Karl Rove Backs Ben Carson? Report Says Rove Has Opened His Rolodex to Carson to Defeat Trump
Republican strategist Karl Rove helped set up a meeting between top fundraisers for Ben Carson and casino mogul Steve Wynn.
Rove confirmed to Bloomberg Politics that he acted as the go-between for the Carson camp and Wynn, a sometimes business competitor of Donald Trump, the rival Carson has been batting all fall for the Republican nomination.
“I introduced them but I don’t know anything further about that,” said Rove, who added that he did not attend the meeting.
The mastermind of George W. Bush’s presidential victories in 2000 and 2004, Rove has not signed on with any of the presidential candidates this year, though he says he has dispensed advice to a number who have asked. Trump’s camp is viewing the effort to help the billionaire real estate mogul’s chief rival as an attack on the front-runner.
“Karl Rove is at the center of the GOP establishment — fearful of what real leadership in Washington D.C. will accomplish,” said Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in a statement when asked about Rove’s role in facilitating the meeting between Carson and Wynn. “Mr. Trump continues to expose the all-talk, no action politicians propped up by their dark money super PACs that have failed the American people for far too long.” Rove helped found one of the pioneering dark money groups, Crossroads GPS, which as a non-profit does not have to disclose the identities of its donors.
Lewandowski did not address the role of Wynn, who, according to a Fox Business Network report in September, has repaired his sometimes rocky relationship with Trump and become a campaign adviser. Wynn and Trump have a complicated historydating back to the 1990s, where the two businessmen battled in the casino real estate market.
Michael Weaver, a spokesman for Wynn, said in an e-mail that he so far has not been able to confirm the meeting with his boss. Weaver added that Wynn “is not an advisor to Mr. Trump; Mr. Wynn speaks occasionally and informally with many candidates.”
In June, according to records on file at the Federal Election Commission, Wynn donated $25,000 to America Leads, a super political action committee (one that can take contributions in unlimited amounts) that backs New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s presidential bid. Wynn and his wife, Andrea, also donated $5,000 apiece to Christie’s traditional political action committee, Leadership Matters for America. Meanwhile, Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, has made several contributions, totaling more than $11,500, to Right to Rise, a super-PAC backing former Florida Governor Jeb Bush for president.
On Bloomberg Politics With All Due Respect earlier this week, Rove listed Bush, Christie and Marco Rubio as the three candidates most likely to knock Trump off when “the other 70 to 75 percent of the party begins to coalesce behind somebody.” The reference is to Trump’s polling numbers. Though consistently leading the Republican pack since the summer, Trump has never been able to get much past the 30 percent mark in the polls tracked by Real Clear Politics.
Rove’s role in setting up the meeting between Wynn and Carson advisers raised some eyebrows within Carson’s political orbit, with some advisers questioning Rove’s intentions, said one source familiar with the meeting and the campaign.
The source said they were skeptical that Rove was only acting to inflate Carson in an effort to ultimately take out Trump. “Karl Rove isn’t just going just to help Ben Carson out of the goodness of his heart,” the source said. Terry Giles, a Texas lawyer who was one of the Carson advisers at the meeting, is no longer formally associated with Carson’s campaign or a pro-Carson super PAC….