02/20/2013 06:07 am ET

Newt Gingrich: Karl Rove 'Plain Wrong' On Path For GOP

Newt Gingrich is not pleased with Karl Rove's latest strategy for the Republican Party.

In an op-ed published by conservative magazine Human Events on Wednesday, the former House speaker and Republican presidential candidate spoke out against the Rove-backed Conservative Victory Project, an offshoot of Rove's American Crossroads super PAC that aims to block fringe candidates from winning GOP congressional primaries.

"I am unalterably opposed to a bunch of billionaires financing a boss to pick candidates in 50 states," Gingrich writes. "This is the opposite of the Republican tradition of freedom and grassroots small town conservatism. ... It should be repugnant to every conservative and every Republican."

After the 2012 election delivered disappointing defeats for Republicans, Rove and other GOP strategists have focused on broadening the party's appeal. Part of that strategy is eliminating unpredictable candidates like Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, whose Senate bids and ultimate defeats were defined by their controversial comments on rape.

"There is a broad concern about having blown a significant number of races because the wrong candidates were selected,” American Crossroads president Steven J. Law told The New York Times earlier this month. “We don’t view ourselves as being in the incumbent protection business, but we want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win.”

Gingrich, who backed Akin's Senate run, argues that the approach pushed by Rove and other establishment Republicans in 2012 didn't pan out.

Rove "was simply wrong last year," Gingrich writes. "He was wrong about the presidential race. .. He was also wrong about Senate races. While Rove would like to argue his 'national nomination machine' will protect Republicans from candidates like those who failed in Missouri and Indiana, that isn't the bigger story."

That bigger story, according to Gingrich, is that Republicans lost seven additional races, all of which he says were "winnable."

"So in seven of the nine losing races, the Rove model has no candidate-based explanation for failure," Gingrich writes.

Gingrich joins a growing roster of conservatives taking issue with Rove's latest venture. Last week, Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad blasted Rove's project as "counter-productive" and a "mistake," while Akin himself described it as an attempt to "get rid of conservatives." Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), a Tea Party favorite who lost his reelection bid last fall, has announced plans to launch his own super PAC to counter Rove's efforts and "fight for the soul of the Republican Party."

Rove has defended the project, insisting that he doesn't want a "fight" with the Tea Party and other conservative groups.

"It's amazing that people think Todd Akin was the best we could've come up with," Rove said on Fox News. "We need to get better conservative candidates and win."


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