Rove groups plan $120 million campaign in '12

/ Source: The Associated Press

A pair of political action committees organized by GOP strategist Karl Rove and demonized by Democrats said Tuesday it plans to raise $120 million ahead of the 2012 elections to help make President Barack Obama a one-term leader and elect Republicans.

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS told supporters they look to raise the massive sum to combat unions, which spent a combined $400 million to help elect Obama and Democrats in 2008.

With eyes on Wisconsin and Republican Gov. Scott Walker's showdown there with Democrats over union rights, the conservative committees hope to attract donors and attention early.

"These resources will fund advocacy efforts to compete with the torrent of outside money from unions and left-leaning groups," said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the effort. "Our first fundraising goal in 2010 was $52 million, but we ended up raising $71 million. There's more time to raise money, there's more at stake and we have a proven brand now. We've spoken with all of our donors — they're sticking with us, and most plan to come in at a significantly higher level than last time."

The groups were formed last year with help from President George W. Bush's political adviser Rove and former Republican National Committee chairmen Ed Gillespie and Mike Duncan to supplement the Republican Party's efforts during the midterm elections.

The first major so-called Super PAC took massive sums of money — largely from undisclosed donors — and helped by a new Supreme Court ruling, the deep-pocketed group became a dominant part of last election's narrative.

The groups also announced on Tuesday a Presidential Action Fund to help build a get-out-the-vote and polling operations for the eventual nominee this time around. Typically, the Republican National Committee handles such activities but some donors worry the central committee was spent so far into debt by former chairman Michael Steele, it may prove irrelevant in 2012.

American Crossroads, the political arm, is allowed to accept unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations to explicitly work for — or against — a candidate. It must disclose its donors.

Its partner organization, Crossroads GPS, is set up as a nonprofit corporation and keeps its donors private.

Democrats have criticized the efforts and Obama discouraged Democrats from forming their own groups in 2010.