Rove vs. The Kochs vs. Restore Our Future

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If Mitt Romney wins, the $1 billion conservative super PACs raised this election will be seen as money well spent. If he loses, there will be a fight among the biggest groups over which one made the most effective ads and who gets to be the "shadow boss" of the Republican Party. As Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel reports, the competition is between the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity, Karl Rove's American Crossroads, and Restore Our Future, which was founded by Romney allies. Rove has been talking smack about the other two. "They’re positioning themselves to claim credit for successes, dodge blame for failures and prove that they’re not one-trick ponies that can only do narrowly targeted advertising," he writes.

"Rove at times also has questioned Restore Our Future in conversations with donors, suggesting for instance that the group may be squandering cash on high-fundraising fees," Vogel reports. In the first half of 2012, the group paid $3 million in fundraising fees to a company associated with former Romney aide Steven C. Roche, The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins and Mark Maremont reported in May. Pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA outraised Restore Our Future for the first time in September. The pro-Romney group had been airing ads in only a few states it announced Thursday a big ad buy in nine states. But some of the states it had been spending in were not competitive for Romney, like Pennsylvania and Michigan.

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The spat between Rove and the Kochs goes back to 2011, when their groups ran ads on opposite sides of the debt ceiling debate in 2011. It makes you wonder who the unnamed rival super PAC operative was in a September BuzzFeed story, which reported:

The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity has drawn particular grumbling for ads whose goal, critics say, is more about ideology than victory in November, its daily message determined, one rival SuperPAC operative jabbed, by "whatever the Koch brothers had for breakfast."

You can see where that feeling might come from in an Americans for Prosperity ad released October 5 called "The Dinner Table" (GIF at left). There's no dialogue, just an unhappy family silently picking at their dinner, and then text that says, "12.1 million Americans unemployed. It's time to try something different." I think the message is supposed to be that families are unhappy with the economy, which has forced them to eat iceberg lettuce.

If Romney wins, Restore Our Future leaders have a good shot at "uniquely positioned to replace Rove as the shadow party boss," Vogel reports. If not, chaos!

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.