RECRUITING STRATEGY…. The New York Times reported the other day that National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas intends to “recruit candidates who he thought could win in Democratic or swing states, even if it meant supporting candidates who might disagree with his own conservative views.”

This sounds sensible. Cornyn saw the DSCC and Chuck Schumer boost their numbers using a similar approach, and apparently realized Republicans could do the same thing, even if it caused grumbling with the party’s base. “Some conservatives would rather lose than be seen as compromising on what they regard as inviolable principles,” Cornyn added.

It’s curious, then, that the NRSC chairman seems to be backpedaling.

Senator John Cornyn, the head of the NRSC, appears to be backing off his earlier vow to field more moderate Senate candidates who have a better shot at winning general election. […]

Asked if he would back conservative Club for Growth president Pat Toomey or the more moderate Tom Ridge in the 2010 Pennsylvania GOP primary, Cornyn made a few pro forma comments about hoping the strongest candidate would win, but said:

“I don’t think it’s wise for me to tell Pennsylvania Republicans who their nominee should be, so I’m not going to do that.”

Obviously, primary voters are solely responsible for choosing their party’s nominee. But Cornyn knows full well that the party recruits candidates for a reason, and then supports those candidates — with varying degrees of subtlety — to give the party the best chance of success. That’s one of the reasons the parties’ campaign committees exist.

Indeed, that’s precisely why Cornyn indicated to the NYT that he would deliberately recruit less-conservative candidates to compete in less-conservative states. Why back off of that now?

Perhaps someone explained to him the value of maintaining “inviolable principles”?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.