Republican stalwart Haley Barbour irked the right-wing Club For Growth after telling National Review that conservative donors should stop giving to them and other groups that spend money attacking Republicans.
"We kicked away four or five Senate seats in the last two cycles by nominating candidates who did not have the best chance to win," Barbour told NRO. “We ought to talk to Republican donors now, in the off-season before the primaries, and discourage them from donating to organizations that will attack good Republicans. ... Republican groups like the Club for Growth should stop spending money to defeat Republicans. Politics can’t be about purity. Unity wins in politics, purity loses."
That provoked a response from Chris Chocola, the president of Club For Growth, which is known for backing staunchly conservative candidates against establishment favorites in Republican primaries.
“Haley Barbour is a good guy. When he was thinking of running for President, he was more than pleased to attend the Club for Growth's winter economic conference, and he had nothing but nice things to say about us. Now that he's back to his more familiar roles as a lobbyist and Republican Party insider, he is singing a different tune. That’s politics," Chocola said in a statement. "The truth is, while the Club for Growth PAC has helped elect more Republicans to Congress than just about any other group, our mission and Haley Barbour's mission are just plain different. Haley wants every Republican to win, regardless of how they vote in office. The Club for Growth PAC helps elect candidates who support limited government and free markets. Unfortunately, the two goals coincide less often than the Republican Establishment cares to admit."
Chocola added: "The more Haley Barbour and Karl Rove attack the work of the Club for Growth PAC, the more it energizes and grows our membership. In 2014, we are looking forward to adding to the U.S. Senate ranks the likes of Tom Coburn, Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, Jeff Flake, Ted Cruz, and Tim Scott -- all elected with the support of Club members and despite the initial disdain of the GOP Establishment."