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O'Donnell: Mike Castle Is "Hanging Himself"

O'Donnell: Mike Castle Is "Hanging Himself"

By Scott Conroy - September 13, 2010


On the verge of a potentially stunning victory over longtime moderate Republican Congressman Mike Castle in the GOP Delaware Senate primary, conservative activist Christine O'Donnell told RealClearPolitics on Monday that she was not concerned about the relentless volley of last-minute attacks she has faced from Castle's campaign and the Delaware Republican Party.

"My opponent's hanging himself on his own noose, so I'm not worried about it," O'Donnell said. "He's hanging himself. If you look at the polling trends, we started going up as soon as he started slinging mud, so he hasn't seen the writing on the wall that it hasn't worked yet, and the more he attacks the more it rallies people behind me."

Asked about a Weekly Standard story, touted to reporters by the Delaware GOP, which accused O'Donnell of falsely implying that she was taking master's degree classes from Princeton in the process of suing a conservative Delaware think tank for wrongfully terminating her, O'Donnell laughed off the question.

"Again, that's a clearly desperate attempt-one last gasping for breath before their campaign dies tomorrow-it's a joke," O'Donnell said. "The Delaware GOP sees that we're taking their power away. It's not about who's going to be in leadership, it's about who the people want in leadership, so they're scared. They're not just fighting for Mike Castle's political career, they're fighting for their political career."

O'Donnell added that her opponents were attacking her personally, since they could not impugn her small-government message.

"I mean there's no truth to that accusation you just read to me; that's the first I'm hearing about it, and it's pretty funny," O'Donnell said. "I sued my former employer, but that has no relevance in this race."

Asked what was untrue about the accusation, O'Donnell said, "You just said ‘lied under oath,' or something like that. I've never done that."

O'Donnell's campaign manager, Matt Moran, told The Hill on Sunday that it was his understanding that neither party involved in the lawsuit was supposed to talk publicly about the case.

Once considered a longshot candidate against Castle, the consensus GOP establishment pick, O'Donnell appears to have reaped substantial benefits from receiving the endorsement of Sarah Palin last week and has surged to a three-point lead in the latest Public Policy Polling survey of likely voters in Tuesday's primary.

Palin met O'Donnell at Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally last month, but O'Donnell said that she had not spoken to the former Alaska governor since then.

"I know that my team has been in touch with her team, but it's been such a whirlwind since the announcement," O'Donnell said. "I know she did a robocall for us that had a great blast here in Delaware over the weekend. It got people really excited. I know they're doing whatever they can in these last couple of days."

Though Palin's endorsement has almost certainly helped O'Donnell's chances in the GOP primary, its effect is more uncertain in a general election matchup against Democrat Chris Coons.

Still, O'Donnell told RealClearPolitics that she would welcome Palin to campaign for her if she becomes the party's nominee, in spite of potential concerns about the former Alaska governor's appeal to Delaware's socially progressive independent and Democratic voters.

"Well, schedule permitting, absolutely," O'Donnell said. "But I know that schedules are crazy. I'm not going to be disappointed if she can't. I do want to clarify that."

On Monday. Castle told MSNBC that if O'Donnell defeats him in Tuesday's primary, Republicans would "lose the election automatically" to Coons.

O'Donnell said that Castle's attacks were the mark of a desperate politician.

"We're winning, and my opponent is throwing everything he can think of, and the more he flings, the more desperate he looks," she said. "He looks very unstatesmanly."

Asked about polls showing that she would indeed be the weaker Republican candidate in a general election matchup, O'Donnell looked confidently ahead to November.

"Once we clear the primary, I'm going to go into the general election and meet all the independent and Democrat voters and give them the opportunity to get to know me and get to know my message," she said. "I'm running for U.S. Senate because I'm concerned about the direction of our country and that in order to get it back on track we have to get citizen politicians to replace the career politicians, and my Democratic opponent is just as much of a career politician, or is on that track. He's taking steps to become an entrenched career politician."

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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