Tea Party Group Paints Rove as Nazi

Karl Rove, foe of the Tea Party movement, may turn out to be its best friend. Ever since the announcement of of a new superPAC put together by Rove and his allies at American Crossroads, Rove has himself in the cross-hairs of the Tea Party's heat-seeking fundraising missives, replacing President Barack Obama as the right wing's enemy #1. Rove, you see, is launching his superPAC -- which bears the Tea Partyish name, "Conservative Victory Project" -- to defeat Tea Party candidates in Republican primaries for U.S. Senate seats.

That was enough to see the Tea Party Patriots, in a fundraising e-mail, paint Rove as a Nazi, with the help of Photoshop.

Politico's Ken Vogel reports that TPP's latest e-mail blast features a photo of Rove dressed in the uniform of SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, and was sent from TPP founder Jenny Beth Martin with a subject line that reads: "Wipe the Smirk Off Karl Rove's Face."

But it was all a big mistake, TPP spokesperson Jameson Cunningham told Vogel, and provided the reporter with a draft of the e-mail that showed a different image of Rove (one of the Tea Party nemesis thumbing his nose). As Cunningham tells it, the image the group had indicated for use in the e-mail was part of a slide show that also contained the Rove-as-Nazi image, so it all just got mixed up.

For progressives, it's a rather delicious turn of events in the spectacular war between Rove and the Tea Party movement. But they'd be wise not to relish it too much, since, as Salon's Alex Pareene has observed, it's a war that is likely to raise money for both sides. But Rove's new enterprise could blow up in his face, posits Nate Silver, the data geek most hated by the GOP if, in targeting primary challengers, the new superPAC generates sympathy for the insurgent candidates.

It all began with the disaster of 2012, when the whole Republican Party picked a bunch of losers in Senate races, be they the more establishment candidates backed by Rove and his Crossroads empire, or rape apologists like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, whose insurgent candidacies were launched by Tea Party activists. Rove, whose donors poured millions into losing races, sought to blame those losses on the Tea Party. And Tea Party bosses like Richard Viguerie blamed Republican losses on on Rove (as I reported here).

Of the Tea Party Patriots in particular relation to Rove, there's a battle brewing over the likely candidacy of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat.

King -- famous for making such outlandish remarks as comparing immigrants to dogs, or claiming never to have heard of a minor becoming pregnant via rape or incest -- is exactly the kind of Republican that Rove would like to prevent from running in a statewide race. But already, King is using Rove's opposition to raise himself some bucks.

Not to be left out of the superPAC business, TPP has formed its own, the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, which has already thrown in behind King, should he choose to launch a Senate bid. That scored TPP's Jenny Beth Martin a seat at King's side for the State of the Union, writes Salon's Jillian Rayfield.

Today, Ken Vogel reports, five hours after her Rove-as-Nazi e-mail went out, Martin issued a contrite statement:

“We apologize to Mr. Rove,” Martin said in the statement. “While we may have strong disagreements with Mr. Rove on the future of conservatism, we want to be clear this imagery is absolutely unacceptable and are working to ensure this type of mistake doesn’t happen again.”

We look forward to seeing Rove dressed as Stalin. Or King George. But that Nazi thing -- that's over.

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