Normally when polls suggest an officeseeker is badly trailing late in the season the opposition does its best to ignore him or her. However, the White House must feel that tea party candidate Christine O'Donnell's campaign has become such a national joke that picking on her won't matter.

During President Barack Obama's speech to a women's conference Tuesday, the presidential seal fell from the podium. A senior White House adviser joked Wednesday that "witchcraft" was the only explanation.

"You know we've been here almost two years, five hundred speeches probably, never happened before and I can only think of one thing... witchcraft," David Axelrod told CBS' David Letterman.

The remark was a reference to Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell. After O'Donnell's primary win in Delaware, HBO's Bill Maher released a 1999 clip of O'Donnell saying she had "dabbled" in witchcraft.

"I dabbled into witchcraft. I never joined a coven," she said. " ... I hung around people who were doing these things. I'm not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do," she said.

"... One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn't know it. I mean, there's little blood there and stuff like that," she said. "We went to a movie and then had a little midnight picnic on a satanic altar."

A poll released Wednesday showed O'Donnell down by 17 points.

A new poll shows Republican Christine O'Donnell badly trailing Democrat Chris Coons in a Delaware Senate race that Republicans were heavily favored to win until the tea party-backed O'Donnell pulled off an upset in the GOP primary last month.

The survey released Wednesday by Fairleigh Dickinson University-PublicMind found Coons leading O'Donnell 53 percent to 36 percent. It shows O'Donnell struggling within her own party, with only about two-thirds of Republicans saying they support her.

Axelrod also spent a little time talking about Fox News and potential Republican presidential candidates. USA Today reported:

Axelrod also got on Fox News, saying it and members of the conservative media are contributing to conspiracy theories surrounding Obama's birth place and other attacks. "It is no doubt promoted by our friends at Fox and others," Axelrod said.

As for Romney -- a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012 -- Axelrod said he is a former moderate who as Massachusetts governor signed a health care bill similar to the one enacted by Obama. Now, Axelrod said, Romney is "trying to cater to the right wing of that party, and I don't think that's a prescription for victory."

Axelrod also told Letterman he has "soft spot" for Palin, who has "her own special kind of charisma."

"I was at the vice presidential debate (in 2008)," Axelrod said. "And, you know, she winked at me."

The White House is making a bit of a gamble, considering O'Donnell's entire campaign has been based on insurgency against her party and entrenched politicians in DC. Much of the tea party movement subscribes to the "us vs. them" mentality, and the mocking of O'Donnell could earn her some sympathy votes.

This video is from CBS' Late Night with David Letterman, broadcast Oct. 6, 2010.