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2010's Super Tuesday: Who Had the Better Spin?

Rand Paul
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul raises his arms to the cheers of supporters at his victory party in Bowling Green, Ky., Tuesday, May 18, 2010. At left is Paul's son William. At right is his wife Kelley and sons Duncan, top, and Robert. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke) AP

Once all the ballots are cast and votes are counted, the next best game in politics is just starting -- comparing the spin. 

That is, who spins their side's outcome the best; who successfully frames the election outcomes hoping others see silver linings and half-full glasses of water.

Let's start in Kentucky, where Tea Party backed Rand Paul decidedly beat the GOP establishment candidate, Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Grayson was recruited to run by Kentucky's Senior Senator and the Senate Minority leader in Washington, Mitch McConnell.

In a three sentence statement, McConnell vowed support for Paul and in equal space, bashed the Obama administration: "Dr. Paul ran an outstanding campaign which clearly struck a chord with Kentucky voters and I congratulate him on his impressive victory. Now Kentucky republicans will unite in standing against the overreaching policies of the Obama Administration. We are spiraling further into unsustainable debt and Kentucky needs Rand Paul in the U.S. Senate because he will work every day to stop this crippling agenda."

Rand Paul to Dems: Please Bring Obama to Kentucky
Paul: Tea Party Ready to "Flex Some Muscle"

Sen. John Cornyn, the head of the GOP's Senate campaign committee who also supported Grayson, put out a 5-paragraph statement, again equally split among praise for Paul and, this time, harsh words for the Democratic primary winner, Jack Conway.

"Voters in the Bluegrass State deserve a real leader who will work tirelessly for their best interests - not another rubberstamp for President Obama's liberal spending agenda. That's why I am confident that we will keep this seat in Republican control and Kentuckians will elect Rand Paul as their next U.S. Senator this November," wrote Cornyn.

For their take, the Democrats also took part in bashing their general election opponents as their candidate celebrated victory. Sen. Robert Menendez of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said this:

"Rand Paul would abolish the Department of Education, would disband the Federal Reserve, and would end farm subsidies for Kentucky's farmers. Rand Paul may love the national media spotlight but he has shown no interest in growing Kentucky's economy or creating new jobs. The people of Kentucky deserve a United States Senator who will fight every day for the state's middle class - and that is Jack Conway."

Specter Falls in Pa. Dem Primary to Joe Sestak
Rand Paul Wins Kentucky GOP Primary
Mark Critz Defeats Tim Burns in Pennsylvania Special Election
Blanche Lincoln, Bill Halter Headed for Run-Off

Now onto the heated race on the Democratic side in Pennsylvania where Congressman Joe Sestak beat 5-term incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched parties to run in this primary.

Here's Menendez's statement on Specter, a member of his own party caucus and a key vote for the Obama administration:

"Congratulations to Joe Sestak on winning a hard-fought primary. Both Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak deserve credit for waging thoughtful, spirited campaigns. I have tremendous respect for Arlen, who has been a loyal member of the Democratic caucus. With his support, Democrats passed landmark health care reform, a jobs package, and of course the Economic Recovery Act, which saved the nation from an economic abyss."


In other words, Thank you Mr. Specter, but now on to opponent bashing from Menendez:

"This November, Pennsylvania voters will face a choice between a Democrat who is focused on creating jobs and the needs of the middle class, and an extreme right-winger who made his profits trading derivatives on Wall Street."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took a similar tone, without any Republican bashing:

"I am extremely grateful to Senator Specter for his career of service to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and to our nation.... We will wholeheartedly support Congressman Sestak as the Democratic nominee, and we look forward to working with him in the 112th Congress as the junior Senator from Pennsylvania."

The head of the Republican Party, Michael Steele went after Specter's backers in the White House: "Arlen Specter's defeat tonight is yet another blow to President Obama and his vaunted political operation. Like fellow Democrats before him, Arlen Specter's loss should strike fear in the hearts of Congressional Democrats who choose to embrace the President's reckless liberal agenda despite the clear objections of their constituents because they thought the White House could bail them out."

Joe Sestak: "I Stood Up to My Party"

In the hotly contested special election to fill the Congressional seat held by the late John Murtha in Western Pennsylvania, Democrat Mark Critz beat Republican Tim Burns. Here, the Republicans are highlighting their silver lining.

"This hard-fought race gave us an early preview of what Democrats will attempt to do in the fall in order to survive. They will steer clear of publicly campaigning with President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, distance themselves from the Democratic agenda, and attempt to co-opt Republican positions on the issues," said Rep. Pete Sessions, the head of the GOP's congressional campaign committee.

With their win there, the Democrats get the last word in spin. Here's the Dem's campaign committee boss Rep. Chris Van Hollen from his mostly positive statement: "This was the only race in the country today where a Democrat faced off against a Republican and the results are clear. Mark Critz focused on creating jobs for middle class families, while Republicans practiced the politics of fear and distortion."

House Republicans: "We've Got a Lot of Work To Do"

As I said, mostly positive. With many states' primaries still to come, and a few special elections for vacant House seats thrown into the mix, and then of course the midterms in November, there'll be many more campaign and elections this year. 

One thing is for certain: elections only guarantee more elections, and as you can tell from the spin tonight, there's no time to rest after winning a primary, because the spin never stops.

More Analysis:

The Surprises From Tuesday's Primaries
Specter's Loss Goes Beyond Anti-Incumbent Mood
Where do Tuesday's Winners Go from Here?

Robert Hendin is a CBS News White House producer. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.
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