The Other McCain

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Troublemaker: Karl Rove vs. O’Donnell

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.


28 Responses to “Troublemaker: Karl Rove vs. O’Donnell”

  1. Mike
    September 4th, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

    That’s the main problem with Republicans…we tend to “eat our own.” Democrats on the other hand, once the dust settles from the primaries, will stand behind their choice come hell or high water.

  2. Anonymous
    September 4th, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    Well, only in certain circumstances. If it’s a candidate deemed acceptable by the establishment, then it’s all “party unity – who you gonna vote for, the Democrat?”. But these same establishment folks seem to think they don’t have to play by their own rules. Witness Crist running as an independent, Castle withholding his endorsement, and the treatment of Sharon angle in Nevada.

    We USED to be the hell or high water party, but our “betters” in the party have decided to ruin that.

    And Democrats have never played that game. Remember PUMA?

  3. rosalie
    September 4th, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

    With friends like the GOP Establishment, who needs enemies?  I think she has potential but it’s going to take time.  I didn’t see her on Morgan’s show, but when you go on a show like that, you know what you’re getting into and you need to be prepared for anything.   You have to outsmart your host.  She let her emotions get the best of her.  Obviously, she needs to toughen up.

  4. Anonymous
    September 4th, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

    Look around today.  It’s not just the Establishment bringing out the long knives.  If it’s not clear to you yet, it will be in another feww months.

  5. Jorge Emilio Emrys Landivar
    September 4th, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

    Its happening to Perry and Ron Paul now.

  6. Anonymous
    September 4th, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

    It’s not clear to me yet. What is “it”?

  7. richard mcenroe
    September 4th, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

    If “it” involves asking them for concrete answers (Perry) and to stop talking like a freaking Martian (Paul) then “it” might indeed be a problem.

  8. richard mcenroe
    September 4th, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

    If “it” involves asking them for concrete answers (Perry) and to stop talking like a freaking Martian (Paul) then “it” might indeed be a problem.

  9. Anonymous
    September 4th, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

    And if “it” is going to be a problem, then now I really want to know what it is.

  10. Elize Nayden
    September 4th, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

    If she had not lost, the media would have made her the official, national, highest ranking face of the Tea-Party by now. We would see daily primetime interviews half of which would probably have been like her Morgan-interview. She is a walking disaster and primary and general election in Delaware were lose-lose situations. And im not so sure that we didnt end up with the smaller evil.

    The Tea-Party is better off with somebody like Bachmann as its national face.

  11. Anonymous
    September 4th, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

    If we could ever get all the full, insider details on the O’Donnell campaign – both from inside her campaign and from inside the establishment machinery – it might be very instructive.

    On the one hand, I was under the impression that some well-meaning, serious libertarians/conservatives truly believed that O’Donnell was sort of an opportunistic flake, or something. I have no idea if that’s true, but I also have a hard time believing that all those people (many of whom are not insiders) helped to contrive that sentiment/meme for Machiavellian purposes and orchestrated it as such.

    On the other hand, if some key establishment players – with their media connections and acumen for spinning “narratives” – decides to target (and/or not protect) insurgents like O’Donnell, that might have a powerful effects. Part of me thinks: if someone had all the intimate details on ANY politician, it would be easy enough to spin a narrative from those disclosures that’d make ANY politician seem crazy as well, immoral, phony, etc.     

  12. ThePaganTemple
    September 4th, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

    You’ve fallen for the MSM, Democrat, and Establishment GOP line of shit, and you’ve taken it hook, line, and sinker. And I saw the debate between CO’D and Coons, so I know what I’m talking about. She owned Coons in that debate. He was a piece of raw meat, and she gutted, cleaned, and sauteed his ass. All he could do was keep repeating the party line, even after she eviscerated him, like he was some programmed mannequin on auto-pilot. Bottom line, she won the debate, but the national media spun it in Coons favor.

    After all, most people, including probably yourself, didn’t see the debate, other than a few select snippets after the fact. Do yourself a favor, take the time to hunt for it and watch the whole damn thing, preferably a version that hasn’t been edited and “interpreted”.

    And please bear in mind, I’m not an ideologue who insists on conservative purity on all matters no matter the consequence or situation. I’m fine with the fact that as Republicans, we aren’t always going to be able to elect a conservative, ideological purist, especially in the Senate, if we want to gain and maintain a strong majority. Especially if we want a a filibuster and/or veto-proof majority.

    But O’Donnell could have won that election, and should have. That whole deal in Delaware was not one of the GOP’s proudest moments. To put it charitably.

  13. Charles
    September 4th, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

    Christine O’Donnell also blames “I’m not a witch” on her establishment media advisers. The bst you can say about here is that she is naive. You can’t fight the party establishment and then expect it to have your back. You have to take it directly to the voters.

    But let’s remember she got her start on Bill Maher’s show, where she had the job of the conservative who always looks stupid. I suspect a Trojan horse.

    Look at how Christine tried to sandbag Sarah Palin in Iowa this weekend. Sarah did support her (at no inconsiderable credbility cost it turned out). That is biting the hand that fed you.

  14. Anonymous
    September 4th, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

    I’ll give you one example – Bachmann’s migraines.  Wasn’t the Dims or their propaganda arm, the MFM, that put it out there, and exaggerated it beyong belief.  Yep, the Dims & MFM jumped on it, but this came from the right side of the political spectrum.

  15. Anonymous
    September 4th, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

    The DC GOP were all for christ. But between him & O’Donnel, who was best for the the real GOP?

    Same with CA where all the money went to a rino.

    The DC GOP is our enemy. Just look at Boehner selling our cobservatives for golfing dates for instance.

