Christine O'Donnell: 'Rove's Style of Machiavellian, Unprincipled Realpolitik Destroyed Republican Brand'
NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly a year after she won a stunning primary victory in a U.S. Senate race and drew nationwide attention for her controversial statements, conservative activist Christine O'Donnell chastises adversaries in a new book for undermining her campaign, while admitting errors in her own decision-making.
The Delaware Republican uses the book to address what she calls "my lowest moment of the 2010 campaign" — a commercial in which she assured voters, "I am not a witch."
She says she never wanted to make the ad — which was prompted by questions about a statement she had made on a late-night talk show years earlier — and was surprised when it showed up on the Internet. She blames an insistent media consultant but also her own inability to put her foot down.
"It was a wrong-headed move, made for all the wrong reasons, but it was mine," O'Donnell writes in "Troublemaker: Let's Do What It Takes to Make America Great Again." The book is scheduled to go on sale Aug. 16. The Associated Press purchased a copy on Thursday.
The media consultant, Fred Davis, said Thursday in an e-mail to the AP: "I wish her well with her book, and her future. That was a very unusual campaign."
While O'Donnell claims the witch ad was leaked before she had seen or approved it, e-mails obtained by the AP on Thursday show that the campaign had approved the ad and planned to post it on YouTube the same morning it was to begin airing on television.
"Solid message Fred," campaign manager Matt Moran wrote to Davis, with a copy to O'Donnell, just hours before the ad hit the Internet.
Moran told the AP on Thursday that he disagreed with Davis at the time on media strategy, wanting ads targeting O'Donnell's Democratic opponent, and that his email praising Davis for his work on the witch ad was partially sarcastic.
"It was very chaotic. We only had only one ad in the can," Moran said, explaining that media time had already been bought and that the campaign had to run something.
O'Donnell reserves her harshest criticism in the book for other Republicans. She accuses former Rep. Mike Castle, whom she upset in last year's primary, of being so bent on preserving the political status quo that he asked O'Donnell's supporters not to raise money for her in an earlier Senate race against Democrat Joe Biden.
"This type of strong-arm politics was to be expected, I guess, but to be undermined by my own party? It was maddening," writes O'Donnell, whose 2010 candidacy was backed by tea party enthusiasts, despite opposition from Republican Party leaders.
Castle denied pressuring people not to raise funds for her. "I've not even heard that one before. ... It's a wholly inaccurate statement," he said.
O'Donnell also blasts former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove for betraying Republican values for political gain, including opposing her candidacy in favor of Castle, a political moderate.
Rove was one of the leaders of the "liberal influences" that "severely tarnished Bush's legacy among true Constitutionalists," O'Donnell writes. "It was Karl Rove's style of Machiavellian, unprincipled realpolitik that destroyed the Republican brand."
Rove did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
After O'Donnell won the GOP primary, she became the target of jokes and criticism for comments she had made in television appearances years earlier, including a confession on a 1999 late-night talk show that she had "dabbled" in witchcraft as a teenager.
Soon after, she hired Davis to produce ads for her campaign, based on the recommendation of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. O'Donnell writes that Davis pushed her to film the "I am not a witch," commercial, even though she made clear she was deeply uncomfortable with the idea. Even then, she says, she never intended to use the ad. According to O'Donnell, her hand was forced only when the ad was leaked and posted on the Internet.
Associated Press writer Randall Chase in Dover, Del., contributed to this report.