America Rising, GOP Research Super PAC, Launches With Romney Campaign Manager At Helm

03/21/2013 05:30 pm ET | Updated Mar 21, 2013

Following a recommendation made in the Republican National Committee's recently released autopsy of the 2012 election, three top Republican strategists are launching a super PAC dedicated to opposition research, CNN reports. The model is the group American Bridge 21st Century, which gave critical aid to Democratic candidates in the last election.

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it doesn't surprise me and I understand why they would want to replicate something that was successful," Rodell Mollineau, American Bridge's executive director, told The Huffington Post.

According to CNN, the new group, named America Rising, will be led by former Mitt Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades, who rose through the ranks of Republican strategists doing opposition research for the RNC. Rhoades will be joined by two former RNC media strategists, Tim Miller and Joe Pounder.

The group aims to fill a huge gap in GOP efforts by gathering opposition research on candidates before elections and sending trackers armed with cameras onto the campaign trail to record gaffes. "We plan to start this enterprise because so many Republicans seem to agree that there is a need on our side of the aisle for an entity that is focused on solely holding Democrats accountable for their actions and records using research, candidate tracking, rapid response and digital tools," Rhoades told CNN.

CNN reports that America Rising will be split into two entities: a super PAC that aims to spread negative stories about Democrats through digital channels and earned media, and a limited liability corporation that houses a video library to be shared with GOP candidates, the RNC and other right-leaning groups.

To avoid making illegal in-kind corporate contributions, the LLC would likely need to charge candidates for access to the library.

This is slightly different than the model employed by American Bridge, which funds most of its operations through a super PAC -- it also has a 501(c)(4) arm focused on researching Republican nonprofits -- and coordinates only with other Democratic outside groups. American Bridge's super PAC spent $17 million on the 2012 election to produce an impressive trove of research on nearly every key candidate for president, Senate and House. One of its trackers was the first person to publicize Senate contender Todd Akin's infamous remarks on rape.

Mollineau argued that America Rising will have difficulty replicating his organization's work because of the nature of GOP candidates.

"Tracking isn't just about the gotcha moments and waiting for someone to say something stupid. It's about the hypocrisy and the inconsistencies," Mollineau said. "There isn't a Democratic tea party problem. So you're not going to see Democratic candidates having informed discussions about what is or what is not rape. You're not going to have Democratic candidates using the most vulgar terminology to describe America's immigrants. You're not going to have a Democratic war on women."

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