Steve King: Karl Rove 'launched a crusade against me'
February 7th, 2013
02:35 PM ET
7 years ago

Steve King: Karl Rove 'launched a crusade against me'

(CNN) - Rep. Steve King hasn't even declared whether or not he will run for the U.S. Senate.

But on Thursday the Iowa Republican sent a plea to supporters charging veteran GOP strategist Karl Rove was marshalling forces against him in a preemptive effort to push him out of the race.

"Karl Rove and his army have launched a crusade against me," he wrote in an email published online by the Des Moines Register.

King's email brings to the fore intra-party GOP bickering. On one end, the GOP establishment represented in this instance by Rove. On the other, the tea party, represented here by King.

The congressman is known as a staunch conservative and was identified as a target of the Conservative Victory Project - a name at which some conservatives scoff - in a recent New York Times interview with the group's leader, Steven Law. The project is an offshoot of Rove's super PAC American Crossroads, which backed various Republican bids for federal office in the 2012 election.

But that election also saw GOP losses in races where a conservative candidate made statements on controversial topics, such as Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's race for the U.S. Senate which derailed after his comments on "legitimate rape."

"We're concerned about Steve King's Todd Akin problem," Law told the Times. "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."

Jonathan Collegio, the communications director for American Crossroads, underscored that point in an interview with CNN: "The idea is if we have a shot to win a seat we don't want a candidate like Christine O'Donnell or a Todd Akin to destroy that effort.

"We have an opportunity to take back the Senate and the House, or to hold the House, this cycle, and we want to make sure we are getting the best candidates available," he said.

King's email makes his point just as bluntly: he is not the problem.

"Nobody can bully me out of running for the U.S. Senate, not even Karl Rove and his hefty war chest," he wrote, according to the Register.

He told Radio Iowa later in the day that he has not yet made a decision, and when it does it will be based on "a thorough analysis." “It’s gotten closer each day, but I wouldn’t want to imply that the decision is made. It’s not,” he said.

He specifically cited in his email the Times report and described the Conservative Victory Project effort as "outlandish."

Law specifically cited King in the interview with the Times as an example of candidates they would target.

But asked by CNN if his group would continue going after him, Collegio demurred.

"This could be a test case. We don't know yet," he said. "It is too early to say what the field is going to look like in Iowa or any other state."

The Senate seat is being vacated as long-time Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin plans not to seek a sixth term in 2014. In his statement announcing the decisions, he said "I just feel it's somebody else's turn" to represent the state.

Several potential candidates are mulling a bid for the seat. The only announced candidate so far is Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.

- CNN's Gregory Wallace, Paul Steinhauser, Ashley Killough and Jim Acosta contributed to this report

Filed under: Iowa • Karl Rove • Steve King
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. stars

    Oh boy this is going to be fun to watch the gop go down in flames burn baby burn.

    February 7, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Name VA865

    They'll eat their OWN. ..

    February 7, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. harry Baxter

    Steve, you're so far out of the mainstream that even Karl Rove can support you. Apparently you weren't paying attention in November when the other Right-Wing zealots went down to defeat. You're next!

    February 7, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. yanni

    GOP is fighting for its political life. Pandering and demonizing opponent didn't work now they are turning on in each other. You cannot domesticate wild thing; the tea party is biting back.

    February 7, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  5. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    The teahage backmann and the teahage hillbilly blackburn and brewer com az and king are the kiss of death for the gop brain dead party ,see you in 2014. Losers !!!!!

    February 7, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  6. Baojiu

    Pass the popcorn please..... nom nom nom nom nom.

    February 7, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  7. kayla

    karl rove, mr hedgehog

    February 7, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. hypatia

    Can we see this done a la Smash? I really want to see King as Derek surrounded by Rove and his Super PAC in fuchsia heels singing "would I lie to you?"

    February 7, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. A Kickin` Donkey

    Mr. King it is called being held ACCOUNTABLE for your WORDS & DEEDS. I`m shocked that someone in the GOP is doing it. It is the only way back for the Republican Party.

