The new super PAC aimed at ensuring electable candidates emerge from Republican primaries isn't designed to further entrench establishment moderates, one of its founders said late Tuesday.
Karl Rove, the former top political adviser to President George W. Bush and co-founder of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, said his new group wasn't meant to protect incumbents, but instead to shepherd candidates with a shot at winning a general election through tough primaries.
He was responding to disparagement from some conservative activists, who regarded the group's creation as an attempt to stamp out tea party voices in the Republican Party.
"Our object is not to be for the establishment, it's to be for the most conservative candidate that can win," Rove said during an appearance on Fox News, where he is a paid contributor.
"This is not tea party versus establishment," he continued, pointing to Crossroads' past support for candidates like Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, both of whom were backed by national tea party groups in 2010.
As he does with other Crossroads groups, Rove will advise the new organization, which is called the "Conservative Victory Project." It will be led by Steven Law, the president of both American Crossroads and its advocacy sister Crossroads GPS.
On Tuesday, Rove pointed specifically to GOP Senate candidates last year in Missouri and Indiana as evidence for the need for his new group. Republicans Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock both made comments on rape and abortion that were seized by their rivals as outside the mainstream.
The new Crossroads group will attempt to "stop the practice of giving away some of the seats we did in Missouri and Indiana this past year," Rove said, explaining that could mean "telling the incumbent Republican if he's going to be in the race, he shouldn't expect any funds from Crossroads in the general election."
"If some people think the best we can do is Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, they're wrong," he continued. "We need to do better if we want to take over the United States Senate. We need to get better conservative candidates and win."
While Akin and Mourdock both lost their races last year, so did more mainstream GOP candidates such as Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana, Rep. Rick Berg of North Dakota, former Gov. Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin and former Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico.
Brent Bozell, the conservative activist and author, used that face in his scathing criticism of Rove's new group.
"The moderate GOP establishment record in Senate races last year was abysmal: every single one of their candidates lost," Bozell wrote. "We don't need a second Democrat Party in Washington."
"Instead of lectures, these moderates should stand aside and let the conservative movement lead the party back to prominence," he added.
Other right-wing activists echoed that sentiment, including Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin, who tweeted: "TPPatriots want to save USA. Karl Rove wants to line pockets-Don't Tread on Us! Tea Party bites back-never gives up!"