NRSC also wants to avoid more Todd Akins

Akin's "legitimate rape" comments and others like it "infected all the rest of the campaigns," the NRSC says

Published March 5, 2013 2:13PM (EST)

Though Karl Rove has been getting the brunt of the backlash over his hopes to crush Todd Akin-like candidates in primary races, the NRSC is gearing up for a similar purpose. As Roll Call reports, the  National Republican Senatorial Committee is working to avoid more "Todd Akin moments" in the next election cycle:

During the past two cycles, flawed candidates such as Akin, the former Missouri congressman who lost a targeted Senate race, helped derail the GOP’s hopes of winning a Senate majority. Costly primaries produced ineffective general-election nominees, costing the NRSC five otherwise-winnable races since 2010.

While candidate control is often beyond the NRSC’s abilities, the committee will ultimately be judged on whether the party can avoid such troubles and pick up the six seats needed for a majority in 2014.

“The campaigns that jumped off message not only infected themselves, they infected all the rest of the campaigns,” Rob Collins, the new executive director of the NRSC, told Roll Call. “So in this age of fractured but continuous, three-dimensional communication, we have to constantly plan for that and train for that and build for that.”

The NRSC had something of a love-hate relationship with Akin during his senatorial campaign in Missouri. Shortly after Akin made the comments about "legitimate rape," NRSC Chair John Cornyn, R-Texas, insisted to the Kentucky Courier-Journal that Akin was on his own: "I just think that this is not a winnable race.” Cornyn also told the Hill in September: “We’re done." But according to records released in December, in the final days of the campaign the NRSC quietly sent Akin $760,000, which went toward a big ad buy in Missouri.

Meanwhile, conservatives and Tea Party groups continue to attack Karl Rove for his initiative to stop candidates like Todd Akin from making it through to the general election. In the next cycle, Rove's Super PAC American Crossroads is looking to target potential candidates like Steve King in Iowa, who has an extensive track record of making inflammatory comments about everyone from gays and lesbians to illegal immigrants. He even sided with Akin that women don't often get pregnant from rape.

The backlash over Rove's Conservative Victory Project is reflective of the larger split in the Republican party, first in assessing 2012's losses and then in figuring out a way forward. Politico breaks it down:

Each week brings a new diagnosis of the party’s woes. Karl Rove says it’s candidate quality. Mitt Romney chief strategist Stuart Stevens argues Democrats have won over minority voters through government programs like Obamacare. Some Bush White House vets say it’s the GOP’s trouble understanding how to approach a changing electorate. Techy conservatives blame the party’s inferior social media presence and outdated voter targeting and data-mining.

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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2012 Elections Conservative Victory Project Karl Rove Nrsc Tea Party Todd Akin