The Other McCain

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Paranoid Theory: ‘Karl Rove Was Out Raising Money to Keep Santorum Alive’

Posted on | November 15, 2012 | 53 Comments

James Yanke at Reaganite Republican links to an article at Business Insider in which Grace Wyler gives credence to a paranoid theory offered by evangelical leader David Lane:

Karl stepped on Rick Perry and then Newt Gingrich every chance he got — albeit with deceit and sophistication — and elevated Mitt Romney at strategic, crucial points along their way to the Republican nomination — Rove’s candidate.
As an example of how sophisticated Rove is…Karl Rove was out raising money to keep Santorum alive until they could kill Newt — Santorum basically ran for Governor of Iowa in 2011, visiting all 99 counties; Santorum, out of Iowa, had no organization, no money and no chance in 2012 to be the Republican nominee; he was only a stalking horse for Mitt Romney — Rove kept Santorum alive until he could kill Rick Perry first, and then Newt Gingrich.
It’s instructive to note that Santorum placed 3rd in the South Carolina Presidential Primary the third week of January, and placed 3rd again the next week in Florida — yet Rove [by encouraging GOP donors to donate Santorum] was able to parlay two third place finishes into a $1M shot of money to keep Santorum alive…this is political gamesmanship on a whole other level, plus access to unlimited money.

This is insane in so many ways I don’t even know where to begin. It is obviously false to claim that Karl Rove raised a dime for Rick Santorum’s campaign. Nearly all of Santorum’s post-Iowa fundraising surge was in the form of online contributions from small donors.

So why on earth would David Lane say such a thing? In February, after Santorum won the trifecta — Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri — his underdog campaign caught the attenton of Annette Simmons, wife of Texas billionaire Harold Clark Simmons. Mrs. Simmons is a devout Christian who doesn’t pay much attention to politics, but news reports about Santorum’s strong Christian values appealed to her. So she told her husband that she was thinking about making a donation to Santorum. The Wall Street Journal reported March 23:

Mr. Simmons wondered about the prospects of the former Pennsylvania senator. He called his personal political muse, Republican strategist Karl Rove.
“Is he worth investing into his super PAC?” Mr. Simmons asked. He rose from his leather recliner in the den and stood at a bay window overlooking swans gliding on a lake encircled by 17,000 tulips. “Does he have a chance?”
“Yes, I wouldn’t count him out,” Mr. Rove said. Mr. Simmons’s wife, Annette, who was keen on Mr. Santorum, promptly donated $1 million to his super PAC, cash badly needed for an ad blitz ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries.

Keep in mind what the situation was in February: Michelle Bachmann had quit after Iowa, Perry quit two days before the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary, and Gingrich had gotten stomped by Romney in both Florida and Nevada. Then came Feb. 8, when Santorum won all three contests, while Gingrich placed third in Colorado and fourth (behind Ron Paul) in Minnesota (Newt didn’t make the ballot in Missouri).

So if any well-informed person were asked, “Does Santorum have a chance?” the obvious answer would be, “Yes, I wouldn’t count him out.” Yet this is twisted by David Lane — who backed Gingrich from start to finish — into a conspiratorial plot. Furthermore, the idea that Perry and Gingrich lost because Rove “stepped on [them] every chance he got” is blatantly counterfactual:

  • Perry self-destructed in two debates in Florida (Tampa Sept. 12, Orlando Sept. 22), and was never a viable contender thereafter. Whatever prospects there might have been for resurrecting the Texas governor’s campaign ended at the Nov. 9 debate in Michigan, when Perry forgot how to count to three: “Oops.” By all normal logic, Perry should have quit after his fifth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses, but instead let himself be persuaded to continue on to South Carolina, only to end up quitting the Thursday before the Saturday primary and endorsing Gingrich.
  • Gingrich was buried in Iowa by a blitz of Romney attack ads, recovered to win South Carolina, then buried against in Florida. As I have extensively documented, Gingrich’s campaign suffered from an unsustainable “burn rate.” Gingrich’s campaign went into the red in late January due to an ill-fated decision to attempt to fight Romney in the expensive Florida TV market and never recovered its financial balance. Newt reportedly spent the days before the Nevada primary desperately ”dialing for dollars” (and thereby missed a scheduled appearance with the state’s popular Gov. Brian Sandoval) because of the campaign’s money troubles.

