.
>>> up next issue senator bob menendez tries again to make those prostitution allegations go away.
>>> plus, new jersey governor chris christie shares some laughs and a doughnut with david letterman .
>>> and closing in on confirmation. chuck hagel moves a step closer to becoming the next secretary of defense.
>>> name the one cabinet nominee who was rejected by the senate twice. tweet me an