Two conservative groups associated with former Bush adviser Karl Rove raised millions, much of it from undisclosed donors. The two groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, spent more than $175 million on 2012 campaigns. Tony Gutierrez/AP
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American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have set a new fundraising goal at least twice the $120 million announced earlier this year.

The ambitious fundraising target by the two affiliated groups co-founded by GOP fundraiser extraordinaire Karl Rove reflects an increased optimism among Republicans that they could score a trifecta in 2012—taking both houses of Congress and the White House.

“We see a pathway to at least doubling our earlier projected goal,” Steven Law, the president of Crossroads, told iWatch News. “Everyone is going to stretch as far as they can here because we all feel this is the most important election we have ever been involved with.”

To help achieve its new goal, the two groups have been talking to some prominent GOP figures, notably Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. The former Republican National Committee chairman has agreed to lend his Midas like rolodex to the Crossroads efforts.

“Gov. Barbour’s involvement with us gives us the capacity to focus on the presidential race, the Senate and the House at the same time,” Law said.

Barbour, who leaves his Mississippi post in January, chaired the Republican Governors Association last year when it raised a record $117 million for the fall elections.

American Crossroads, a 527 which has to disclose its donors publicly, and Crossroads GPS, a 501 (c)(4) which can keep donors’ names secret, were created early last year by Rove, the political guru to ex-President George W. Bush, and Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee Chairman.

The groups were formed soon after the Supreme Court issued its historic ruling in January 2010 in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission. That decision gave a green light to corporations, unions and individuals to spend unlimited sums on television ads and other electoral tools that directly advocate for or against a candidate.

Last year, the two groups together said they raised $71 million, of which $28 million went to the public arm American Crossroads.

The two groups, which spent more than $30 million on hard hitting ads in dozens of battleground districts and key states backing GOP candidates and attacking Democrats, have been credited with playing a big role in the GOP’s winning back control of the House.

This year, American Crossroads reported raising $3.9 million in the first six months. But that number was dwarfed by a two-month $20 million spending spree this summer by Crossroads GPS on issue ads that focused on the economy, jobs and debt. The group is expected to spend millions more this fall on other issues including attacks on health care reforms and administration economic policies.

By law as a 501 (c)(4), Crossroads GPS is required to spend the majority of its funds for non-political purposes, which has partly driven this summer’s hefty ad buys.

Last year’s success of the two groups coupled with the formation of several other new GOP allied groups prompted high powered Democratic operatives with close ties to the White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to set up a bevy of new 527s and 501 (c)(4) groups to compete.

Together, these new groups reported raising about $10 million as of June 30.

Barbour’s addition to the firepower of Crossroads underscores the Democrats’ uphill struggle.

“There are few people and maybe no one in the Republican Party and the conservative movement as respected as Gov. Barbour,” Gillespie said.

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