A family feud is raging within the GOP in the aftermath of Christine O'Donnell's shocking win over establishment favorite U.S. Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican Senate primary.
Even before election results rolled in on Tuesday night, members of the GOP community were reportedly worried about the prospect of O'Donnell swiping the party's nomination; however, following the conservative contender's upset win, tension brewing in the backdrop of the race erupted and spilled onto the national political scene.
Within less than twenty-four hours, Delaware's open Senate seat went from being strongly projected to flip red in November to being forecasted to remain blue. And, in the wake of the dramatic shift in political momentum, even Sarah Palin, who endorsed O'Donnell, and Karl Rove, who taken aim at her candidacy, are at odds.
"It does conservatives little good to support candidates who at the end of the day while they may be conservative in their public statements do not event the characteristics of rectitude, truthfulness and sincerity and character that the voters are looking for," said Rove, a top Republican strategist and Fox News contributor, on the network Tuesday night. " I mean, there were a lot of nutty things she has been saying that just simply don't add up... I'm for the Republican, but I got to tell you, we were looking at eight to nine seats in the Senate. We are now looking at seven to eight in my opinion. This is not a race we're going to be able to win."
After delivering the criticism, it didn't talk long for Palin, a Fox News commentator, to fire back on behalf of O'Donnell on the channel.
"Well, bless his heart," said Palin when asked about Rove's suggestion that the Tea Party-backed contender isn't electable. "We love our friends, they're in the machine, the expert politicos. But my message to those who say that the GOP nominee is not electable, or that they're not even going to try, well I say, buck up."
O'Donnell herself shot back at what she called "Republican cannibalism" targeting her campaign on the morning after her come-from-nowhere win. "He is eating some humble pie and he is just trying to restore his reputation," said the Senate hopeful in criticizing Rove. Making the comments on ABC's "Good Morning America," she asserted that many in the Republican establishment never expected she could pull out a win over Castle and won't expect or need their support in her general election fight against Democrat Chris Coons.
But, the bottom line is that Rove isn't the only big name conservative to have express skepticism over O'Donnell's candidacy. Even, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of the prominent Tea Party organizing group FreedomWorks, has signaled that neither he nor the organization intend to support conservative hopeful's campaign. FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey was less blunt in sounding off on the matter.
A report from Fox News on Wednesday painted a vivid picture of how the drama is seeping into the Senate halls. In describing a run-in between conservative superstar South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who endorsed O'Donnell, and Texas Sen. John Cornyn -- who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which had backed Castle -- the tension seemed to be clear.
"You're friends, right?" quipped Fox News Capitol Hill producer Trish Turner, whose camera crew captured the moment. "You're not going to beat him up or anything, right?" she asked Cornyn.
DeMint playfully raised his hand to his jaw, as if he had just been socked a good one by the taller, beefier Texan. It was all - or at least half - in jest, but Cornyn was having none of it. "I told them you and I are like peas in a pod," he said earnestly, buttoning his suit jacket and shaking DeMint's hand.
Nervously eyeing the floor, DeMint stuffed his hands in his jacket pockets. "Now that the primary is over," Cornyn assured all present, his back stiffening, "we're all unified."
Nevertheless, the Republican family drama still appears to be flaming. Who's on Team O'Donnell and who are some of the Tea Party-backed contender's most well-known critics?
Take a look:
Sarah Palin: "We can't afford "more of the same" in Washington. Christine will help usher in the real change we need to get America on the right track."
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.): "We are going to win in Delaware."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: "Christine O'Donnell won in Delaware. She got more votes in the primary. The elite media wants to declare her unelectable -- nonsense-- she won."
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.): "Christine, Delaware's next governor (sic.)."
RNC Chairman Michael Steele:"I look forward to electing Christine the next senator from the state of Delaware."
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas): Despite earlier avoiding discussing the matter, the NRSC Chairman said in a statement: "I personally as the committee's chairman - strongly stand by all of our Republican nominees, including Christine O'Donnell in Delaware."
Rush Limbaugh: "If 51 seats was really the objective -- if getting the majority is really that important, then let's go balls to the wall for Christine O'Donnell!"
Karl Rove: "There were a lot of nutty things she has been saying that just simply don't add up."
FreedomWorks President & CEO Matt Kibbe: "We stayed out of that race because we're not convinced that Christine O'Donnell can win."
Delaware state Republican Party Chairman Tom Ross: "She could not be elected dog catcher."
GOP strategist Mike Murphy: "Imbecilic move by DE GOP voters."
Conservative blogger Patrick Ruffini: "Congratulations Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)."
Weekly Standard Editor & Founder Bill Kristol: "In the Senate, Christine O'Donnell will almost certainly lose a seat that could have been won."