Tea Party Sets Sights On Delaware

After big wins in the Utah, Nevada and Alaska primaries, the tea party hopes candidate Christine O'Donnell can pick up the Republican Senate nomination in Delaware. Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express shares why she backs O'Donnell, and Del. Republican Chairman Tom Russ explains why candidate Mike Castle is right for the job.

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JENNIFER LUDDEN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jennifer Ludden in Washington. Neal Conan is away.

The mayor calls it quits in Chicago, a phoenix rises in Alaska, and the Tea Party eyes the first state for its next victory. It's Wednesday and time for a resurgent edition of the Political Junkie.

President RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

Former Vice President WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad. Where's the beef?

Former Senator BARRY GOLDWATER (Republican, Arizona): Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

Former Senator LLOYD BENTSEN (Democrat, Texas): Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

President RICHARD NIXON: You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore.

Former Governor SARAH PALIN (Republican, Alaska): Lipstick.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: But I'm the decider.

(Soundbite of scream)

LUDDEN: Every Wednesday, NPR political editor Ken Rudin joins us to talk about the week in politics, and today we have a lot of twists and turns to sort through.

The last big round of primaries is almost here, more signs that Sarah Palin might run for president, and another possible 2012 contender, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, slights that state's Republican senator.

In a bit, we'll dig into the Delaware Republican primary, the next target for the Tea Party Express, but first, political junkie Ken Rudin joins us here in Studio 3A, and as usual, we start with a trivia question.

KEN RUDIN: Hi, Jennifer. Okay, well, let's see. Obviously, we're going to focus on the Delaware Senate race. This year, Mike Castle is running for the Senate. He's the congressman there. He's currently the state's only congressman, and he's also served as governor.

Similarly, if San Brownback is elected governor of Kansas this year, he too will have served in all three positions. He was a congressman, he's a senator, and he'll be governor.

Question: Who is the most recent person who was elected to all three of these positions?

LUDDEN: Okay, if you know the answer, you are a political junkie, too. Call us in Washington at 900-989-8255. Or you can email us, talk@npr.org.

RUDIN: The last person, just to reiterate, reiterate, as Neal always does.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: The last person elected to the Senate, governor and the House. Okay.

LUDDEN: All right. Ken, let's start with yesterday's bombshell out of Chicago. Richard Daley has been known as Chicago's mayor for life, but now he's saying he won't run for a seventh term. Are you surprised?

RUDIN: No. Actually, this is exactly the quote I saw. Some people say are you surprised? And he said no, I'm shocked. I mean, for the long - look, we do know that had he served beyond December 25th of this year, he will break his father's record of the longest-serving mayor in Chicago history.

But everybody thought that he would run again in the February 2011 elections. His poll numbers, while not as good as they had been, and of course, he has won the last, he was first elected in 1989. His last three elections, he got over 70 percent of the vote. But his numbers have gone down.

There are hiring scandals in Chicago. There is some corruption. But I think by all accounts, Chicago is a much better place since he was first elected in '89, you know, than it was before.

So he's done really considered a good job. Time magazine once said that of all the big-city mayors, he is the best, the most effective, but his numbers are down.

The first time we got an inkling of some kind of a change was back I guess in April, when Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, talked about, well, you know, my real dream job is to be mayor of Chicago. And then you wondered whether Daley would run again. But the whole - the announcement yesterday was a big surprise.

LUDDEN: Well, there is a lot of speculation that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will attempt to replace Mayor Daley. That's being fed by what Emanuel himself said to Charlie Rose in April of this year.

Mr. RAHM EMANUEL (White House Chief of Staff): First of all, let me say it this way: I hope Mayor Daley seeks reelection. I will work and support him if he seeks reelection. But if Mayor Daley doesn't, one day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago. That's always been an aspiration of mine, even when I was in the House of Representatives.

LUDDEN: So does anyone think he will?

RUDIN: Well, he certainly has the opportunity. I mean, he said he would not run against Daley, and of course, Daley is not going to run again. There are other strong candidates. The Cook County sheriff, Tom Dart, is considered perhaps another very strong candidate.

But here's the thing. There's always a thought that there might be some changes in the White House after November 2nd, especially if the Republicans pick up a sizable number of House and Senate seats and gubernatorial seats, which still looks likely some 55 days out before the election.

So one of the casualties, or one of the departures, could have been, may have been, thought to be, was Rahm Emanuel. Whether he walks in, waltzes into the Chicago City Hall is a good question because he is not the most beloved person, shall we say. And, you know, he's a kind of a tyrannical figure. He's...

LUDDEN: In Chicago, you mean.

RUDIN: In Chicago. You know, he probably was at his worst when he was a member of the House because he was just one of 435, and of course, as mayor of Chicago, you're one of one. It's a very powerful mayoralty. But again, it won't be a cakewalk.

LUDDEN: But he's got to decide, right? He's got to decide by mid-November.

RUDIN: Mid-November. Actually, the Washington Post said November 15th. The Times said November 30th. Whatever it is, it is a November deadline to get on the February 22nd ballot, and the guessing is, is that Emanuel does it, does it, yes.

LUDDEN: Okay. All right. Let's go to Alaska. Senator Lisa Murkowski had conceded the Republican primary there to her rival, Joe Miller, who was backed by the Tea Party Express. Now it sounds, though, like Murkowski might have a plan B?

