In another sign that Christine O'Donnell's upset win in last night's Delaware Republican Senate primary has opened a schism in the conservative movement, talk show host Rush Limbaugh attacked Karl Rove on the air Wednesday for Rove's criticisms of the tea party-backed O'Donnell.
Rove's anger at O'Donnell on Fox News Tuesday night was likely the result of the former Bush strategist's belief that she will have a hard time winning in Delaware. But on Wednesday Limbaugh set aside that logic and went straight for Rove's jugular.
"Karl has admitted that one of his mistakes was not defending Bush against all of these insane, stupid, slanderous, libelous attacks against Bush for eight years," Limbaugh said. "But I've never heard ... Karl so animated against a Democrat as he was against Christine O'Donnell last night."
On Fox News, Rove criticized O'Donnell for "misleading voters about her education" and questioned how she made a living.
"You never ask these questions about Democrats," Limbaugh retorted on his radio show. He also criticized Rove for saying the GOP wouldn't be able to win Delaware in November as a result of O'Donnell's win.
"Yesterday she was down 25, today she is down 16. In some polls, she is only down 11," Limbaugh said.
The talk show host admitted that the whole situation indicates a split in the GOP. "There seems to be schism here, there seems to be a divide."
Limbaugh's anger at Rove comes a little more than a month after Rove guest-hosted Limbaugh's radio show.
That's the angle the White House ran with Wednesday as well, seizing on O'Donnell's win to paint the Republicans as disorganized and quarrelsome.
"There is no doubt — I don't think anyone would disagree — that the intra-party Republican anger has changed the complexion of a number of state and district races," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, as quoted at The Hill. He added that the disputes "make winning those races for Republicans a fundamentally harder task."
Some prominent Republicans have rallied to O'Donnell, most notably former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who slammed the "elite media" criticizing her and declared she is "electable." That's an apparent retort to the head of the Delaware GOP, who declared before the primary that O'Donnell "couldn't be elected dog catcher."
Evan McMorris-Santoro at TalkingPointsMemo reports that conservatives are furious about Rove's criticisms of O'Donnell.
"In one five-minute interview, it seems, Rove went from keeper of the conservative cause to the next Jane Hamsher in the eyes of those who are ostensibly his allies. It's a stunning turn against the man who has recast himself as a right-wing media darling since Bush left office," McMorris-Santoro writes.
This audio is from Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, broadcast Sept. 15, 2010 and uploaded by Media Matters.