  16. Quartermaster
    September 4th, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

    It came from people masquerading as the right. Never forget the Republican establishment is as leftist as the Dems are. They are statists and about nothing but power.

  17. Quartermaster
    September 4th, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

    I don’t know that we have the truth on what happened in Iowa. At this point it seems that the organizers are probably at fault.

  18. Adjoran
    September 4th, 2011 @ 6:50 pm

    The FACT is she was completely unqualified, and a lousy candidate as previewed by her earlier attempt.  The FACT is she took in millions of dollars from suckers all around the country and ended up with more than a million in her account while losing, and is living on that money now.

    You can be stuck on stupid if you wish, and fight every battle over again, but the truth was ALWAYS clear in Delaware.  To think she could win statewide was delusional.  Karl Rove didn’t hurt her chances.  Nobody in Delaware or elsewhere decides who to vote for based on Rove’s opinions. 

    She never had a chance, period, and anyone who pointed out this simple truth was labelled “RINO” or “Establishment” by the same band of geniuses who gave us Buck, Maes, Angle, and Miller.  COD was the cutest loser, but a loser nonetheless from the word “GO.”

    It was stupidity to back her, stupidity to fund her, and it is stupidity to continue to defend stupid mistakes like her. 

    Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

  19. ThePaganTemple
    September 4th, 2011 @ 6:50 pm

    That whole golf outing thing was stupid as hell, but it was targeted mainly at independents, moderates and undecideds who were bitching about the lack of politicians “reaching across the aisle”. Two days later those same independents, moderates and undecideds forgot all about it and were busy trying to decide whether they were going to spend twenty or thirty dollars calling in votes for their favorite America’s Got Talent contestant.

  20. ThePaganTemple
    September 4th, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

    Yeah, actually the truth is out there.  O’Donnell was invited to speak at the event and would have been there, but then she was widely and roundly criticized in the MSM because of her appearance on the Piers Morgan Comedy Hour, after which her invitation was rescinded, resulting in even more hilarity. Remember, you saw it here first.

  21. ThePaganTemple
    September 4th, 2011 @ 7:04 pm

    They are statists, and they are about nothing but power, but there’s no way they’re as leftist as the Democrats.

  22. ThePaganTemple
    September 4th, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

    Wrong! Rove definitely had an affect on funding and support, and he hurt, along with other national party people. Mainly though it was the state party itself who refused to get in line behind her and support her, just because she wasn’t part of their clique. If they had stood behind her and supported her, might she still have lost? Hell yes, she might have, as Delaware is a solidly Democrat state. So are we going to not support and fund all Republicans in predominantly Democrat states”? The point is, she had a real chance of winning, or could have won, if the GOP hadn’t checked their balls in at the primary. Like it or not, like her or not, the people of Delaware made their choice. The majority of Delaware Republican voters decided on Christine O’Donnell as their standard bearer instead of Mike Castle, whom they rejected soundly.

    That’s the real story right there. Not that Christine O’Donnell might not be as edumacated or as “experienced” (ahem) as Castle (at fucking the people for the benefit of the political AND the state banking and regulatory establishment). Not that she might have been a little bit on the loopy side (otherwise known in non-political circles as a real, authentic human being).

    The real story is the Delaware State GOP party establishment decided to give a great bit hearty “FUCK YOU” to the Republican majority conservative voters of Delaware with the aid and support of the national party.

  23. Anonymous
    September 4th, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

    It does no good to have a sixty plus majority in the senate if the last five or so “Republicans” are squishes. It costs more to buy your friends votes than find one or two votes from the other side. Having fifty plus makes it theoretically possible to control the senate agenda. As for judicial appointment it only takes 41 dedicated partisans to force the administration to settle. The senate should have been able to stop both supreme court appointments made by the zero. It doesn’t matter if there are sixty Republicans in the senate if twenty of them aren’t willing to filibuster an appointee because of decorum. It’s not enough to just win elections “they” must be crushed.

  24. Bob Belvedere
    September 4th, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

    Correct.  They are just Useful Idiots and Dupes of the Left.

  25. Anonymous
    September 4th, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

    This is good stuff, Adjoran v. The Pagan Temple. But it doesn’t take things any further than they were last year: competing interpretations.

    What is the “hard” evidence that CO was a “lousy candidate”; that she is currently spending the money she collected from that campaign; that she never had a chance; or, that Rove puroposely or inadvertantly hurt CO’s chances; that the state GOP did nothing for CO; that the national GOP concertedly undermined CO’s campaign?  

  26. Anonymous
    September 4th, 2011 @ 11:20 pm

    PG the money she got was donated volunteerily, no gifts from the  GOP establishment. Critizing the donors like like The Won blaming voters

  27. Anonymous
    September 5th, 2011 @ 5:45 am

    Rove is becoming less consequential every day.  He couldn’t get Gov. Palin to announce, and he couldn’t get Mike Castle nominated.  Whoever he’s quietely supporting now should be very worried.

  28. Shawn Gillogly
    September 5th, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    I agree there’s nothing wrong in the Primary season about asking serious questions. But that isn’t the same as what Rove and co did to O’Donnell. Then he say there on his Fox podium on election night and said, “I take no pleasure in her losing, but I said this would happen.”

    Of course he took pleasure in it. Rove loves nothing more than backstabbing those who cross him. And of course it happened, because he’s a true political cannibal.

    And that’s why Rove is launching a lot of these attacks on Perry. Because he was all for KBH, as it was her ‘turn’ when Perry ran for Governor. When she lost, Perry locked Rove out of Austin for his tactics. Now he dreads being locked out of a GOP admin too.