So, on the basis of a single datum — the Harold Simmons call to Karl Rove in February — David Lane has ginned up a conspiracy theory that falsely portrays Rick Santorum as a Rove-controlled stalking horse for the Romney campaign. Paranoia is not an ideology.

UPDATE: It is necessary, in order to understand how absurdly misguided David Lane’s paranoid theory is, to look at the vote totals in the three GOP contests that took place on Feb. 8:

MISSOURI PRIMARY:
RICK SANTORUM …. 55%
MITT ROMNEY ……… 25%
RON PAUL …………….. 12%

COLORADO CAUCUSES:
RICK SANTORUM …. 40%
MITT ROMNEY ……… 35%
NEWT GINGRICH …. 13%
RON PAUL …………….. 12%

MINNESOTA CAUCUSES:
RICK SANTORUM …. 45%
RON PAUL …………….. 27%
MITT ROMNEY ……… 17%
NEWT GINGRICH …. 11%

No intelligent person could look at those results and say that, as of Feb. 9, Newt Gingrich was better positioned than Rick Santorum to defeat Romney, and yet this is what David Lane wants you to believe: That somehow, as a result of Karl Rove’s Machiavellian scheming, Newt got cheated out of the nomination because Annette Simmons gave a million dollars to Santorum’s Super PAC in February.

UPDATE: Linked by Becca J. Lowerthanks!

 


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Comments

  • McGehee

    Paranoia is not an ideology.

    Neither are skin color or ethnic origin, but in this day of identity-group politics any identity will do. Why do you hate Paranoid-Americans!?

  • pabarge

    You know what magicians say: watch both hands. That goes for Rove as well as Lane. Watch both hands because one of them is engaged in misdirection.

    Watch both hands.

  • Dai Alanye

    Let’s add this: had Gingrich dropped out after the Santorum threesome, Rick would probably have gone from strength to strength, ending up with the nomination. It’s not Santorum who prevented Gingrich from taking Romney but Gingrich whose ego kept him running when all hope was lost who kept Santorum from beating Romney.

  • robertstacymccain

    It’s also possible to believe that neither Newt nor Santorum ever stood a realistic chance of beating Romney. However, the one explanation that is clearly counterfactual is Lane’s claim that somehow Santorum’s success came at Newt’s expense (never mind the Rove conspiracy theory).

  • http://twitter.com/BeccaJLower Becca Lower

    Does anyone else find it odd that an evangelical “kingmaker” would support Gingrich, not Santorum? There was certainly a great deal of grumbling among the (mainly social con) Santorum grassroots about Gingrich’s dicey (and disqualifying) personal baggage.

    I wonder what Steve Deace thinks…

  • dimonddragon

    It’s all about timing, Robert. At key points and strategically specific intervals, when it appeared that one of the candidates was getting some traction, Rove et al came to the rescue of the other candidates by either focusing ad dollars away from them or by giving them a “press boost” making it appear that Romney saw that candidate as an equal (and thus elevating their stature).

    Gingrich COULD have won Florida but for Rove manipulating the press to train it’s guns on Gingrich regarding his past non-pro-life stances and to forgo attacking Santorum. That breathing room allowed Santorum to play the “pro-life” nature of his candidacy up and to divide the Conservative electorate, instead of them coalescing behind one “anti-Romney” candidate.

    By the time Santorum had traction, Rove turned around and started saying nice things about Gingrich being a serious candidate who had big ideas that should be listened to.

    So money? No. Manipulating the press? Oh yes.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Stacy hates them because they’re out to get him.

  • Billy G

    RSM’s still out there stumpin’ for his man.
    We all have out blind spots.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    The other unbelievable claim is that after Rove’s string of electoral disasters and ludicrous positions this year we should still believe he’s capable of acting that intelligently. Hopefully someone will find him in bed with Dick Morris one night and clean up the punditburo at least that much.

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  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    And as the giants advised Odin, watch with both eyes.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    Who’ll lay odds on Newt becoming the new Ron Paul, a superannuated nonstarter with a cult following determined to play the spoiler?

