Is Karl Rove Losing It?
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But the Democrats failed to drive a stake through Rove’s heart. As I recount in “Boss Rove,” after the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision in 2010, Rove co-founded American Crossroads and its sister group, Crossroads GPS, to become king of the super PACs. He then used his position at Fox News and the Wall Street Journal to take potshots at Romney’s GOP rivals. All of which left Boss Rove sitting in the catbird seat overseeing as much as a billion dollars in super PAC funding to be spent in the general election.
But now it is questionable as to whether even that vast sum can repair the damage wrought by Romney’s candidacy. If Rove decides Romney is a lost cause, he can divert huge sums to key Senate races — and in large measure he has already begun to do that. But abandoning Romney completely will hurt down-ballot GOP candidates nationwide.
Of course, money is not the only weapon in Rove’s arsenal. Remember the smears against John McCain in the 2000 primaries claiming that he’d fathered a child with an African-American prostitute? Or the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth whose falsehoods destroyed John Kerry? Push polls that spread rumors that Democratic candidates were lesbians or pedophiles? “Caging” tactics that challenged the voter registrations of African-American voters in Ohio in 2004?
They were all dazzlingly effective strikes that were strategically timed and placed to take down the enemy — with no fingerprints. It just happened that, again and again, they benefited Karl Rove’s candidate.
This time, voter suppression may be Rove’s most powerful gambit. For nearly a decade, he has promoted voter ID laws, and in November at least 23 states will be impacted by GOP attempts to suppress the vote. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, more than 5 million voters may be affected.
Meanwhile, whatever the outcome of the election, Karl Rove is playing the long game. He’s vying for complete control of the party. He still has his hands on the super PAC purse strings — and that money means he runs the Republican Party. Even if Romney loses, he will still be in control. It’s just that he may be thinking about 2016 a bit earlier than he had planned.