The morning after her upset win in the Delaware Republican primary, Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell had nothing but praise for Sarah Palin, who had endorsed her candidacy — and undisguised contempt for the Republican Party establishment and particularly for former White House adviser Karl Rove.
When ABC’s George Stephanopoulos tried to ask O’Donnell about questions that had been raised during the campaign about her education and finances, and which were repeated by Rove on Tuesday night, she responded by claiming, “He’s eating some humble pie, and he’s just trying to restore his reputation.”
Blaming “the politics of destruction” for the personal attacks against her, O’Donnell told Stephanopoulos, “I wanted to make this race about the issues, how we’re going to get jobs back in Delaware, how we’re going to defend the homeland of our security.”
“The national Republican Party is not going to give you any funds,” Stephanopoulos noted.
“That’s a shame,’ O’Donnell replied, “but they never thought that I can win this race and I believe that we can win without them. … We proved the so-called experts wrong, so I think that a few of them perhaps may have their pride hurt this morning.”
Stephanopoulos responded by pointing out that Delaware GOP Chairman Tom Ross recently stated that O’Donnell was “not a viable candidate” and “could not be elected dog catcher.” He then played a clip of Rove asking on Fox News, “Why did she mislead voters about her college education? How come it took her nearly two decades to pay her college bills so she could get her college degree? How does she make a living? Why did she sue a well-known and well thought of conservative think-tank?”
O’Donnell has been dogged on the campaign trail by questions about why it took her twelve years after completing college to receive her degree, her claims to have been taking graduate classes at Princeton in 2003 despite not having a undergraduate degree, and why she reported only $5,800 in taxable income to the IRS last year. Last week, the conservative Weekly Standard revealed new details about her lawsuit against the Intercollegiate Studies Institute for “gender discrimination” and “mental anguish.”
O’Donnell, who had been laughing throughout Stephanopoulos’s questions, did not answer Rove’s charges directly but simply insisted, “Everything that he’s saying is unfactual. And it’s a shame, because he’s the same so-called political guru that predicted I wasn’t going to win. … He’s eating some humble pie, and he’s just trying to restore his reputation.”
“When we started gaining momentum and we started gaining credibility in this race, it made the Republican establishment look like lazy people who did not care about their principles,” O’Donnell continued. “I was ahead in the general election according to Rasmussen before this Republican cannibalism started. … So if they were serious about winning, we could repair the damage done and move forward.”
O’Donnell was apparently referring to a July 12 Rasmussen poll, conducted when voters were still unfamiliar with her record, that showed her besting potential Democratic nominee Chris Coons by 41% to 39%.
As voters have become more familiar with O’Donnell’s background and positions, however, she has increasingly fallen behind. An August Rasmussen survey showed her trailing Coons by ten points among likely voters, and by last week Coon was leading her by 47% to 36%.
The latest PPP poll now shows Coons ahead by 50% to 34%, with only 31% of Delaware voters believing O’Donnell is fit to hold public office. “The result of the Delaware primary last night is the best thing that has happened to Democrats electorally since election night in 2008,” PPP’s Tom Jensen concludes.
This video is from ABC’s Good Morning America, broadcast Sept. 15, 2010.