- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A pair of political action committees organized by GOP strategist Karl Rove and strongly attacked by Democrats in last year’s midterm campaign said Tuesday they plan to raise $120 million ahead of the 2012 elections to help make President Obama a one-term leader and elect more Republicans to office.

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS told supporters they look to raise the massive sum to combat unions, which spent a combined $400 million to help Mr. Obama and Democratic candidates in 2008. With eyes on Wisconsin and Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s showdown there with Democrats over union rights, the conservative committees hope to attract donors and attention early.

“These resources will fund advocacy efforts to compete with the torrent of outside money from unions and left-leaning groups,” said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the effort. “Our first fundraising goal in 2010 was $52 million, but we ended up raising $71 million. There’s more time to raise money, there’s more at stake, and we have a proven brand now. We’ve spoken with all of our donors — they’re sticking with us, and most plan to come in at a significantly higher level than last time.”

The groups were formed last year with help from Mr. Rove, President George W. Bush’s longtime top political adviser, and two former Republican National Committee chairmen, Ed Gillespie and Mike Duncan, to supplement the Republican Party’s efforts during the midterm elections. The first major so-called “Super PAC” took in huge sums of money — largely from undisclosed donors — and, helped by a new Supreme Court ruling, became a dominant part of last election’s narrative.

The groups also announced on Tuesday a presidential action fund to help build get-out-the-vote and polling operations for the eventual nominee in 2012. Typically, the Republican National Committee handles such activities, but some donors worry that the central committee was driven so far in debt by former RNC Chairman Michael Steele that it will prove irrelevant in 2012.

American Crossroads, the political arm, is allowed to accept unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations explicitly to work for — or against — a candidate. It must disclose its donors.

Its partner organization, Crossroads GPS, is set up as a nonprofit corporation and keeps its donors private.

Democrats have criticized the arrangement, and Mr. Obama discouraged Democrats from forming their own groups in 2010.