Much is made of the fight for the soul of the Republican Party, often portrayed as a civil war pitting the party’s establishment against an insurgent Tea Party.
Much money is being made in the process.
So says Haley Barbour, the former Republican National Committee chairman, ex-governor of Mississippi and K Street power lobbyist who knows something about mixing money and politics.
The fight within the party, Barbour says, is being driven by Republican consultants looking for ways to get rich quick.
Asked if the establishment wing of the party has the upper hand so far in the primary election season underway, Barbour said yesterday: “Frankly the average, quote, Tea Party Republican and the average establishment Republican would vote the same on about 95 percent of issues. ”
“There’s hardly any issue on policy,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of a Bloomberg Government forum on infrastructure. “There are some people who are very loudly different on process – or tactics.”
“But the biggest thing is, there are a handful of political consultants with a handful of groups that are getting rich running campaigns against incumbent Republicans.”
He points to an article in the Washington Post this week showing $9.7 million spent by “quote conservative Republican groups attacking Republican senators,” and only $3.6 million spent by Republican groups attacking Democrat senators.
“I can tell you most Republican donors want their money spent beating Democrats, not attacking Republicans,” Barbour said. “And as long as these guys can raise the money and get rich doing it, that’s going to continue.”
“And it’s not being driven by Tea Party, grassroots Republican conservative activists,” he said. “It’s being driven by a handful of people getting rich doing it.”
It’ll be “good for the party if we can put it out,” he said.
See the Bloomberg TV interview with Barbour about the party, the gasoline tax and infrastructure spending, immigration, the 2016 presidential election field and more.