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In shift, GOP vows to fight for more electable candidates in Senate primaries

Amid the ongoing war within the GOP, the Senate Republicans' campaign arm is signaling a more aggressive approach in trying to get its favored candidates through contentious primaries in 2014.

"Would we spend money in a primary? Yes, we would if that’s the right move at the time," Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told reporters Tuesday. "The path to getting a general-election candidate who can win is the only thing we care about."

"All options are on the table," Collins said. "We're here to win."

The approach is a switch from previous cycles, when the NRSC has stayed out of open contested primaries. A number of hard-line conservative candidates won primaries in 2010 and 2012 but went on to lose general elections.

And this time, the GOP is facing several potentially messy primary fights -- and again staring down third-party groups that are working to elect more conservative or Tea Party-backed candidates instead.

There's a brewing fight in Louisiana, for example, where Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy is emerging as the NRSC's choice -- but the Senate Conservatives Fund is backing Rob Maness, who has Tea Party support. That could damage their chances of beating Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in the general election.

In states like Georgia and Iowa, there are multiple GOP candidates fighting to take on Democrats. And in Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has drawn a challenge from Tea Party-backed businessman Matt Bevin.

All of it could spell trouble for a Senate GOP that is six seats short of a majority – and Collins signaled a willingness to change tactics.

"I can do whatever I want," Collins said, "and I’m going to do whatever I need to do to win."

He added: "I have 45 board members, and I have to take that into account. But this is politics, and we ultimately are in the wins business."