Posted on | September 4, 2011 | 28 Comments
One of the undeniable truths about Christine O’Donnell’s 2010 Delaware Senate campaign is that many Republicans wanted her to lose. Months before most Americans ever heard of O’Donnell, leading members of the GOP Establishment had invested their influence and prestige in attempting to ensure that nine-term Rep. Mike Castle would be the Republican nominee. Much as they had in Florida — where the state party chairman and the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, had arranged an early endorsement for Charlie Crist – the Establishment lined up early behind Castle.
From the very outset of her 2010 campaign, O’Donnell found herself fighting off savage attacks from Republicans, including false accusations included in an opposition-research dossier distributed to reporters. With the support of Tea Party activists, O’Donnell scored an upset victory over Castle in the primary, but by then her reputation was badly damaged by the unrelenting assaults from the GOP Establishment. And talk about the need for “party unity” – which had been often heard from Establishment leaders when they had thought their liberal friend Castle would win the primary – was forgotten the moment O’Donnell emerged as the GOP nominee. In her new book Troublemaker: Let’s Do What It Takes to Make America Great Again, O’Donnell identifies former Bush administration official Karl Rove as the most famous of those who helped undermine her campaign. Here is a brief excerpt from Chapter Nine of her book:
The 2010 campaign would be marked by an endless parade of confounding, head-scratching moments, dirty tactics from within my own party, and boldfaced lies and distorted truths that were hurled at me from all sides and would end up completely overshadowing our message – which I suppose was the whole point of their efforts.
From the very beginning – or, at least, from the moment our campaign was seen as some kind of threat to certain segments of the Republican establishment – certain party leaders rolled up their sleeves, gnashed their teeth, and came looking for me. I’d already set off our state party leadership with my 2006 and 2008 campaigns, but here it looked like I was about to ruffle even bigger feathers, on an even bigger stage.
Enter Karl Rove. Say what you will about Karl Rove, but he’s no conservative, not in my book. As the architect of George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, he deserves a nod for returning the White House to the Republican column, but from where I sat he was the chief RINO in the Bush administration. Since resigning from the Bush White House, he’d passed himself off as a conservative political analyst, trying to fool the faithful into believing he’d been one of us all along – with only mixed results.
I greatly admire President Bush as a leader with the courage to defend his country and to stand for his convictions … most of the time. But liberal influences within his own administration, led at times by Karl Rove, severely tarnished Bush’s legacy among true Constitutionalists, and undermined our Republican-led Congress. Of course, the problem didn’t begin or end with Karl Rove; dozens of moderate Republicans were also to blame, including Delware congressman Mike Castle. Make no mistake, it was Karl Rove’s camp that pushed amnesty for illegal aliens, and cut deals with liberal Democrats for overspending and ever-expanding regulation. It was Karl Rove’s style of Machiavellian, unprincipled realpolitik that destroyed the Republican brand. No question, one of the key factors behind the GOP loss of Congress in 2006 was the widespread disgust among conservatives with Rove’s policies.
In December 2009, Karl Rove came to Delaware to do what he could to get Mike Castle elected – and to bury my campaign in the process. Rove invited Tea Party leaders to a closed-door meeting in Dover and headlined a fund-raising event for the Delaware GOP at the Baywood Country Club. Among the attendees of the closed door meeting was Russ Murphy, one of the leaders of the 9-12 Delaware Patriots, a grassroots advocacy group in our state that was founded to recapture the patriotic fervor that swept the country in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001. Russ reported that the meeting was little more than an opportunity for Karl Rove to thump his chest and “bloviate.” At some point in the middle of his self-congratulatory remarks, Rove found time to urge the Patriots and Tea Party supporters in attendance to get behind Mike Castle in the upcoming Senate race, arguing that no other candidate could win in a general election. He didn’t single me out – that would come later – but he made an emphatic point of saying that it was Castle’s “turn” to run.
A lot of folks in that closed-door meeting tried not to chuckle, because Karl Rove seemed to have no clue that Castle’s long tenure as part of the establishment was a big fat negative in the eyes of our state’s true activists. In their estimation, and in mine, Castle’s long tenure had been a little too long, and it had lately taken a decidedly liberal turn; rather than qualify him for the U.S. Senate, his “established” liberal voting record seemed to disqualify him in the eyes of many.
Rove’s slap was more of a roadblock than an attack – but whatever you called it, it was the first obstacle of many facing our campaign. At the event at Baywood, Rove gave an impassioned speech about how, after the primary, we all needed to unite around the victor, regardless of how we’d felt before the primary. Over and over he stressed how crucial it would be to put our differences aside immediately after the winner was announced and band together to ensure that the primary winner would be elected in November.
I turned to Jason O’Neil, who was sitting to my left, and said, “That’s good to hear. We’re going to need him!” And he smiled and nodded in agreement.
— excerpted from Troublemaker: Let’s Do What It Takes to Make America Great Again by Christine O’Donnell.