WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), one of the GOP's rising stars who is pointed to as a model for Republicans in the Northeast, sharply criticized Christine O'Donnell on Sunday, saying her candidacy led to a "missed opportunity" for the party to pick up the Delaware Senate seat.
"I think Delaware was a missed opportunity to have a really good United States senator, Mike Castle, and that's why I endorsed him in the primary," said Christie on NBC's "Meet the Press." He added, however, that the Tea Party was a "net positive" although there would be "variance around the country."
O'Donnell has said that the Republican establishment didn't give her more support because of their "bruised egos." "The deal they tried to package was soundly rejected by the voters, and they just coudln't stomach it to say, 'I was wrong,'" O'Donnell told NBC last week. "What we did was bust up the back room deals, put the political process back in the hands of the people. The voters of Delaware chose me as opposed to who the party anointed."
UPDATE, 10:49 a.m.: Also on "Meet the Press," Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who was a strong supporter of O'Donnell, criticized Republicans who refused to get behind her candidacy. "Unfortunately, she was so maligned by Republicans, I don't think she ever had a chance."
He added that Republicans who said she was not a viable candidate in the wake of her primary election win made it difficult for her to get off on the right foot for her run against Democrat Chris Coons.
DeMint had nothing but praise for Christie, however, saying that he was willing to fight the tough battles.