Tea Party darling Christine O'Donnell -- who defeated a more moderate, established congressman for the GOP nomination in Delaware's U.S. Senate race in 2010 -- has endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.
"For me, this endorsement comes down to trust," said O'Donnell in her statement of support. "I am endorsing Governor Romney because I trust him to do the right thing. He has the strength of conviction to do the right thing regardless of opposition. America needs a president who is not a Washington Insider. America needs a president who hasn't been playing the game for the last three decades. America needs a president who can turn our economy around, put Americans back to work, and will lead with stability, integrity and the values that we hold dear. I am confident Mitt Romney will be that president."
“Christine has been a leader in the conservative movement for many years,” Romney said in a statement sent out by his campaign Tuesday night. “Christine recognizes that excessive government threatens us now and threatens future generations, and I am pleased to have her on my team.”
In October, O'Donnell said she had donated to Romney and didn't believe he was "getting a fair shake" from her fellow conservatives.
"I hope the fact that I stood up to the liberal establishment within my own party gives me the bona fides among conservatives to say this," O'Donnell told ABC News. "I find the tone and nastiness of some of the things circulating around the internet about Romney extremely offensive."
Still, O'Donnell's support for Romney was a bit unexpected, considering she made a name for herself and earned the backing of the Tea Party by taking far-right positions in the Delaware race. She eventually lost to Democrat Chris Coons, contributing to a debate within the conservative movement about whether to back moderate candidates in primary races if they're more likely to be able to win in the general election.
Steven Shepard of National Journal wrote on Twitter that he was shocked the Romney campaign would want to brag about the news: "Not as surprised by the fact that Christine O'Donnell endorsed Romney as I am that the Romney camp touted it in a release."
The Democratic National Committee, perhaps revealing Democrats' bemusement over the endorsement, took the highly unusual step of forwarding Romney's press release that touted it to reporters. The DNC added a simple message to the release: "ICYMI," which means, "In case you missed it."