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Inside the Beltway: The war on Rove escalates

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A bristling group of 25 traditional conservatives are out to protect one of their own in a new push against the "establishment Republicans" of Karl Rove's American Crossroads. The coalition has sent a letter of protest to Steven Law, president of the super-duper PAC, following an interview with the organization's spokesman that aired Wednesday on a talk radio station in the nation's capital:

"We cannot and will not abide the unjust, personal broadside your aide Jonathan Collegio leveled against a man whose family has dedicated itself to advancing the cause of liberty for over half a century. This morning Mr. Collegio attacked L. Brent Bozell III and labeled him as a 'hater' twice in an interview," notes the group, which includes radio host Mark Levin, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Citizens United President David Bossie, Reagan historian Craig Shirley, conservative maven Richard Viguerie, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin and Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy.

Mr. Bozell, incidentally, is the founder of the Media Research Center. The group now suggests that Mr. Law fire Mr. Collegio, who Tuesday told Inside the Beltway that American Crossroads supports tea party candidates and abides by a tenet of the late William F. Buckley, who maintained that the most viable candidate is the one who can actually win an election.

"Mr. Bozell is what we call in our movement a 'legacy.' He has devoted his life to the cause of American conservatism as did his father, Brent Bozell II, who wrote 'Conscience of a Conservative' for Barry Goldwater. Maybe you've heard of Brent's uncle, Bill Buckley, whose words you misquote and twist as the basis for your organization enough to falsely suggest you know something about him," the letter writers say.

"American Crossroads and the so-called Conservative Victory Project have already been severely marginalized. The sheer audacity of political consultants maligning a beloved and critically important player in American history is simply a bridge too far," the group concludes. "You obviously mean to have a war with conservatives and the tea party. Let it start here."

'REPUBLICAN DIVERSITY'

"Big tent" thinking in the GOP has turned ambitious and feisty. The Republican State Leadership Committee has launched the Future Majority Caucus to support women, blacks and Americans of Hispanic and Asian descent running for office on the state level, "to more closely reflect the diversity of our nation."

Running it all: that would be Ed Gillespie, who has returned to lead the committee itself after serving as senior adviser for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Mr. Gillespie has long championed the idea of upping the GOP's appeal to minority voters, and now has plenty of help. The newly formed caucus will be led by Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada. Also on board: Florida state Reps. Jose Felix Diaz and Jose R. Oliva, plus eight other local lawmakers of Hispanic descent from a half-dozen states.

It jump-starts a vital Republican push into traditional Democratic demographics. Two years ago, Mr. Gillespie founded the Future Majority Project as "a forward-thinking outreach initiative to the Hispanic community intended to proactively grow the Republican family." Also in that mix: Right Women Right Now, an effort to support Republican women hopefuls in state races. And the money? In 2012, the committee contributed $5 million to support Hispanic and female candidates.

'UNCOMMON VALOR'

CNN correspondent Jake Tapper debuts the documentary "An American Hero: The Uncommon Valor of Clint Romesha" on Thursday night, chronicling the courage of former U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, who led a battle against perilous odds when Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan was attacked Oct. 3, 2009. President Obama will award the soldier the Medal of Honor on Monday for his actions during the attack on 50 American, 20 Afghan and two Latvian soldiers by an force of some 300 enemy troops.

"The Afghan troops reportedly quickly abandoned their posts, leaving the Americans and Latvians to fight alone. During the first three hours of the battle, mortars hit the combat outpost every 15 seconds," noted an account in the Army Times. " Romesha and his fellow soldiers immediately fought back — and continued to fight for hours."

The documentary airs at 10 p.m. on CNN. Mr. Tapper, who joined CNN last month after a nine-year stint with ABC News, will also host a one-hour weekday program that premieres in March.

CULTURAL MOMENT

The world's largest commercial Halloween haunted house is going the way of every smart business and expanding its parameters — right into Valentine's Day, for a night replete "with candlelight, roses and zombies." The Cutting Edge Haunted House — situated in an old meat packing factory in Fort Worth, Texas — presents "Twisted Love," a night of spine-tingling amour, apparently, where guests pay $25 to wander the halls by candlelight, "dodging jealous, lovelorn zombies and bloodthirsty ghouls bearing roses, chocolates and chainsaws," the official marketing material proclaims.

"Nothing says 'I love you' like a bloodcurdling scream," suggest the owners, who doubtless are eyeing other holidays for similar treatment.

POLL DU JOUR

• 52 percent of U.S. voters trust PBS; 27 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

• 41 percent of voters overall trust Fox News; 70 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats agree.

• 39 percent overall trust NBC News; 18 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats agree.

• 38 percent overall trust CNN; 17 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Democrats agree.

• 35 percent overall trust MSNBC; 12 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Democrats agree.

• 34 percent overall trust CBS News; 15 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats agree.

• 32 percent overall trust ABC News; 14 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Public Policy Polling survey of 800 registered U.S. voters conducted Jan. 31 to Feb. 3.

Backstage choruses and dramatic arias to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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