  • PhillyCon

    I saw this quoted in a Right Scoop post … I knew the author David Lane had an agenda. It doesn’t make any sense … b/c Santorum won many other primaries that were not Iowa. I didn’t take issue with it, b/c the author was making it about Rove, but this unfortunate nugget was inserted in the piece.

    http://www.therightscoop.com/gop-needs-to-leave-bush-era-behind-including-and-especially-karl-rove/

  • PhillyCon

    This was a common belief on some blogs … that Santorum was a stalking horse for Romney. No joke.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    Just so – Lane ascribes the same Evil Genius Bent On World Domination status to Rove that he was accorded by the Left after 2000-02-04. It was ridiculous then and is ridiculous now.

    Many factors go into winning and losing political campaigns, and consultants and strategists are just one of them, and at the margins. The magical powers of the Atwaters, Carvilles, Begalas, Roves, Trippis, Axelrods, and Plouffes are just media myths – more horse-race inside baseball to avoid discussing actual issues.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    Utter nonsense.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    He’s already got Callista.

    Oh, you said “cult” – I really need to wear my glasses for this stuff.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    Sure, Santorum gave up a $1 million per year job and tore his kids away from their friends to plant his family in Bumfluke, Iowa for a year because he wanted to help Rove help Romney – just because he loved those guys so much.

    That kind of stupidity could only come from supporters of the back-stabbing egotistic “professor” who couldn’t even win tenure at Georgia Western after being there eight years.

  • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

    Crazy. Rick Santorum ran primarily because he wanted to save his disabled daughter and others like her from Obamacare. He would have gladly sat the election out if he thought the GOP were going to nominate a candidate who would be able to defeat Obama, particularly on the issue of healthcare. If you’ll recall, the establishment was backing the harbinger (via Massachusetts) of Obamacare — Mitt Romney.

  • http://twitter.com/BeccaJLower Becca Lower

    While I agree with most of what you said, Richard, the visual was REALLY unnecessary… ;)

  • http://twitter.com/BeccaJLower Becca Lower

    Agreed. Gingrich’s candidacy headed downhill as soon as the SuperPAC supporting him released the anti-Bain “film”. Anyone so myopic that he can’t see that should be pitied.

  • PhillyCon

    I know … its crazy… he did the stalking routine to be in debt too. But those “Noot” supporters seriously think he’s the second coming … so, these kind of paranoid theories (as RSM rightly states) is no shock. They believe it would have been different he was the nominee.

  • dimonddragon

    No. That is not the assertion. The assertion is that Rove conveniently USED various candidates at various strategic times in order to stop the momentum of the ascending “anti-Romney” at that moment. It was a form of “operation chaos” used by the Establishment GOP against the Conservatives.

  • dimonddragon

    You’re free to think so.

    Please explain to me then exactly how, as one “anti-Romney” was ascending, suddenly the “down and out” anti-Romney ‘magically’ started having nice things said about him or her and suddenly became a “viable candidate” again.

    It’s a form of playing both sides against the middle. In this instance, it was the Santorum supporters vs the Gingrich so that neither one of them would coalesce the support of the “anti-Romney” movement sufficiently to become a threat to Romney, whom the GOPE wanted to back.

  • dimonddragon

    FLAG! There’s debate and then there’s just being RUDE through personal attacks.

  • dimonddragon

    Unlikely. I don’t think that Gingrich will run again. He would be almost 74 by the time he would take office, and I’m not sure he wants to do a big campaign again just from the wear and tear.

  • Dai Alanye

    Paranoia hardly strikes me as a winning strategy, but if it works for you….

    In fact, Gingrich lost Florida when Wolfgang Amadeus von Blitzer refused to do a John King to Gingrich’s bullying during the debate.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    Absurd. Santorum was running in CA, I posted the videos, before Romney even committed. Unless, of course The Conspiracy to Block Newt goes back to before Newt even declared either.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    I don’t pick on Callista because I’m embarrassed at how long it took me to realize she wasn’t the one on Ally McBeal…

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    I thought that was Twiggy.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    I ignored that part of Jen’s post because I don’t need supporting evidence to agree that Rove is a nasty piece of work. But also, I think Stacy might be overstating the emphasis just a bit (sorry Stacy). I tried to find more about Lane’s “accusation” and it doesn’t seem to rise to Santorum being at all connected to anything Rovian. It’s more like Rove just being a dick, as usual.

