By Jonathan Easley - 02/20/13 01:50 PM EST
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) ripped Republican strategist Karl Rove on Wednesday for launching a super-PAC aimed at preventing weak Republican candidates it fears can win GOP primaries but not a general election.
Gingrich experienced this tension first-hand during his failed Republican presidential run last year. After a surprising rise in the polls, Gingrich was broadsided by a torrent of negative super-PAC advertisements that sunk his once-promising campaign.
But Gingrich was also once a vocal supporter of the 2010 Supreme Court decision in favor of Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission that opened the door for the unlimited spending that the super-PACs that his rivals used against him. He was also aided during his failed presidential campaign by billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson, who gave millions to super-PACs supporting Gingrich.
“When you get involved in these kinds of primary fights, it’s almost all negative advertising and it’s all by outsiders,” he continued on Wednesday.
“I think this is a very dangerous model. The fact is, last year we lost nine U.S. Senate races that we could’ve won. There’s a very deep rethinking we need to do as a party, but it isn’t gathering up more money by Washington consultants for them to try and hand-pick across all 50 states the people they think should be in the U.S. Senate.”
Rove, who was a senior adviser to former President George W. Bush, launched the Conservative Victory Project earlier this year.
The political action committee's stated intent is to aid conservative Republican candidates Rove believes "can win." But the group has come under fire from some grassroots groups that argue the party establishment is attempting to crowd out their efforts.
Rove served as an adviser to American Crossroads, one of the most aggressive outside donors in the 2012 election cycle. But a study published in November by the Sunlight Foundation found that Rove had a success rate of just 1 percent on $103 million in attack ads purchased — among the lowest return on investment of any outside group.
“I hope ... the major donors will think long and hard before they turn lots of money over to the consultants who lost nine Senate races last year that we could have won,” Gingrich continued.
“And I hope the entire party will come to the conclusion that the Republican Party has to become capable of competing and reaching out to every part of the American society and then providing better solutions than the Democrats have. You can’t just be an opposition party, you have to be the party that attracts people to your side.”
Gingrich said President Obama has built up a campaign infrastructure that dwarfs that of the Republicans.
“A lot of our consultants are frankly just kidding themselves about how big the gap is,” Gingrich said. “The Obama campaign today is about eight years or 10 years ahead of the Republican Party in the very fundamental effort to understand this country. This is a country which is in many ways younger, more Latino, more Asian-American, more African-American, than Republican strategists are capable of dealing with. As a result, in many ways we’re non-competitive at the presidential level.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is traveling the country to meet with community leaders to discuss how the GOP can more effectively appeal to minority voters.
President Obama won 93 percent of the black vote, 71 percent of the Hispanic vote and 73 percent of the Asian vote in the 2012 election, provoking many Republicans to re-examine their message and policies as they relate to minorities.