Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain, said Sunday that Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party star who won the Delaware GOP Senate nomination, is a "nutjob" who is "making a mockery of running for public office."
"I speak as a 26-year-old woman," McCain said on ABC's "This Week." "And my problem is that, no matter what, Christine O'Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office. She has no real history, no real success in any kind of business. And what that sends to my generation is, one day, you can just wake up and run for Senate, no matter how [much] lack of experience you have."
The election of O'Donnell, who burst onto the national scene by coming from nowhere to upset longtime Republican Rep. Mike Castle in the party's primary, was followed quickly by disclosures that she once admitted she had "dabbled in witchcraft
," by a 1996 videotape in which she denounced masturbation
, and by stories about her personal financial problems.
"It just turns people off, because she's seen as a nutjob," McCain said.
McCain has quickly made a reputation for being outspoken, writing in her blog on the Daily Beast
that sharp-tongued conservative Ann Coulter was bad for Republicans because she represented "the most extreme side" of the party. Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker said of McCain
that if she "doesn't make it in journalism, she has a future in marketing. She has learned, perhaps from a lifetime of observing political strategy, how and when to pick a fight."
Veteran political consultant and analyst Matthew Dowd, a top strategist in former President George W. Bush's 2004 campaign, said on the same program: "If you're wanting to win, Christine O'Donnell does not help that cause. Any time you run an ad that says 'I am not [a] witch,' you know you've got problems in a campaign, even if it's Halloween this month."
O'Donnell Camp Responds to Meghan McCain's 'Nutjob' Comment
"It's not helpful that she got nominated, but she is evidence that that [the anti-Democratic tide] is not going away," Dowd said. "And the only party benefiting from this in this year's election is the Republican Party, which is probably why they will take the House back, which is why they'll probably gain seven or eight seats in the Senate, even if they lose Delaware, because they have the passion and enthusiasm behind them."
"In the middle of a time when the country is so angry at Washington, they don't want the Democrats, they turn to candidates that are so outside that many of those candidates are either nuts or are somewhat off or not competent," he added.
In an interview on the program, O'Donnell's opponent, Democrat Chris Coons, said that Castle would have been the tougher opponent. Asked if he was glad that O'Donnell had beat Castle, Coons said, "Obviously, I went from being significantly down to significantly up in the polls, so just from an outside-in view, it's a positive in terms of my chances in the election. But I don't think it's been positive for Delaware. There's been a huge amount of attention paid to things that aren't directly connected to what matters to Delaware."
O'Donnell told ABC interviewer Christiane Amanpour that she's not getting any help from the state or national Republican parties, whose establishment made a big push on behalf of Castle in the last weeks before the primary.
"The state party isn't helping us," she said. "And we're asking the national Republican senatorial to help us. We've got the Democratic senatorial committee coming after me. We're hoping that the National Republican Senatorial Committee will help us. But it's two-and-a-half weeks left, and they're not."