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Karl Rove said on Fox News Tuesday night, "This is not Tea Party versus the establishment... I don’t want a fight." It looks like he's too late. Rove was defending his Conservative Victory Project -- a PAC aimed at making sure bad candidates don't make it through Republican primaries in Senate races -- against conservative critics who accused him of stabbing them in the back. "Some people think the best we can do is Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock — they’re wrong," 

The project was created by American Crossroads, and when its existence was revealed by The New York Times last weekend, conservatives were appalled. A RedState post called it "The Snakes in the GOP Grass." dubbed the effort "The Bush insider team that helped lead to the rise of Barack Obama." The most amusing reaction came from former Rep. Joe Walsh, who tweeted Tuesday, "I'm filing the paperwork to form a super PAC to support freedom-loving conservative alternatives to @KarlRove on FOX." Walsh was well known for making inflammatory comments, like belittling fun of his opponent, Tammy Duckworth, for talking about her military service too much.

On Fox, Rove insisted he was not trying to protect the establishment -- he just doesn't want to give away seats to Democrats. "Our job is not to protect incumbents, it’s to win races by stopping the practice of giving away some of the seats like we did in Missouri and Indiana this past year," Rove said. "And that may be telling the incumbent that if he’s going to be in the race, he shouldn’t expect any funds from Crossroads in the general election."

And in this not-a-fight-fight, Rove introduced a new twist to the old Republican in Name Only label that Tea Partiers have applied to Republicans they deem not conservative enough: Akin and his defenders are real Tea Partiers. Akin, he said, “was one of the biggest advocates of the earmarks in the Congress and for some reason or another we’ve got a bunch of Tea Party people for their own reason — Tea Party professionals — who are out there trying to suggest that he’s the best we could come up with.”

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