Karl Rove has a lot of explaining to do.
The hundreds of millions of dollars he raised from some of America’s richest people resulted in nothing more than an unprecedented amount of Election Day schadenfreude on the left, as his own Fox News colleagues had to convince him live on national television that he’d lost, badly.
Now, he has the unenviable job of reassuring his donor base so they’ll remain his donor base. His column in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal lays out his plans, learned from the failures of 2012 and his plan to emulate Howard Dean’s once-controversial strategy to create a Democratic majority.
“Republicans should also emulate the Democratic ‘50-state’ strategy,” he wrote, “by strengthening the ground game everywhere, not just in swing states.”
He goes on to say Republicans need to reframe their messages to appeal to the middle class and respond to attacks more effectively. “In a world of Twitter, YouTube and cable TV, the cliché that ‘if you’re responding, you’re losing’ is dead,” he wrote, in a tone similar to Democrats after 2004’s “swiftboating” of war hero John Kerry by Rove’s allies.
Rove also says Republicans need to do more to win Hispanics, millennials and women voters. Though the only way he presents as a means to do this is to not have Senate candidates like Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin, who make dumb comments about rape.
His one very practical suggestion is to hold conventions earlier since neither major party candidate will likely take public financing ever again. It was in the early summer, after Romney had won the nomination but hadn’t qualified to use his general election funds, that the Obama campaign unleashed a campaign to define him based on his record at Bain Capital.
In this one column, Rove reserved much of his usual bile for President Obama, whom he has lambasted since day one in the Wall Street Journal and on Fox News, while running his massive outside money campaign to restore Republicans to power. Ironically, though, Rove has in the past accused the president of running a “permanent campaign.”
At that time, ThinkProgress’ Zaid Jalani noted:
Former Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan wrote in his 2008 book What Happened that “Karl Rove did not create the excesses of the permanent campaign. Rather, the excesses of the permanent campaign created Karl Rove.”
Now that Rove’s own permanent campaign against the president has failed and he ‘s seeking to change the Republican Party’s ground game to more closely resemble what Dean built for 2008 and what the Tea Party replicated in 2010, the poetic justice is rich for The Nation’s Ari Berman, author of Herding Donkeys — which tells the story of the grassroots resurgence that brought Democrats back into power after the lows of the 2004 election.