When Karl Rove embarked on his "Conservative Victory Fund" -- the fundraising arm of his broad "Campaign To Stop The Gaffes!" -- the first political figure that he publicly drew down on was Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who was then considered to be the major GOP contender for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat and famed steak-fryer Tom Harkin.
The New York Times, which reported on the advent of the Victory Fund, contained this quote from Rove's aide-de-camp, Steven Law: "We’re concerned about Steve King’s Todd Akin problem ...This is an example of candidate discipline and how it would play in a general election. All of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.”
By the way, previously on How To Solve A Problem Like Steve King, Law was helping to raise $400,000 to keep him in his House seat. But never mind all that, I guess.
Well, if Rove et al. thought that firing a warning shot across Steve King's bow would create an opportunity for a more amenable candidate, like Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) -- who is arguably poised to put up a better fight in a general election against the potential Democratic field -- it seems that their criticism of King is having the opposite effect. As the Iowa Republican reports today, Rove's criticisms are making it more likely that he'll embark on a run for Harkin's seat:
Ironically, the main factor spurring King toward running is Karl Rove’s efforts to prevent him from running. Rove is a renowned GOP strategist who engineered both of George W. Bush’s successful presidential elections. Rove has formed a new group called the Conservative Victory Project. Its goal is to block controversial candidates from winning the GOP nomination in senate races.
“If I would back up in front of Karl Rove’s initiative, that would just empower him, and he would go on state after state, candidate after candidate,” King said. “I don’t think any individual has the wisdom to make those kinds of decisions, but I think Iowans together can make those decisions and should. That’s the principle. We have to fight this out in the court of public opinion.”
In order to successfully portray himself as a counterweight to the GOP establishment -- a neat trick for someone who's been in Washington for a decade -- King is courting help from the conservative grassroots. At last night's State of the Union address, King's invited guest was Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, which is considering getting behind a King bid.
Regardless of who ultimately wins or loses the Iowa Senate race, this little internecine war between insiders and outsiders is definitely going to make a lot of people a lot of money. As Alex Pareene points out, this is basically the whole point of "GOP infighting," anyway.
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If It's Sunday, It's Meet The Press
Feb. 27, 2000: George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove discusses the 2000 Election on NBC's "Meet the Press" (Photo by Michael Smith)
The Butterfly Ballot
Nov. 9, 2000: Karl Rove (L), Chief strategist for Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, holds up a copy of a Cook County, Illinois, election butterfly ballot. Rove questioned statements from the campaign of Democratic candidate Al Gore that criticized the use of the same-style ballot in Palm Beach county, Florida. (PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Jan. 22, 2001: Senior George W. Bush staff members, Counselor to the President Karen Hughes (L), Senior Political Advisor to the President Karl Rove (2nd L), National Security Advisor to the President Condoleezza Rice (2nd R), and Presidential Spokesman Ari Fleischer (R) hold their right hands up during a swearing-in ceremony of dozens of staff members in the East Room of the White House. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Side By Side
Sept. 27, 2001: U.S. President George W. Bush (L) walks with his chief political adviser Karl Rove after returning to the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Oct. 5, 2001: U.S. President George W. Bush's senior adviser Karl Rove makes a signal to a White House media member as he stands in the wings of the Rose Garden in Washington, D.C. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Feb. 20, 2003: White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove (R) and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice walk toward the Marine One at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Making A Point
May 7, 2003: Bush political advisor Karl Rove speaks at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Michael Springer/Getty Images)
Can I Have Your Egg Autograph?
May 7, 2003: Bush political advisor Karl Rove is asked to autograph eggs at a 'Politics & Eggs' luncheon at the Bedford Inn in Bedford, New Hampshire. (Photo by Michael Springer/Getty Images)
May 8, 2004: Karl Rove, chief political advisor to President Bush, speaks to graduates of the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. (Photo by Eric Brady/Getty Images)
Shield The Security Advisor
Dec. 3, 2004: Presidential advisor Karl Rove(L) jokingly shields National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice from the press in Washington, D.C. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Do You See What I See?
July 14, 2005: U.S. President George W. Bush and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove walk from the Oval Office across the South Lawn of the White House toward Marine One in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Oct. 25, 2005: President Bush's senior advisor Karl Rove drives his car out of his driveway in Washington D.C. Rove is a key figure in the CIA leak investigation headed by Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mirror, Mirror On The Car
Oct. 27, 2005: President Bush's senior advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove looks through his sideview mirror as he arrives at the West Wing of the White House in Washington, DC. Rove was a key figure in the CIA leak investigation headed by Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Feb. 27, 2006: White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card (L) whispers in the ear of Senior White House Advisor Karl Rove as US President George W. Bush (not pictured) addresses a meeting of the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, D.C. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
May 15, 2006: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove holds up a copy of 'Kings of the Hill,' by Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, while delivering remarks on economic policy at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Jan. 25, 2007: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove (L), Communications Director Kevin Sullivan (C) and Spokesperson Tony Snow jokingly drink water at the same time before U.S. President George W. Bush participated a round table event at Saint Luke's East Hospital in Lee's Summit, Missouri. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Look, Obama's In The Paper
Jan. 17, 2007: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove points to today's edition of USA Today with U.S. Senator Barack Obama, D-IL, on the front page as he awaits U.S. President George W. Bush's arrival at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Wiping His Forehead
March 28, 2007: Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff, wipes his forehead before rapping with 'Who's Line is it Anyway?' stars Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood during the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, D.C. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Hug It Out
Aug. 13, 2007: U.S. President George W. Bush embraces Karl Rove, Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor, after a statement by Rove at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Oct. 21, 2008: Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to U.S. President George W. Bush, speaks during a panel discussion at the 2008 Mortgage Bankers Association Conference and Expo in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Hold The Phone
Aug. 28, 2012: Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor to U.S. President George W. Bush, walks on the floor before the start of the second day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)