Mitt Romney is doing so poorly in the presidential campaign that those super PACs that are supposed to help drown President Obama’s reelection hopes in a tsunami of negative ads might not materialize. Worse still, Karl Rove and other masters of the universe might pour all that money into legislative races to usher in Republican control of the House AND the Senate. Ezra Klein calls this “Romney’s nightmare scenario.”
This has been Rove’s plan all along.
Nearly a year ago, I asked, “What’s Karl Rove really up to? The question was posed because Rove spent the pre-primary season talking down the leading contenders for the GOP nomination at the time. He smacked Texas Gov. Rick Perry for flirting with birthers. He outlined the numerous missteps and policy failings of Herman Cain. And he went after Romney for his poor handling of a collective-bargaining issue in Ohio.
Rove’s critiques were withering, tailor-made for the Obama reelection effort. So, if the goal is to win back the White House, why would Rove — especially Rove — take swipes at the party’s eventual nominee? “The subtle question the noise of the campaign doesn’t answer is why do he and others continually badmouth the field — not in grand broadsides but with subtle swipes with a very sharp knife? Death by a thousand cuts still leaves you dead,” a Republican operative told me at the time. Said person stood by that assessment when we spoke yesterday.
With taking the White House looking increasingly difficult, Rove’s goal of Republican legislative dominance comes into higher relief. Control of Congress brings control of the political agenda. But it also brings access to hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying contracts. The swirl of money, power and politics was clear when former governor Haley Barbour (R-Miss.), who took his own shots at the Republican field at the time, joined Rove’s American Crossroads’s fundraising team a year ago. That’s not terribly remarkable until you know that Barbour is a founder of the BGR Group, the powerful lobbying firm that he co-founded with Ed Rogers, who now writes “The Insiders” blog for The Post with Carter Eskew.
If Romney’s nightmare scenario happens, it won’t be about Mitt. It will be all about the Benjamins.