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. Snow

    We the people are happy to see Christine O'Donnell win her election over a RINO. More to come in November.

    September 15, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. greenwoodworker

    These are the same donkeys who said O'Donnell could not win. How many times can you be wrong. Castle just got "tea-bagged". Watch your back Coons, 'cause the Teabag is coming for you!

    September 15, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. MIKE

    I have NEVER EVER voted for a Democrat, but I would this time if the only choice was between a liberal Dem and a dishonest, manipulative, opportunistic, nutty (her positions on sexuality make the Taliban seem enlightened) peron like O'Donnell!

    This woman has NO place in politics. She is an intellectual lightweight (like Palin) and a liar! The MAIN problem with elected officials is not their policies its that they are dishonest. So what do the geniuses in Delaware do? Promote the candidacy of a woman with zero integrity, who has the temerity to lecture people about their private sexual conduct! Government has NO PLACE, NO SAY and nO BUSINESS in the bedroom, ever, period, end of story!

    Ist about the economy, defitics, trade and th elike, and this lady lacks the brain poer to tackle those issues. Princeton? Please! She could barely make it out of Farleigh Ridiculous/Dickinsomn which is not even close to being a top school!

    September 15, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. President Obozo: On vacation and OUT TO LUNCH

    Isn 't just GREAT to see all these politcial know-it-alls WITH EGG ON THEIR FACE! The FACT is that any professional politician, whether Republican or DemocRAT, is persona non grata right now. The People of this country want REAL PEOPLE representing them!

    Mike Castle has been in office DECADES and helped create the fiasco we have in this country. He and any other professional politician need not apply for further employment. YOU ARE ALL FIRED!

    DCongrats to O'Donnell on her great victory!! KEEP IT GOING!!

    September 15, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. jeb b

    p.s.; also launch a personal attack on any woman as.......... karl "forked tongue" rove has and i promise you again IT WILL BACKFIRE on you democrats... karl rove is like o'reilly he throws a rock then hides his hand. DO- NOT -– GO mean-spirited on women running as tea-party or republicans the backlash will be like a avalanche..... like O'donnell said ,don't under estimate the power of the woman. democrats you have been warned. don't fall for roves ; okey doke.

    September 15, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. The Other Dale

    The Tea Party needs to stop celebrating and look at the long-term effect they're having on Conservatives. If there was anything that has played into the Democrats and Liberals' hands it has been Tea Party candidates winning a handful of primaries against fellow Republicans and even then through vast amounts of outside money pouring in to help rather lunatic fringe people.

    Now we have McConnell once again willing to lower the bar after denouncing Tea Party candidates in order to say that the Republicans will do what they can to get such backwards individuals elected (he did it before with Paul and now with O'Donnell). Even so, you can tell he's holding back the bile while speaking such words ... probably wondering how it all came to this when the Republicans were looking so good at the beginning of the year.

    But, hey, he helped create the circus know as the Tea Party, he's got to put on the clown suit now in order to perform.

    September 15, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. MAC

    The dems should not be celebrating yet. If she is a stong fiscal conservative like Tea Party members she has a big jump on the tax and spend liberal the dems have running.

    September 15, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Bob from PA

    What is their agenda. I have not heard one concrete policy or where they would cut spending, what programs would be affected, nothing. Seeing Sarah is there golden girl and seeing in all the time she has been in the limelight I have not heard one sentence about what she would do, it is not surprising that these Palin picks don't either. Along with the FACT that they are not letting the media really scrutinize them is SCARY. The reference to the Nazis is very relevant. Beware what you ask for.

    September 15, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Anita in AZ

    There is no Obama agenda. Every tea party person I talked to are angry and scared of things that have not happened at all. Your taxes have not gone up, government isn't bigger, immigration has dropped 2/3 in 8 years. What are the tea parties plan to fix the economy? What financial regulations are you planning to get rid of? How do you plan on paying down the country's credit card? Do you think all our taxes should go up because the 2% are?

    Review the candidates views then vote. The tea party do not have any ideas different from the republican party.

    September 15, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. Hammerer

    Sooner or later the experts and the talking heads are going to realize that the American people are fed up with the elitist attitude in Washington and are in the process of changing the government. The media can spin the mood of the people anyway that they want, but the movement has started and the business as usual for both Dems and Repubs is over.
    The congress will change and those unwilling to represent the will of the people will be sent home.
    The American citizens are angry and are speaking, listen or go home!

    September 15, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. aunt Bea and Opie

    Thanks Rush,hahaha

    September 15, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Snow

    Christine O'Donnell's computer has crashed with all the people trying to send her money for her campaign. Run liberals run, but to bad for you, but O'Donnell has a great chance of winning in Delaware. Yes the Tea Party is the gift that keeps on giving, we give one way tickets to liberals and demorats from DC to home. Remember: one way tickets from DC to home.

    September 15, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. beth

    Members of the Tea Party can't see beyond the tips of their noses. They have no vision or foresight. That's a good thing because in the long run this will benefit the Democrats in November.