    Memo to all the rightmost, Tea Party types in the GOP: the adults are back in charge. You can have Thanksgiving dinner but sit down @ the kiddie table and mind your manners!

    February 7, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    It would seem that all out civil war is erupting within the Republican Party. Rove is sending out ads (I'm gonna call star destroyers) in an attempt to knock off the rising stars of the Tea Party.

    February 7, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. John the Historian

    Let the civil war between the corporate elite, the Christian Right, and the military-industrial complex begin. When Marc Rubio ask for amnesty for Hispanics like their hero Reagan did, just watch the feather fly. Now that Puerto Rico is a new state with two new democratic senators and the demographic shift in the US will produce the new demographic and democratic USA. Gay marriage is coming. The war with Iran, a country of 80 million people is not coming. The two state solution is inevitable for Israel due to their demographic shift. Republicans going pro-choice because of the stocking up of abortion pills.Hope to hear from all the minister like Dobson, Robertson, and Graham who have no one to turn to when abortion rights and gay rights are advanced. Republicans please go the way of the Whig party.

    February 7, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. GonzoinHouston

    Heaven help me, I agree with Karl Rove about something. The TP"s make no secret that they intend to take over the GOP, and the mainstream GOP is finally starting to fight back. It's going to be a long and bloody fight, and in the short run the chief beneficiary will be the Democrats, but it's absolutely necessary if the GOP ever wants to regain a majority.

    February 7, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. Armand Winter

    “We gotta be careful about calling the thing,” Rove said, “I’d be very cautious about intruding in on this process.”

    Oh we wouldn't want to intrude on the process now would we?

    McConnell is in the hot seat as well and only Rove and Norquist can save him. McConnell is already obstructing claiming that closing tax loopholes is a tax hike.

    February 7, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    Steve, please, Rove is not a Christian.....he's engaging in a jihad against you.

    The Righties need to get their religious slurs right, sheesh.

    February 7, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. dtschuck

    One high-profile Republican strategist, who refused to be named in order to avoid inflaming the very segments of the party he wants to silence, said there is a deliberate effort by party leaders to “marginalize the cranks, haters and bigots — there’s a lot of underbrush that has to be cleaned out.”

    Question. If they get rid of the cranks, haters and bigots, will there be anyone left?

    February 7, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    OH NO!!!!! The victimization of old, white, conservative krischun nashun Teatroll men continues unabated!!! This is getting out of hand!!!! SOMEONE CALL THE POPE!!!!

    February 7, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  17. Al-NY,NY

    Sitting back in my comfortable chair......drink in hand.....snacks at the ready....watching the freak show that is the GOP destroy itself from the inside.....nothing better

    February 7, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. nothing new here

    Of course the establishment GOP is going to target people like King.
    Even mainstream Repubs are starting to resent the Tea Party/social conservative base.

    February 7, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Jim Hahn

    The GOP is turning elections into a destruction derby. This will be better than Survivor! May the best idiot win the primary. Your place at the center of the general election bonfire will be waiting.

    February 7, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  20. Boomer in Mo

    Rove created the monsters and now he wants to kill them. Pretty funny.

    February 7, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. Thomas

    Karl Rove " Elmer Fudd "

    February 7, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  22. Chris

    The saga continues.... "establishment, mainstream, elite, blue-blood, RINO, knuckle-dragging" Republicans vs. Tea Bagging "Conservatives".

    When Rove gets involves, you know he's posturing for the next election (in 2014), but the end goal is getting a Republican president, meaning he's got to lower the number of (or keep it from growing) so the next RNC is not another circus of sideshows.

    Big variable is Sarah Palin's not connected with Fox. She's running around with a big chip on shoulder and a need for attention. BUT I suspect she's got enough money, doesn't really care to work so hard, and doesn't care to get involved very much – otherwise, once separated from Fox, she'd have immediately sought to reclaim her position as Bagger Queen.

    February 7, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |