O’Donnell laughs off witchcraft comment

  • Sun Sep 19th, 2010 7:52pm
  • News

By Randall Chase Associated Press

LINCOLN, Del. Republican Senate candidate Christine ODonnell is making light of comments she made more than a decade ago when she was in high school about having dabbled in witchcraft.

How many of you didnt hang out with questionable folks in high school? she asked fellow Republicans at a GOP picnic in southern Delaware today.

Theres been no witchcraft since. If there was, Karl Rove would be a supporter now, ODonnell jokingly assured the crowd.

Rove, the former GOP strategist and adviser to President George W. Bush, has suggested that ODonnells win in last weeks GOP primary cost Republicans a chance to retake the Senate seat long held by Democrat Joe Biden before he was elected vice president.

ODonnell, a conservative Christian activist, rode a surging tide of tea party activism to an upset victory over GOP moderate Michael Castle, Delawares longtime congressman and former two-term governor. She faces Democratic county executive Chris Coons in November.

ODonnells comments about witchcraft were made during a 1999 taping of comedian Bill Mahers Politically Incorrect show.

I dabbled into witchcraft. I never joined a coven, she said on the show, a clip of which hit the Internet as ODonnell canceled appearances today on two national news shows, citing commitments to attend church and the GOP picnic in Delaware.

I hung around people who were doing these things. Im not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do, ODonnell told Maher.

One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didnt know it. I mean, theres 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.

Russ Murphy, executive director of the 9-12 Delaware Patriots, a group that joined in the tea party effort to propel ODonnell to Tuesdays primary victory, said the focus on her comments about witchcraft was just another attempt by pundits and political opponents to discredit her.

Theyre going to be pulling for straws from the sky to do anything to stop this momentum, and they dont realize its not going to work, he said.

ODonnells victory in the primary came after a bruising campaign in which her supporters and Castles, led by state GOP chairman Tom Ross, traded attack ads, with Ross saying ODonnell was a liar and a fraud who couldnt be elected dogcatcher.

Ross did not attend todays Sussex County Republican Committee picnic. Sussex County GOP chairman Ron Sams said Ross was in Washington trying to drum up support from the national GOP campaign committees.

Despite her improbable primary victory, ODonnell sounded upbeat about her chances in November.

Were going to win this by uniting the party, she told supporters. Im very confident that were going to win this election.