September 15th, 2010
12:08 PM ET
4 years ago

White House Dispatch: Democrats euphoric about 'choice' coming out of Delaware

Washington (CNN) – Just got off the phone with top Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf, and like other White House allies I've spoken to today he's just positively euphoric the morning after the choice voters now have in Delaware after Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell's stunning Tuesday night victory in the Republican Senate primary.

"The Republicans basically gave away a Senate seat," Elmendorf practically yelled into the telephone. "This woman can not win. Just look at the tone of what the NRSC and Karl Rove said."

Indeed, the National Republican Senatorial Committee says it will not give O'Donnell any money after she knocked off their preferred candidate, moderate Rep. Mike Castle. And Rove is suggesting O'Donnell has "serious character problems" that will likely throw Vice President Joe Biden's old Senate seat into the hands of Democratic nominee Chris Coons.

Top White House aides largely agree with Elmendorf - and oddly enough Rove too - that Democrats have just taken back a Senate seat that was probably lost if Castle had won the primary. He had been elected statewide about a dozen times as governor and Congressman, while O'Donnell is a wild card.

More importantly, White House aides feel this plays right into the narrative the President has been pushing about a choice between his policies (progress) and the Republican policies ("failed policies of the past," he claims).

"It's really got to tell you something that Karl Rove is saying Christine O'Donnell is too conservative for Delaware," said a senior administration official. "The fact that Mike Castle is now too conservative for the Republican party - it's a crystal clear signal there's no room for moderates in that party."

A second senior administration official added this only helps Obama "shape our message" that the election is a choice - the word the President has used over and over - between two vastly different approaches to fixing the economy and other critical issues.

But this second official cautioned that Democrats should not get overconfident because O'Donnell can survive without money from the NRSC and the rest of the party establishment because "she'll be able to fundraise" big time from conservative activists who are motivated to help.

"That can't be underestimated," this second official said of her influence with Tea Party supporters.

But Elmendorf said the difference is that while the Tea Party had vast influence to help O'Donnell in the more narrow Republican primary, the general election will be different because Delaware is a place where moderate candidates like Castle and Sen. Tom Carper (D) have consistently won statewide.

"This is Delaware," said Elmendorf. "This is not Kentucky."

Elmendorf noted the other benefit of the Delaware results is that it helps energize the Democratic base, which has only recently started getting excited about the election. "The juices don't start flowing until after Labor Day," he said.

Elmendorf said that as Republicans continue to nominate extremely conservative candidates, it helps make the President's case that there is a wide gulf between his agenda and that of House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and other Republican leaders.

"As we get closer to the election, people will realize this is a choice," said Elmendorf. "[Obama] may not be perfect. We may not have gotten everything we wanted. But the alternative is really bad."

Music to the ears of White House aides I've spoken to today.

"This is not a one-race phenomenon," one senior administration official said of Tea Party-backed candidates winning the Republican nomination in Senate races from Kentucky to Colorado and Alaska. "It's pretty clear that's where the energy is for Republicans. The question is if that's in the mainstream of where the American people are."

The senior official added, "The good thing is now there's a clear choice among voters. It just becomes more clear. And we think we're going to win a lot of these races" where there's a clear choice.

Get used to hearing that word - choice - the President will be using it over and over in the final stretch.


Filed under: 2010 • Christine O'Donnell • White House Dispatch
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Fed Up

    We'll see on election day.

    September 15, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. cecilia

    the tea party is the gift that keeps on giving

    September 15, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. jim

    Democrats keep calling tea party members racists and other names.they say their positions are extreme yet it is the dems that have embraced Obama agenda to lead the country into "a socialist utopia" But you know what the tea party candidates keep winning.

    September 15, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. Four and The Door

    I wonder what their reaction will be when the conservative O'Donnell defeats Democratic candidate Chris Nooms? I'll bet it will not be euphoria.

    September 15, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. Sam's yer uncle

    Hooray for the Tea Partiers! They have no clue how crazy they look to most Americans, and they have no strategic knowledge, so they've dumped a bunch of crazy, unelectable theocrats into the GOP and weakened them immeasurably!

    I hope they're happy winning primaries, because that's all they're going to win! The American people don't want crazy theocrats.

    A party purist under another article said something to the effect that "if the Republican party can't be made purely conservative then we're better off if it dies away." Well, I accept your terms! Ha ha ha haaaa!

    September 15, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    The choice is clear. It is either Progressive (Which means forward) or regressive (Which means Repugnican/Tealiban.)

    The recent comment by the Repub. bigwig about racism in that party just points out what is facing the country come November. Hopefully there are enough intelligent voters in this great country that will not allow those brainless bigots to win any election.

