In a year when Tea Party candidates with radical positions have been staging upset victories in Republican primaries, Christine O'Donnell is one of those who, as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow put it on Tuesday, "simply freak out other Republicans."
O'Donnell, who is backed by the Tea Party Express, is running in next week's Delaware Senate primary against Rep. Mike Castle. Castle, a former governor, has been winning elections in Delaware by large margins since 1966, and in any normal year his victory would be assured. But this year, nothing can be taken for granted.
O'Donnell's views appear to be particularly extreme, even by Tea Party standards. In 1998, she told an MTV interviewer that masturbation is the same as adultery because "the Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can't masturbate without lust."
In an article written about the same time, the fiercely Catholic O'Donnell declared, "When a married person uses pornography, or is unfaithful, it compromises not just his (or her) purity, but also compromises the spouse's purity. As a church, we need to teach a higher standard than abstinence."
O'Donnell's character has also become an issue in the campaign. She recently told the Weekly Standard that she doesn't give out the location of her house because it was broken into and vandalized during the 2008 campaign -- even though there is no police report of any such incident.
"They’re following me," O'Donnell claimed. "They follow me home at night. I make sure that I come back to the townhouse and then we have our team come out and check all the bushes and check all the cars to make sure that—they follow me....They knock on the door at all hours of the night. They’re hiding in the bushes when I’m at candidate forums."
O'Donnell has recently run into further trouble for claiming that when she was the Republican candidate against Joe Biden in 2008 -- losing by 65% to 35% -- she actually won two out of the three counties in Delaware.
A conservative radio host asked her to explain what she'd meant by that remark, and O'Donnell's immediate response was, "I don't think I ever said [that]."
When confronted with audio, she went on to suggest, "What that probably was, you're on the campaign trail a lot. I mean tied. ... You have a tracker following you to trip up."
"You didn't tie him either," the interviewer insisted, at which O'Donnell exclaimed, "Oh, absolutely I did!"
"No, she didn't," Maddow commented. "She really didn't."
Maddow was joined by Talking Points Memo reporter Christina Bellantoni, who has been focusing on the O'Donnell candidacy. Bellantoni noted that in addition to the other controversies, there have been questions raised about O'Donnell's finances and whether money she is raising for her current campaign is being used to pay off campaign debt from 2008.
Bellantoni concluded, however, by pointing out that although Mike Castle is a moderate Republican who has succeeded in Delaware because of his ability to appeal to independents, his victory in this year's primary is not assured.
"There could be as few as 50,000 [Republican] voters coming out on Tuesday," Bellantoni observed. "Definitely, anything can happen."
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Sept. 7, 2010.