Mitt Romney, offering a maximum campaign contribution and a warm endorsement, was among the first Republican figures today to attempt to thaw the bitter and frozen relationship between the GOP and its Senate nominee from Delaware, Christine O'Donnell.
“Now is the time for Republicans to rally behind their nominee, Christine O'Donnell,'' said Romney, the former presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor, in a statement.” She ran an impressive campaign. I believe it is important we support her so we can win back the US Senate,"
He backed his words with a $5,000 contribution to her campaign from his Free and Strong America political action committee.
O'Donnell, backed by Sarah Palin and figures of the Tea Party movement, shocked longtime GOP congressman Mike Castle, a moderate, in Tuesday's primary for the seat previously held by Vice President Joe Biden for 36 years. She will face Democratic nominee Chris Coons in November.
The victory, however, came with plenty of bruises and hard feelings. Republican leaders, both in Delaware and nationwide, pilloried O'Donnell, a substance abuse counselor, in the days leading up to the election, with one state party official calling her unfit to even run for dogcatcher. The party fiercely denounced her as reckless and repeatedly called attention to her history of personal financial problems, including unpaid taxes and a foreclosed home.
O'Donnell hit back, saying Castle, a two-term governor and nine-term congressman, represented the old, tired ways of a Washington that is deaf to the voters and incompetent for the citizens.
“A lot of people said we could not win the general election,’’ O’Donnell Tuesday night told supporters, who began chanting “Yes we can,’’ a staple of the Obama campaign trail. “It is the same so-called experts who said we had no chance of winning the primary. And if those people who worked so hard against me now work so hard for me, we will win.’’
As the votes were being counted Tuesday night and the tally tilted toward O'Donnell, some Republican insiders said the party was considering whether to withhold support for her campaign in the general election. Leaders had once thought the seat would be an easy win for the GOP, with Castle on the ballot, but O'Donnell represented too much of an unpredictable risk.
Yesterday, Senator John Cornyn of Texas stepped back from that intra-party chasm, vowing to vigorously support O'Donnell and sending a maximum contribution of $42,000 from the group he heads, the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.