Rand Paul adviser signs on with American Crossroads

April 24, 2013

A top adviser to Ron Paul and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has signed on with the American Crossroads super PAC -- a move designed to increase input from conservative grass-roots supporters who have grown suspicious of the super PAC's activities.

Trygve Olson, who advised Rand Paul in his 2010 Senate campaign and then moved over to the elder Paul's 2012 presidential campaign, will serve as an adviser to American Crossroads on House and Senate races, Post Politics has learned. He will report to Crossroads political director Carl Forti.

“Crossroads has demonstrated their goal is to elect Republicans," Olson said. "I’m in a unique position in that I’ve worked with establishment and grass-roots candidates, thereby adding a perspective that’s important.”

Crossroads caused some friction with conservative groups earlier this year when it launched the Conservative Victory Project. The effort, which aims to nominate more electable Republican candidates, came in response to a series of GOP nominees who arguably cost the party several key Senate races.

Grass-roots groups saw the Conservative Victory Project as a thinly veiled effort to elect more moderate Republicans -- a theory Crossroads has rejected.

Doug Stafford, who serves as Rand Paul's chief of staff, said Olson's hiring is a step in the right direction for Crossroads.

"I think there were and probably still are conservatives concerned about what direction Crossroads is taking, and it’s good news that Trygve’s going to be involved," Stafford said. "He’ll be a good voice in that organization making sure the conservative point of view is listened to."

American Crossroads President and CEO Steven Law said in a statement that Olson is a key hire as the group aims to move beyond its focus on paid advertising and into the ground game.

"We have a lot of opportunities in 2014, but we're going to need to combine mass communications with grassroots energy to win more of these races next year," Law said.

Crossroads isn't the first GOP establishment group to reach out to the conservative wing of the party through its staffing in recent months.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee earlier this year announced Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) would serve as one of its two co-chairmen (both Rand Paul and Cruz upset heavily favored establishment candidates in primaries and have been among the most outspoken conservatives in the Senate), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hired a top adviser to both Pauls, Jesse Benton, as his campaign manager.

Olson is no newcomer to bridging the gap between Paul-world and the GOP establishment; he was dispatched by the NRSC to help Rand Paul's campaign after Paul won his 2010 primary.

He will continue to advise the Kentucky senator, who is considered a leading contender for the GOP's presidential nomination in 2016.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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