    I certainly don’t see any hint that Santorum would have stooped to such nonsense, anyway. Once you take a bite of that particular apple, you know you aren’t gonna get away without paying a big price. Santorum doesn’t strike me as dumb enough to try it.

    Lane seems to be claiming more that Rove did stuff behind the scenes to encourage folks to send money to Santorum. It’s pretty much an unprovable assertion. It reminds me of the folks blaming the former McCain campaign people working to help Romney, who supposedly are behind a lot of the bad press circulating about Palin (back when she was deciding whether to run or not). I never saw any incontrovertable proof of that. But it sounds good to make such assertions. (At least that’s what people who traffic in unsupported assertions seem to think.)

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    The problem with Rove is that he had a lot of big donors behind his efforts to support Romney, and he was willing to use those powers in a way that needlessly damaged candidates that weren’t a threat to Romney’s election, but were a threat to Rove’s anti-Tea Party positioning.

    He helped shunt conservatives aside. Forget the smoke-filled, back room crap. Just look at what he said and did out in the open. That’s all you need to know to want him out of the way.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    I may be wrong, but I remember Santorum as being the first to declare, unofficially.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    Because you are a blithering idiot, that’s why. Provide PROOF your stupid and preposterous allegations or STFU, or get used to being called out as a fool.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    Who said I was “debating,” moron?

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    Yeah, that and the fact he SUCKS as a candidate, and too many conservatives remember what a lying, backstabbing SOB he was as Speaker.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    Assertions of shocking facts without any evidence are just the random rants of jackasses.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    EXCEPT that the overwhelming majority of Romney’s money came from his own national fundraising circle, not the GOP bundlers, until AFTER Romney had effectively sewed up the nomination. Rove’s big donors gave to Rove’s own PAC, which didn’t support Romney either, until after he clinched.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    Rove’s money and activities may have been separate from Romney’s I don’t know or care. It’s what Rove did with his PAC, and influence as a commentator and “adviser” and as a paid consultant that makes it clear we need to diminish his role in the next election.

  • PhillyCon

    I ignored it as well, b/c the piece wasn’t about the conspiracy theory. However, when she is making a point, she may want to edit parts that might distract from her overall thesis. It would create tangential discussions in the threads … JMO.

  • EsausMessage

    Oh Lord! Save me! Too much inside baseball, too little time.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    It was definitely a bit overlong.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Help!!! I can’t that visual out of my head!

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Now, calm down, Adj: he wasn’t ‘blithering’, he was babbling.

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  • dimonddragon

    And assholes like you who just like to demean without actually debating show that you’re an asshole who can’t win in the arena of ideas, because you’re not even willing to discuss the possibility.

  • dimonddragon

    If you’re going to be an asshole, I’m going to call you an asshole.

    Debate the ideas. Attacking the person is a sign of a weak mind.

  • dimonddragon

    You’re not debating. That’s the point. You’re an asshole who CAN’T debate, because you’re neither intelligent nor informed sufficiently to debate.

  • dimonddragon

    And even as a lying, backstabbing SOB, he’s still clean your clock in even the smallest debate, because you have neither ideas nor brains. Just a fascination with demeaning others who are your betters, because you can’t compete with them and feel inferior.

  • dimonddragon

    If you’re going to be an asshole, I’m going to call you out on it for being so. You haven’t responded to my assertion that the establishment rode to the rescue of the falling “anti-Romney.” I’ll take your UTTER SILENCE on the issue as an admission that you have no retort.

    It’s really simple. As soon as there was an ascendent “Anti-Romney” the GOP establishment, through their preferred mouthpieces in the Main Stream Morons, would go out and start plugging the falling “anti-Romney” whom would then be buoyed, leading to money and or support from that falling “anti-Romney” instead of consolidation around the Ascendent “Anti-Romney.”

    If this were NOT so, Iowa should have polished off Gingrich in a 3rd place finish. But no. He was saved by good press coverage keeping him in South Carolina. As soon as Gingrich decisively WON South Carolina (largely due to his debate performance), Romney trained his guns fully onto Gingrich and fully relented from Santorum, and some in the GOPE started plugging Santorum. Those of us watching at the time were rather surprised at this move (and even commented on it at the time), but we weren’t seeing the whole scene.