    September 15, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Thank you to all the stupid people who voted for tea party nuts! This November will be great for the Democrats!

    September 15, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. bill

    tea party will implode after nov.election.rhey have ruinded chance for repubs to take over .SINCE WE NOW HAVE TWO REPUB PARTY.KEEP IT UP PALIN AND REST OF YOU LOOSERS.

    September 15, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. JOSEPH W IVEY

    I have never voted for any one in any election, UNTIL NOW. Thanks to the Tea Party movement. It seems, in order to be elected as a Tea Party candidate, one most vow Never to work with the other party, never ever be in the mood for compromise, even if it means nothing gets done. I am against the Tea Party, because in politics any party or candidate who believes "it's my way or the highway." compromise is out of trhe question is an obstructionist, in my view. It's time to end Washington grid lock and elect politicians who will work with one another for the common good !

    September 15, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. stevegee

    They're also euphoric about their new "D" logo that stands for DEBT, and their new slogan "Change That Matters", which means more change to Socialism.

    So if freedom and liberty matter to you, vote Republican on November 2nd.

    September 15, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    538 gave Castle a 95% chance of winning and gives O'Donnell a 17% chance of winning. Good one GOP/conservatives...how you enjoying your Frankenstein monster?

    September 15, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. Eric

    Liberalism, socialism, communism and it's newest marxist manifestation "Obamunism" are ALL on the ropes this year, and voters are fed up in a way that we've never before seen in our lifetime.

    In a zealously anti-democrat year, in which a republican actually won Ted Kennedy's seat, anyone dismssing O'Donnell out of hand is simply not paying attention to the anti-Washington, anti-marxism, anti-democrat $h!t storm that has blown in around them like a hurricane in the past 16 months.

    Right now, Democrats are whistling past the grave yard, and yes, even this Delaware seat is winnable... not easy, put it IS possible. Who would have thought Ted Kennedy's seat was in play a year ago?

    Fact is, in THIS election year, if they're within the margin of error on election day, the tsunami will sweep O'Donnell into office with points to spare. Not because she's smart or talented or experienced... simply because the anti-Washington swell will be huge.

    September 15, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  20. Jim Cap

    The Republicans have gone too far.

    Their candidates are too extremist. Most Americans are moderate and either slightly conservative on some issues and slightly progressive on other issues.

    But most voters reject anything as extreme as the current crop of "tea bagger" conservative Republicans. They go too far.

    I personally don't want to vote for candidates that say we need to eventually get rid of Social Security and Medicare. I won't support candidates who go to rallies with signs calling the president "Hitler" or "Terrorist". I don't want to support people who don't respect the environment or education.

    I won't vote for extremists who claim any taxes are "theft" and that all Hispanics are "illegals". These new Republicans have gone too far. I can't support any of them.

    September 15, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. joe in VA

    i don't vote in delaware and don't know much about her. however, the simple fact that both the Democrats AND Republicans don't like her is reason enough for me to at least consider her as my U.S. Senator. Honestly, why don't the repubs support her? Is it because she's not tied to any special interests? go figure...

    September 15, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    As usual, Democrats will cleanup this mess in November with the help of true blood Republicans. There is and always will be two parties, Republican and Democrat who are known and respected globally. This so-called Tea Party would be a disaster to our country and the International community and people better wake up and think beyond today.

    September 15, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. Rick McDaniel

    Euphoria has a way of coming back down to earth, when you least expect it.

    September 15, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. ed

    I have NEVER EVER voted for a Republican, but I would this time if the only choice was between a conservative Repub and a dishonest, tax and spend, lying manipulative, and opportunistic like Coons!

    The democrat this year has NO place in politics. The democrat is an intellectual lightweight and a liar! The MAIN problem with elected officials is their policies and the democrat have been dishonest the last 4 years. So what do the geniuses in Delaware do? Promote the candidacy of an average citizen – a woman with integrity.

    Ist about the economy, defitics, trade...

    September 15, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "which the people especially the young see as the same ol bullcrap and have turned away. "

    Sorry dude, but the youth still very much support liberal policies. Check your facts. Why else do you think the TX Board of Education crapped its proverbial trousers and decided to start messing with the history text books to make them more conservative? Yeah, they saw the breakdown of who voted for Obama and what the youth in America believe is right and just...like equal rights for homosexuals and health care for all.

    REALITY: The GOP and conservatives want to set the federal government on a crash course with a fiscal brick wall by destroying government revenue and giving as much power as possible to corporate America because...and understand this is the 100% factual truth...all we have to do is wait patiently for the GOP to die. Have your fun in 2010...maybe even 2012...but the youth have been raised to believe things differently than you and will eventually take over. They are growing out of the cultural and societal myopia of their parents' generation and those before them. Now, add in the FACT that "white" will no longer be a majority in a couple decades. You want to know why Obama's election kicked the GOP bee hive? Look at the breakdown of who put him in office and you'll see that those two facts top the list of why the GOP/conservative hive-mind went ballistic.

    September 15, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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