The White House on Wednesday singled out Christine O'Donnell's win in Delaware's Senate GOP primary as a chief example of intra-party strife within the Republican Party.

The Tea Party-backed O'Donnell pulled off a stunning upset by defeating nine-term centrist Rep. Mike Castle for the GOP's nomination to take Vice President Joe Biden's old seat. Republicans had viewed the seat as a prime pickup opportunity, but observers have dampened their expectations with O'Donnell as the nominee.


White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that officials like former Bush senior adviser Karl Rove and the state's Republican Party chairman could not foresee an O'Donnell victory over Democrat Chris Coons in November. 

"The Republicans in Delaware nominated someone they don't believe could win — that the party chairman said could not be elected dog catcher," he said during his daily press briefing. 

"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," Gibbs added, explaining that the disputes "makes winning those races for Republicans a fundamentally harder task."

Washington Republicans on Wednesday moved quickly to get behind O'Donnell's candidacy, but Gibbs's comments are a further sign that Democrats will continue to paint the victory as an example of the divisiveness that exists within the GOP that endangered the party's chances of taking the majority of the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) both announced they would donate money to O'Donnell, even though both originally favored Castle.

A senior Republican aide suggested that the White House should be more focused on the economy instead of GOP primary elections.

"It’s like a fraternity house over there," the aide said. "Don’t they care that people can’t find work?"

Party leaders had backed Castle, hoping that his long political career in the state and his centrist positions could win him the general election. But O'Donnell won running on a staunchly conservative platform and has been deeply critical of President Obama.

Gibbs said that the election was in no way a referendum on the White House and that voters could tell that O'Donnell is "outside the mainstream."

"I think there has been an anti-establishment mood in the electorate longer than we have been in the White House," he said. "I think last night — last night demonstrated in as clear as any way... we didn't play a role in last night's election. That was a very pointed intra-party squabble.

"There is a process that a party goes through after losing an election," Gibbs went on. "It is playing out, it is narrowing their map. It is providing our candidates with ... some very stark choices."