Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) gave a strong defense of GOP strategist Karl Rove's Conservative Victory Project in a recent interview, arguing that the super PAC offshoot, designed to quash conservative Senate candidates who might be too extreme to win general elections, was sensible.
Speaking with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Rubio was asked if he thought Rove's endeavor was a "good idea."
"Yes," Rubio responded, going on to explain that Rove and his American Crossroads super PAC had been some of his biggest supporters during his rapid rise and eventual victory in his 2010 Senate race.
Rubio also gave credit to the Tea Party supporters that backed him, saying that both Rove's group and conservative activists "have a place in American politics."
Rove's new election effort has quickly highlighted rifts in the GOP's foundation. Tea Party activists have largely regarded it as a direct affront to their broader goal of putting forth highly conservative candidates. While Rove has pointed to Senate candidates such as Missouri's Todd Akin and Indiana's Richard Mourdock -- both of whose campaigns suffered irreversible damage after offensive comments about rape -- as a justification for his project, Tea Party activists have countered, arguing that Rove's new push would have clipped the wings of successful candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rubio before they could take off.
Rove has tried to push back against the broader claim that his mission stands in opposition to the Tea Party's. In an interview with Fox News last week, Rove listed large contributions that American Crossroads had made in support of Tea Party-backed candidates, both winning and losing. Much of that money was pumped into the races after GOP establishment favorites had been defeated in primaries, however, leaving Rove with only one Republican choice.
In his interview with CBN, Rubio acknowledged the Tea Party's fears, but ultimately defended Rove's project.
"I think the concern that people have is that people from Washington are going to come in and decide ‘so and so’ is unelectable, somebody else is more electable, we have to go with them. And I think that’s a valid concern," he said. "There have been some candidates that have been nominated that have not done well in the general election stage. Perhaps we need to do a better job working through that to ensure that doesn’t happen in the future. But I also think we have to be very careful that we’re not discouraging grassroots-type candidates from running, because often times they get elected and do a pretty good job."