Washington (CNN) – The conservative Club for Growth is hitting back at former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for criticizing the small government group during an appearance in Utah for Republican Sen. Bob Bennett. The Club is actively working to defeat Bennett, who is seeking re-election in November.
Several Republicans are challenging Bennett from his right flank as he seeks a fourth term, largely because of his vote in favor of the Wall Street bailout in 2008. While the Club has said they will oppose Bennett, they haven't said which candidate they will support instead.
But Bennett has the backing of the National Republican Senatorial Committee - which as a rule supports Republican incumbents - and on Wednesday Gingrich showed up in Salt Lake City to lend a hand.
"I wish the Club for Growth would spend as much time and energy to defeat liberal Democrats as they do dividing Republicans," Gingrich told a crowd at Bennett's formal campaign launch, according to the Deseret News. "I try to defeat liberal Democrats. I don't spend much time trying to defeat Republicans."
That prompted the influential conservative group to take a shot at Gingrich for backing "ultra-liberal" Dede Scozzafava in last year's special election in New York's 23rd district. The moderate Scozzafava quit the race after being harangued by conservative activists who supported Doug Hoffman. Democrat Bill Owens eventually won the race.
"Newt has proven time and again that he will support any Republican, regardless of policies and principles," said Club president Chris Chocola in a statement. "That's his right, but the Club for Growth PAC puts principles over party,"
"Newt was wrong about New York-23, and he's wrong about Utah," Chocola continued. "And pretty soon, Bennett will wish Newt never gave him the kiss of Dede."
Washington (CNN) – In the wake of Republican Scott Brown's surprising win in this week's Senate special election in Massachusetts, the anti-tax Club for Growth is publicly urging Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, to challenge Sen. Evan Bayh this fall.
Pence is a hero to small-government conservatives who has beefed up his political operation in recent months along with making travels to states like Iowa and South Carolina, sparking talk that he is eyeing a White House run in 2012. Pence has also been mentioned as a potential successor to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels after Daniels' second term expires in 2013.
But the Club for Growth wants Pence to jump in the Senate race instead. Chris Chocola, the Club's president, said in a statement Thursday that Brown's win in Massachusetts "confirms that Indiana is a winnable race for a principled advocate of economic freedom and limited government."
"Mike Pence can beat Evan Bayh in November, and I join pro-growth conservatives in Indiana and around the country in hoping that he does," Chocola said.
On Wednesday, Pence confidante Tony Perkins - the president of the conservative Family Research Council - suggested to CNN that Pence isn't likely to run against Bayh. "I think he is positioned to move, but I just don't know if the Senate is where he will be," Perkins said.
(CNN) – The conservative Club For Growth formally endorsed former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio Monday over the Republican Party's choice of current Gov. Charlie Crist in that state's Senate primary race, setting the stage for what again could be a bitter intra-party battle within the GOP.
"Marco Rubio is the real deal, one of the brightest young stars in American politics today, and a proven champion of economic liberty," Club President Chris Chocola said in a statement. "He is a dynamic spokesman for the principles of limited government and economic freedom, and he will make a fantastic senator."
The endorsement is not surprising, especially after The group launched a television ad last week attacking Crist for claiming recently on CNN he did not endorse President Obama's stimulus measure back in February. In fact, Crist did attend a rally with the president during which he hailed the measure as one that will "reignit[e] the economy."
"Charlie Crist has repeatedly joined with big government liberals on major economic issues facing America today, from taxes to spending to cap-and-trade," Chocola said. "He represents the wrong direction for our economy and our nation."
The endorsement comes weeks after The Club spent upwards of $1 million in a special New York congressional election on behalf of a third-party conservative over the Republican Party-backed candidate. When the Democrat ultimately won what had been a longtime reliably Republican district, those conservatives faced fire from some in the GOP for language that seemed to push moderates away.
WASHINGTON (CNN) –The conservative Club for Growth is spending another $300,000 on a new ad attacking the Democratic and Republican candidates in the race to fill the congressional seat vacated by New York Rep. John Hughes.
The group, which is backing third-party candidate Doug Hoffman, calls Republican Dede Scozzafava and Democrat Bill Owens "two liberals" in a new television spot set to hit airwaves in parts of New York's 23rd district on Tuesday.
"Tired of choosing between two liberals for Congress?" a narrator asks in the ad, before calling Hoffman a "conservative Republican" and the "common sense choice."
The group has now spent more than half a million dollars in less than a month on ads that attack both Scozzafava and Owens.
The special election to fill McHugh's seat will be held November 3.