    September 15, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. Jacob

    i don't feel as though I am a mean-spirited person, but it is so much fun watching the Republican party implode!

    they have been the enemy for far too long! and they are getting it served back to them, BIG TIME! all while Obama quietly does the job he was elected to do, and is doing it well! a big thanks to him!

    September 15, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. Pam

    Thanks for my laugh for the day!
    For a crook like Karl Rove to say that anyone has "serious character problems' is hilarious!

    September 15, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  9. jaki30

    If castle was truly a Republican In Name Only, what difference does it make if the Dems think they win the seat?
    I think the Repubican party is being extremely foolish not supporting a duly elected candidate.

    September 15, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Terry in Iowa

    I wouldn’t count any chickens yet. Hate and fear are amazing motivators and there are too many ignorant and lazy voters out there who have been enraged by the Fox News / Tea Party propaganda machine. Not since Joseph Goebbels and the Third Reich have we seen such masters of manipulation. I truly fear for this great nation.

    September 15, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. convexhull

    Elmendorf got exactly what he wanted. He's a big time lobbyist for big Pharma and financial services companies who is insider enough to get watered down versions of the reform bills that passed Congress.

    September 15, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  12. get real

    It all depends on how much money Koch, inc. decides to spend on these races. Nice grass roots effort, folks. Or should I say nice astroturf movement little puppets of greedy, daddy's boys who have complete control over you to make you work against your own interests for their personal, financial and political gain.

    September 15, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. gt

    they dont understand... were sick to death of politians from both parties.... so they want the status que... more of what we got now... dont think so ...,better whipe the smurk of your faces...crow doesnt taste good...

    September 15, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. Proud member of "Gobal Zero"

    This country voted for GWB not just once but twice. Please do not let these people into Congress. We will be stuck with a Senate like this for 6 years. I know I will be moving if they win in the General.

    GOTV

    September 15, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. Marcus

    As much as you like or dislike O'Donnell, you simply can't deny that her victory did some damage on the GOP in a state level. So the GOP has to heal its wounds, fast, or the Dems will use it (the damage) on their behalf.

    September 15, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  16. Anne P CA

    Priceless! Hope the Palin clone enjoys her few days in the limelight. Man, looking at past video clips of her activist days was pretty enlightening. What is wrong with people to vote for someone like this? Totally irresponsible.

    September 15, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. vic, Nashville TN

    Smart republican told me last December Tea party will help GOP in 2010 and local elections but by 2016 democrats will have 2/3 of registered voters ( indirectly he said tea party no good for long term in national level )

    Now tea party grown so fast and divide the GOP

    September 15, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  18. jeb b

    democrats; the tea party is going to catch you sleeping.......... mark my word. there is a enviroment of disgust in the air at GOV which obama came along and promised change...... which the people especially the young see as the same ol bullcrap and have turned away. dems don't take the palin/painlin express seriously and i promise you. you'll pick your jaw off the ground nov.4........... tea party threat is your SCOTT BROWN moment. republicans are knowingly having it and getting it both ways. carl rove is just roving you he figures that a statement against a tea party candidate is a win which will garner a huge backlash/turnout for the republican vote. its called reverse psycology and rove is a master at it. he speaks with forked tongue.

    September 15, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  19. Keith in Austin

    Democrats should be as "euphoric" about their own miserable track record since 2006 when their strangle hold on the U S Congress began.

    September 15, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. Take America Back: from Texas

    The LIberal hasn't had very much to be euphoic about for about 18 months......so I guess they are due one, however don't get too giddy, I can bet you good money today that your euphoria will turn into extreme sadness in Nov....why? Because the "real voters" WILL vote against Dems!
    Keep laughing....

    September 15, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  21. DIANA

    Lets hope the same could be said about Angle, Paul, and Quail. But you can't over estimate the stupidity of some people. Angle, Paul, and that nutcase in Arizona are beating their opponents. Lets hope people wake up and realize they're bad for our country.

    September 15, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  22. J STIZZLE ( Oakland , Ca. )

    Yes .... the Tea Partiers keep winning. Until November. The GOP has met its match .... the Tea Party !!!!!

    September 15, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  23. Bob in PA

    Get cocky, Steve Elmendorf and his friends are on their way out too.

    September 15, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. Shawn-GA

    Conservatism is what this country needs NOT Republicans or Democrats. People who want to listen to their constitutes and do the will of the people. Not people who want to give freebies to everyone.

    Make welfare 6 months and then you are off and you will find that Americans will take jobs they would not have considered before. It is easy to sit on your butt and do nothing for a check. You then become the lapdog of the hand that feeds you though and not a person of your own.

    September 15, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. cj

    Dems need to be careful here, sticking your head in the sand will never a winner make!
    Hard work in Delaware is needed to make sure O'Donnell does not also surprise us in a few weeks!

    September 15, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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