Just when you thought Karl Rove had taken back control of his own war on the Tea Party, outspoken Iowa Congressman Steve King sent a fundraising email to supporters today that, in very clear language, says Rove is trying to "bully" him out of running in 2014. "I’m under attack and I urgently need your help to fight back," the email begins. Referring to rumors that he would seek Senator Tom Harkin's seat in 2014, King digs in further: "I have not made a decision on this matter, but already Karl Rove and his army have launched a crusade against me."
The message comes less than a week after the New York Times reported that Rove, who represents an army of wealthy Republican donors via a network of conservative Super PACs, is seeking more influence in upcoming Senate primaries in order to avoid running gaffe-prone candidates (in the mold of Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock) against vulnerable Democrats. The Times pointed out that King was likely to be targeted, given his history of controversy-creating comments. (In one memorable incident, he referred to Capitol Hill janitors tasked with replacing incandescent light bulbs as "Nancy's Stasi troops" — a jab directed at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.)
The new Rove campaign, unsurprisingly, upset conservatives, and Rove struck back on Fox, but King — known for being outspoken to the point of thinking he can sway the entirely useless Iowa Straw Poll — is the most prominent possible candidate to call out Rove directly and in relation to a specific race.
The full email, via the Des Moines Register, is reproduced below:
Friend, I’m under attack and I urgently need your help to fight back.
Since U.S. Senator Tom Harkin announced he will not seek re-election in 2014, rumors have swirled about whether I will run for his seat. I have not made a decision on this matter, but already Karl Rove and his army have launched a crusade against me.
According to the president of American Crossroads (Rove’s Super PAC), they’re concerned about my discipline as a candidate and how I would fare in the general election: “All of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.” (New York Times, 2/2/13)
Please follow this link to donate $25, $50, $100 or more to my campaign right away and show Karl Rove that he cannot decide my political future.
I’m no stranger to outlandish attacks like this. They said I couldn’t win in 2012 — the entire political machine was against me — but I soundly defeated my opponent by 8 percentage points. So let me be clear. Nobody can bully me out of running for the U.S. Senate, not even Karl Rove and his hefty war chest.
At the end of the day, my decision will be based on what I believe is best for our state and our country, and whether or not I can count on your continued support. Your donation of $25, $50, $100 or more today will not only help me ward off Karl Rove’s baseless attacks, it will tell me you will continue to stand with me.
Thank you in advance for your continued support.
Member of Congress, Iowa
P.S. I haven’t made a decision on whether I’ll seek Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2014, but Karl Rove is already launching attacks against me. Will you help me fight back by making an immediate contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more? Thanks—Steve