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Rove Nudging GOP Donors Toward Swift-Boat-Type Groups « The Washington Independent

Sen. John McCain’s campaign may have sent signals discouraging GOP donations to independent “issue-advocacy” groups this election season, but prominent Republican strategist Karl Rove is urging just the opposite, according to yesterday’s Washington Times:

Mr. Rove, the architect of President Bush’s election victories, has been telling Republican benefactors across the country that giving to official Republican Party fund-raising committees will not be enough this year, according to people familiar with his pitch over the past few months.

“They said Mr. Rove has regularly expressed concern that Democrat-leaning organizations such as MoveOn.org and labor unions could swamp the Republican Party’s money machine and overwhelm the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

“To counter that wave, Mr. Rove has been asking elite Republican fund-raisers to pour their millions of dollars into non-party groups like Freedom’s Watch, which is gearing up to spend tens of millions of dollars to help elect conservatives — primarily Republicans — to Congress and the White House.

GOP contributors don’t seem to need much convincing. Donations to federally focused conservative “527” organizations — tax-exempt groups not permitted to advocate for individual candidates but allowed to attack their positions on specific issues — totaled more than $43 million through June, according the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit campaign-finance watchdog. That’s up from roughly $21 million by the same point in 2004.

The question remains: can one of these groups locate an issue — Swift-Boat-style — with the power to sway elections?

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