Christine O’Donnell, the former Republican Senate candidate and a Tea Party favorite during the 2010 election, said in an exclusive interview with ABC News that she has not only given money to presidential candidate Mitt Romney but also says she doesn’t think he is getting a “getting a fair shake” from those within her own movement.
Romney has so far been highly criticized by the Tea Party movement, who sent protestors to picket during his debut September Tea Party Express event.
Jerry DeLumus, the chairman of the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC, told ABC News at the Concord, N.H., event that he believed Romney was using the flashy Tea Party Express bus as a “photo op” and not because he is actually aligned with tea party principles.
But O’Donnell, who struggled with her own fair share of bad press during her Senate campaign, told ABC News that she tends to “empathize” when she sees “Romney’s record being so obviously distorted and twisted.”
“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,” said O’Donnell. “I find the tone and nastiness of some of the things circulating around the internet about Romney extremely offensive.”
“It’s politics of personal destruction aimed at our own and it’s got to stop,” she added. “Right now a lawn gnome could beat Obama in 2012, so, yes, we can be picky, but not nasty or malicious. If we don’t stop the Republican cannibalism we’re simply turning this election over to the Democrats, who certainly don’t deserve it.”
“We should learn a lesson from what happened in my race last year. I was consistently beating my democratic opponent in the pre-primary head to head match up and then the Republican Establishment launched their shameless attack and changed all that,” said O’Donnell. “As the saying goes, a lie runs around the world while the truth is still lacing up its shoes.”
O’Donnell won the Delaware GOP primary in 2010 by more than 53 percent of the vote against U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, but later lost to Democrat Chris Coons in the general election.
O’Donnell confirmed what Romney’s campaign finance receipts for the third quarter show: a $250 donation. She tells ABC News that the money came from her own pocket – not her Political Action Committee or her campaign.
While she has not yet maxed out to the Romney campaign, O’Donnell suggests that she will.
“Yes, I contributed to Romney,” she said. “While I am still undecided, I am leaning more and more towards Romney. Voters are craving strong leadership, Romney has it.”
“Right now, I’m 70 percent behind Romney,” she said. “I will absolutely max out if he’s the nominee.”
“It’s almost like we conservatives have to apologize for it, but we like him,” said O’Donnell of those in the Tea Party movement who favor Romney.
“And the very thing that he was criticized for in 2008, I find appealing heading into 2012,” she said. “In the midst of such turmoil and uncertainty, it’s comforting that he’s strong, solid and stands as an unmovable Oak tree in the middle of a raging storm.”
O’Donnell also gave money — $250 – to Herman Cain’s campaign, but says she will not do it again now because she doesn’t think he can handle the “onslaught that will inevitably come during the General Election.”
She says she also plans to give money to candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who she wants to see stay in the race longer.
She gave no money to Texas Gov. Rick Perry because she says she doesn’t like his in-state tuition policy or how he reacted to the controversy over the rock that was painted with a derogatory term at his family’s Texas ranch.