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Inside the Beltway: Seeking a ground game

- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2013

The din continues. Fierce tea party loyalists and traditional conservatives continue to squawk about Karl Rove and "establishment Republicans," convinced that the faction will compromise GOP chances in upcoming elections. Outspoken tea partyers say their grass-roots sensibility is the key to supporting and electing viable candidates.

Mr. Rove, adviser to the uber-fundraising American Crossroads super PAC and its newly launched the Conservative Victory Project, claims that he, too, seeks electable winners, and will continue to do so. The arguments are reaching critical mass, even as gleeful liberals celebrate on the sidelines, convinced that there's internal discord in the Grand Old Party and that a third party could come bubbling up from the mess, and thus split the vote in 2014 and 2016.

Is the GOP fractured? Not likely. These are the predictable growing pains and sword rattling of the Republican quest to reorganize itself and forge a new identity. They've got, oh, three months to reach a compromise to match the formidable Democratic outreach machine already up and running for the midterms next year. Mr. Rove, meanwhile, has defended his organization on Fox News and elsewhere in the past 24 hours. But tea party stalwarts are still not buying it.

"Rove mentioned that they raised and spent over $300 million. While this is true, when you consider their track record, they wasted the money. Perhaps it is time for Rove's donors to donate to organizations who can produce a ground game to compete with the left," says Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, citing tea party victories in the 2010 midterms, in the 2012 Wisconsin recall, and in the "unwinnable" Washington state Senate, now run by a Republican conference.

"That happened because of the tea party ground game. Rather than spend hundreds of millions of dollars on useless TV ads that only tear down the opponent, in Washington we articulated a conservative message that draws voters to our cause," Ms. Martin declares. "That's what conservatives have always been about, winning hearts and minds with a message of personal freedom, fiscal responsibility and limited government."

IN THE BREW

And now there's another new PAC out of all this. The aforementioned Patriots have launched Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, a political action committee seeking modest donations from concerned citizens, and "dedicated to supporting those candidates who will sincerely work to rein in out-of-control government and to oppose those candidates who will not. We do not discriminate between political parties."

Founder Jenny Beth Martin explains, "The tea party movement must hold every politician who supports higher taxes and even higher spending accountable, regardless of their political party. If that means we have to defeat some of these big-government politicians in primaries, so be it."

BUMPER PATROL

"Madness takes a heavy toll. Please have exact change ready."

(Bumper sticker spotted in Washington, D.C.)

GIPPER PEAK

The Nevada Board of Geographic Names has the paperwork. Determined organizers from the Mount Reagan Project have filed the forms asking the state agency to officially dedicate 4,052-foot Frenchman Mountain -- located between the Las Vegas valley to the west and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the east -- as "Mount Reagan." The group has organized a national petition and will present the signatures to the state of Nevada in three months.

"Ronald Reagan led America forward to defeat the threats to our prosperity of high taxes, inflation and recession at home and a surging Soviet empire abroad," says Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, but also chairman of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, the parent organization of the project.

"Reagan left America stronger, freer and safer than the day he became president. Adding his name to the shortlist of great American presidents who have mountains named after them is an honor richly deserved," Mr. Norquist says.

A dozen former American presidents have U.S. peaks named after them; the paperwork, incidentally, was filed on Feb. 6, which would have been the president's 102nd birthday. See their efforts here: www.MountReaganProject.com

THE LIBERTARIAN VOICE

Former Libertarian presidential hopeful Gary E. Johnson is not done yet. As a panacea against President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday, Mr. Johnson is going online with his fans for a freewheeling session he calls "Ask Me Anything." The 60-minute event will be staged through the Reddit.com news site at 6 p.m. EST.

The former New Mexico governor staged a tenacious bid for the White House in 2012 as a third-party candidate, garnering 1 percent of the vote. He now calls his supporters "1 Percenters" and has taken a clear position in the gun-control debate.

"President Obama is again reacting by trying to make government bigger and freedom smaller. Issuing a raft of executive orders, attempting to legislate around the Second Amendment, and proposing new and more intrusive ways to track us in our daily lives will not make us -- or our kids -- safer. It will only make us less free," Mr. Johnson says.

POLL DU JOUR

• 92 percent of U.S. voters support background checks for gun buyers; 89 percent of Republicans and 96 percent of Democrats agree.

• 56 percent of voters overall support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons; 39 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats agree.

• 52 percent overall support stricter gun-control laws in the U.S.; 26 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of Democrats agree.

• 46 percent say the National Rifle Association best reflects their personal views on guns; 78 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

• 43 percent say President Obama represents their views; 8 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats agree.

• 37 percent overall say they would be more likely to vote for a local lawmaker who supported a ban on assault weapons; 19 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Quinnipiac University poll of 1,722 registered U.S. voters conducted Jan. 30 to Feb. 4.

• Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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