American Crossroads, Ed Gillespie and Mitt Romney are uncomfortably close
American Crossroads confirmed today they’re gearing up for a major ad take-down against President Obama. This in and of itself is not news: the right wing super PAC vowed early on to use as much of their projected $200 million budget as necessary to defeat the president in November.
But this ad buy is notable for a few reasons: first, the group is planning three straight months of attacks, and second, as the New York Times reports, it helps allay GOP fears that Obama will easily outspend presumptive nominee Mitt Romney: “The Crossroads advertising push… would give the campaign of Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, the time and cover to map out its national organization, replenish its bank account and put the finishing touches on its own long-discussed advertising plan, which is expected to highlight the economic pain of ordinary Americans.”
The most remarkable aspect to American Crossroads’ jump into the race, however, is the fact that one of its founders, Ed Gillespie, just joined Romney’s campaign.
Not as well known as fellow American Crossroads founder Karl Rove, Gillespie is just as enmeshed in the GOP machine. The strategist helped former House Majority leader and current Tea Party kingmaker Dick Armey pen the 1994 Contract with America, and two years later he was the RNC’s communications director. He then spent a few years advising various politicians, including George Allen, the erstwhile Virginia senator who called an opposition researcher “macaca” during his 2006 campaign against Democrat Jim Webb.
After that debacle, Gillespie joined the Bush White House as a Counselor to the President in June of 2007, a position that helped him seamlessly replace Rove as Bush’s right hand two months later. He, Rove and other Republican strategists established American Crossroads in 2010, a group for which Gillespie is still an advisor.
Announcing Gillespie’s new role as a “senior advisor” on his campaign, Mitt Romney said, “Barack Obama is building a $1 billion campaign war machine, and Ed will play an important role in countering it.” Considering laws prohibiting campaigns from coordinating with outside groups, and Gillespie’s association with American Crossroads, one wonders if Romney and his influential friends aren’t simply blurring legal lines, but demolishing them.
Meanwhile, the Center for Responsive Politics offers this chart of donors who are giving money to Romney’s campaign, the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future and American Crossroads.
Romney image via davelawrence8’s Flickr.