Is the Republican Party Headed Toward Civil War?
Even Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer, who despite early criticism ultimately supported Romney, and who, during the near-government-shutdown ordeal of 2011, advocated "realistic" pragmatism in budget negotiations, in a statement Monday pointed to "the biggest Republican victories in modern American politics" as indicative that CVP won't be successful.
"Reagan's victories in the 1980s, Newt Gingrich and the Republican revolution of 1994, and the Tea Party's historic wins in 2010 were all made possible because the Republican Party, and its candidates, stood strongly and proudly for pro-growth fiscal conservative policies," Kremer said. "The newly launched Conservative Victory Project wants to push the tea party out and replace them with the failed strategies of 2008 and 2012. This Super PAC is choosing power of principle, but will end up alienating conservatives and electoral losses.
"If the establishment's large donors want to see a complete electoral catastrophe, then all they need to do is push tea party conservatives into supporting alternative third candidates," she continued.
FreedomWorks, another powerhouse tea party fundraising group that suffered from its own infighting in December, also put out a statement, touting the "leadership" of the movement's heroes like Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, and warned, "the Empire is striking back."
"A clear pattern has emerged, beginning with the GOP leadership's efforts to silence delegates on the floor of the RNC, continuing with House Leadership's purge of fiscally conservative congressmen from their committee positions for voting out of line with the GOP establishment," spokeswoman Jacqueline Bodnar wrote. "Now, an Orwellian-named 'Conservative Victory Project' is created with the sole operating mission of blocking the efforts of fiscally conservative activists across the country.
"All events point to a fundamental clash between the old guard Republican establishment, dictating outdated ideas from the top-down, versus a tech-savvy younger generation of activists driving their agenda from the bottom-up," the statement continued.
CVP spokesman Jonathan Collegio said in an email to CBSNews.com that his group's goal "isn't to divide the party," but to "institutionalize the William F Buckley rule by supporting the most conservative candidate in the primary who can win in the general."
"...Our party has lost a number of races in recent years, both by so-called 'establishment' candidates and tea party candidates, not because of bad messages but bad messengers: undisciplined candidates with little local support and who lacked the fundraising prowess necessary to win campaigns," Collegio continued. "To win more races, we need better candidates, and that's what this group will support."
Collegio said CVP has not yet made a list of specific races they will target because "it's too early," but some reports suggest Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who says he is "50-50" on whether to make a bid for retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's seat, may be the group's most obvious starting point. King has been known to rally with firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who founded the House Tea Party Caucus and almost lost her seat in November after an unsuccessful run for the White House. Bachmann's office declined to comment for this article.