Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said some nice things about Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, but when asked Thursday if O’Donnell would support him as Republican leader if she were elected, the Tea Party favorite refused to commit.
In an exchange between O’Donnell and CNN reporter Jim Acosta, the Delaware Republican said she did not know if she would support McConnell.
“If the Republicans take the Senate: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or [South Carolina Sen.] Jim DeMint?” Acosta asked in a television interview with O’Donnell, referring to speculation in Washington that DeMint might mount a challenge to the current Republican leadership.
“I don’t know yet. What I have to see …” she said, stopping mid-sentence. “… Is Jim DeMint running?”
“You tell me,” Acosta replied.
“I honestly don’t know,” O’Donnell said. “I love Jim DeMint and I love what he has done. He is a principled man. What I’ve said when people have asked me who I support in leadership, I don’t know that as a outsider. Right now, I’m a candidate and not a U.S. senator.”
Before the Delaware primary election, McConnell was one of very few Republican leaders who would entertain questions about whether he would support O’Donnell if she won. While Republicans either dodged the question or openly put their support behind her opponent, Delaware Rep. Castle, McConnell told MSNBC before the results were in that he would “support the nominee.” In an interview on ABC News a few weeks ago, the Kentucky senator gave O’Donnell a new thrust of support, saying “she’s got a good chance of winning.”
A spokesman from McConnell’s office declined to comment about O’Donnell’s CNN interview.
Unlike most senators who waited to see the outcome of the Delaware primary before weighing in, DeMint openly supported O’Donnell in the days leading up to the election.
DeMint was thrust into the limelight in the final hours before the Senate broke for the campaign season after he promised to block any bills that had not been cleared by the Republican Senate Steering Committee by the Tuesday before the Senate adjourned.
A spokesman from the Senate Conservatives Fund, of which DeMint is chairman, told The Daily Caller that DeMint had no plans to challenge McConnell for his leadership position.
A senior Republican Senate aide confirmed this, and called Acosta’s question “stupid.”
“Senator DeMint is not running, which is why our candidate in Delaware was surprised by the reporter’s premise,” the aide told TheDC. “There is only one candidate for Leader, and he’s been endorsed by Sen. DeMint.”