On Tuesday, there was the first clue of the approach the network is taking when its main financial arm, Freedom Partners, praised four likely candidates for their opposition to the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, a top target of conservatives.
Freedom Partners president Marc Short singled out former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for backing the phase-out of the bank, a federal entity that provides loans to U.S. companies doing business overseas. In a statement, Short called their position “a clear sign that opposition to the bank extends from the grassroots all the way to some of the most prominent figures in national politics.”
“Freedom Partners applauds their principled stance against cronyism and corporate welfare,” he added. “This is exactly the kind of leadership our country needs.”
Short’s rare commentary suggests that, at this point, the Kochs and their fellow donors plan to elevate a group of favored candidates, rare than pick just one.
Not included on the list was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who expressed support for eliminating the bank at a recent meeting of top donors to the conservative group Club for Growth, but only after acknowledging arguments in support of it. Still, Walker is popular among some donors in the network, and made a favorable impression when he spoke at a private Freedom Partners conclave in Rancho Mirage, Ca., in January. Rubio, Cruz and Paul also attended the weekend retreat. Bush was invited, but was unable to attend.