Christine O’Donnell: National Media Appearances ‘Off the Table’

Sep 21, 2010 10:42pm

ABC News' Devin Dwyer reports:  Delaware GOP U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell broke her nearly week-long silence in the national news media Tuesday night in an appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity.” 

But “mama grizzly” O’Donnell, who has faced growing scrutiny over her personal finances and past statements on sexual and social values, said future network interviews were entirely “off the table.”

“I’m not going to do any more national media because Delaware is my focus and local media are my focus,” she said.

O’Donnell cancelled two scheduled appearances on Sunday morning talk shows last week to attend campaign events in Delaware.  She said the decision to ignore future national media requests was based on advice from Sarah Palin.

The tea party-backed O'Donnell dealt a stunning upset to GOP establishment candidate Rep. Mike Castle in the Sept. 14 primary, sparking a frenzy of national attention on her background that has consumed her candidacy in the days since.

She told Sean Hannity that many of her provocative past statements which have resurfaced in recent days do not reflect her current outlook and are intended as a distraction for her campaign. 

O'Donnell explained her 1999 comment on Bill Maher’s show “Politically Incorrect” that she had “dabbled in witchcraft” during high school as an act of “teenage rebellion.”

“Some people dabble in drugs to rebel.  That’s how I rebelled,” she said. “Who didn’t do some questionable things in high school?”

O’Donnell said her controversial comments on homosexuality, masturbation and condom use, some of which were made during television appearances in the 1990s, were personal views and wouldn’t play a role in her decision making process.

“What those statements are about is in my 20’s I had newfound faith and I looked at going on those shows as a ministry,” she said of her television appearances. “My faith has matured and now it’s the Constitution that will determine how I decide on what crosses my desk.”

O’Donnell also addressed allegations that she had improperly or illegally used campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and failed to pay her federal income taxes calling them unfounded political attacks.

“There’s no truth in that. I’ve paid my taxes,” she said. “They’re going after an erroneous tax lien which the IRS has admitted is a computer error.” 

O’Donnell explained that while she was being routinely audited by the IRS she received a letter indicating that the process would soon be complete.  But shortly thereafter, she said, “I got an erroneous tax lien. I called and they said ‘oops, it’s a computer error.’”  The lien has since been lifted.

O’Donnell acknowledged that she did have trouble keeping up with her mortgage payments in 2008, just before she ran for Senate against Joe Biden, because she worked “several months for free” for a client who had a feeding tube who could not afford to pay her.

“I fell behind in my mortgage,” she said. But when she joined the race against Biden, O’Donnell said she sold her house to “make all my bills right, paid off all my debt and made it through time.”

O’Donnell, a marketing consultant, said she is currently employed with one client, a non-profit local artist. 

With 42 days before the general election, O’Donnell said she wants to “unite the party” and is “holding out hope” that Castle will still endorse her.  The two spoke by phone on Friday.

“He congratulated me it was a friendly conversation,” she said.  “I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s only a week since election day. Hopefully he’ll come around.”

She also pressed national Republican leaders, including strategist Karl Rove, who has been harshly critical of O’Donnell, to support her.

"It’s hard for them to see how this is possible, but I hope they come around because I’d like to unite the party,” she said. 

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