The boss emeritus threw a jolt into the blogosphere by flagging this last night, and with good reason. Is America’s new most famous RINO about to go fully rogue and endorse Coons?
No. Or should I say, not yet?
Castle has spent the past 36 hours fielding phone calls and pats on the back from well-wishing colleagues and other politicians, including President Obama, Vice President Biden, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and dozens of others. He said that he was coming to grips with the reasons for his defeat – a conservative rebellion in the southern portion of the state that was given extra ammunition by Sarah Palin’s endorsement of O’Donnell. But he said that there probably wasn’t enough time in the next six weeks for him to get over some of the attacks lobbed in the contest.
“There are a lot of personal feelings in all this,” Castle said in an interview off the House floor, citing “some of the personal smears” in the bitterly fought campaign. “At this point I have no intention of endorsing.”
He ruled out supporting the Democratic nominee, New Castle County Executive Christopher Coons, suggesting that he will remain neutral in the run for Senate.
He’s not as neutral as he’d like you to think: According to Ben Smith, his campaign team was still sending out anti-O’Donnell e-mails a day after the election. Very lame. And speaking of lame, here’s Delaware GOP chairman Tom Ross calling for unity — after having infamously said of O’Donnell a few days before the election, “She could not be elected dog catcher.” If you want to throw roundhouses, Tom, be a pundit, not a politico. Oh well. Ross says he’d like to remain a politico:
“Tuesday night, Delaware Republicans came out in large numbers to nominate candidates across the state to bring prosperity and accountability to Washington and Dover. After a hard fought primary it is time to come together and unite over our shared principles and determination to rescue our economy from the destructive policies advanced by Democrats.”
“The Delaware Republican Party plans on doing what it does every election year – working hard for our candidates. We have reached out to the NRSC, NRCC, and RNC to ensure that our candidates have as much support as possible. The winds of change are blowing hard in Delaware and together we can take our state and country back. I will honor my commitment to our party’s grassroots activists and continue to serve as Chairman of the Republican Party of Delaware.”
Whether the party’s grassroots activists, most of whom assuredly supported O’Donnell, want him to stay is up to them. But even as a guy who grudgingly backed Castle, I’d want him out for being a horrible strategist. It’s one thing for the state party to back a candidate because they think the other can’t possibly win, but to gratuitously alienate one side’s supporters with “dog catcher” rhetoric when you know you’ll need them for the general? By doing that, this guy might have blown the seat for the GOP even if Castle had won. Why keep him?
As expected, Biden’s already making plans to campaign for Coons inside the state. I wonder if that was going to happen all along or if the Dems are suddenly worried about O’Donnell’s fundraising bonanza yesterday. In the course of one day, she’s basically pulled even with him in terms of money in the bank, and given the grassroots enthusiasm for her, she may very well end up out-earning. That’s wonderful news no matter who ends up taking the seat because the Dems are going to have to spend money now, if only to ensure that a comfortable lead remains comfortable. (In fact, they’ve already announced their first ad buy in the area.) More money spent on Coons means less money spent everywhere else; Democrats would counter that that’s also true of grassroots righties donating to O’Donnell, but I’m not so sure. I suspect a fair number of them were never planning to donate to anyone but are so excited by her win that they’re digging deep — and, now that they’re in the habit, they may dig deep for other candidates too. Having Biden campaign for Coons is a cheap counter to her money advantage because it’ll attract “earned media,” a.k.a. news coverage, that the campaign doesn’t spend a dime on. Can’t wait to see what the polls look like in, say, two weeks.
Update: Sounding more like Dennis Hopper than ever, our vice president previews his stump speech:
On the heels of Christine O’Donnell’s primary win in Delaware Tuesday, Vice President Biden tonight had a straightforward message to progressives: “Get in gear, man.”…
“I think it’s time for our base to say, ‘Hey man, take a look. This opposition is for real,’” he said.