RUDIN: Well, she did say, she did say that - first of all, she said I'm not a quitter. And a lot of us wondered whether that meant she's going to still try to keep her seat, or she was trying to give a little jab at Sarah Palin, who of course everybody is reminded was a quitter by leaving the governorship because there is a rivalry, as you know, between the Murkowski family and Sarah Palin.

But she did say that she's not - a lot of her supporters do not want her to, you know, to drop out of the race completely. There is an opportunity perhaps as the Libertarian candidate.

There's a guy by the name of David Haase, who Lisa Murkowski met with yesterday, and while the Libertarian Party, and Lisa Murkowski, the views of the two are not exactly in synch - Lisa Murkowski's more of an establishment Republican, far less Libertarian than some Libertarians would like - there is an opportunity, they think, for her if she wanted to keep her seat or at least an attempt to keep her seat would be for David Haase to drop out and then Lisa Murkowski taking his place.

She has, or Haase has, until September 15th to withdraw as a candidate, and then of course the party has to accept her, and that's still to be determined.

But look, she may not do this at all. She could run as a write-in. But obviously, she's still very bitter about the surprise loss to Joe Miller.

LUDDEN: Okay, we're going to go to your trivia answers in just a moment. If you think you know the answer to Ken's trivia question, call us, 800-989-8255.

Sarah Palin is raising some eyebrows with some of the endorsements that she's making. Do tea leaves point to a presidential bid these days?

RUDIN: Is that a little joke, tea leaves? Well, you know, we don't know that. And the reason we don't know that is because, you know, take a state like Maryland.

She's backing a guy, a businessman by the name of Brian Murphy in next Tuesday's primary against Bob Ehrlich, by all accounts will be the Republican nominee for governor. He's the former governor, defeated four years ago. Nobody ever heard of Brian Murphy until she endorsed him.

But then she goes into states like Iowa and New Hampshire, and she backs basically the establishment figure. She backed Terry Branstad, the former governor in Iowa, who had a much more conservative opponent. She's backing Kelly Ayotte, the former state attorney general in New Hampshire in next Tuesday's primary, who has a more conservative opponent in the primary.

And yet in other states, like, you know, for example - and she backed Carly Fiorina in California when she had a more conservative opponent, too. But she did back Nikki Haley in South Carolina, who is very conservative. She of course backed Joe Miller in Alaska, who is very conservative.

She seems to be all over the map, somewhat all over the map, with her endorsements, and we're trying to get, as you say, some tea leaves out of it, but it's hard to decipher exactly what she's doing.

LUDDEN: All right, let's take a pause here and see if we have any answers to your trivia question. Casey's(ph) in Cleveland, Ohio. Hi, there.

CASEY (Caller): Hi. I'm not positive if he ever served in the House, but I'm going to try Senator Voinovich.

RUDIN: Well, your answer is exactly right in that Voinovich never did serve in the House. He was governor, he is a senator, but he never ran for Congress - he never ran for the House.

LUDDEN: Oh well.

CASEY: That's worth two sleeves of the shirt, though.

RUDIN: Two out of three, right.

LUDDEN: You're almost there. Thanks so much, Casey. Let's see here. Laura, Free Union, Virginia. Hi there.

LAURA (Caller): Hello.

LUDDEN: So who's your guess?

LAURA: Well, I think I have the same problem, but I got all excited. I think it's George Allen from Virginia.

LUDDEN: Uh oh. Ken has a stunned look on his face.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LAURA: I'm not sure if he was in the House.

RUDIN: He was in the House.

LAURA: He was?

RUDIN: He was in the House.

LAURA: Well, he was definitely a senator and a governor.

RUDIN: And he was senator and governor, and...

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of humming the "Jeopardy" theme)

RUDIN: And I think - well, you know something? George Allen is tied with the answer I was thinking of.

LUDDEN: Oh, Laura, you stumped...

RUDIN: I forgot about - George Allen served for one term in the House. A member of Congress died. He won a special election. Then they abolished the seat, but he was elected governor and to the Senate. George Allen...

LUDDEN: I think Laura gets a special nod for that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: Can you see how red I am on the radio right now because I forgot about George Allen? George Allen is a correct answer.

LAURA: Yay.

LUDDEN: Okay, Laura, thank you so much.

LAURA: Thank you.

LUDDEN: So I think I need to put you on hold, and we'll get all your details for a no-prize T-shirt or something like that.

RUDIN: You know, I never liked Laura. I never liked or cared for her that much.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LUDDEN: Okay, let me put you on hold there.

Ken, let me go back to some more round-up here. We've got a number of other primary races coming up.

RUDIN: Before - the person I was thinking of, the other answer was Tom Carper, who is also from Delaware, House, governor and elected to the Senate in 2000. But so was George Allen. So there you go. Okay.

LUDDEN: That's a banner day. We stumped the political junkie. Give us a rundown of some of the other big races coming up on - Tuesday is kind of - there's a -it's kind of the last big primary.

RUDIN: It is. I mean, you do have Hawaii on September 18th, but next Tuesday the 14th is the big one. You have two governors - two governors. You have two Republicans running for the gubernatorial race in Wisconsin, where Jim Doyle, the Democrat, is not running again.

You have Charlie Rangel, who has been in Congress since 1066 - no, that's not true. But in 1970, he defeated Adam Clayton Powell for the nomination because of a scandal, an ethics scandal, because Powell now, Powell's son, Adam Clayton Powell IV is coming back to try to beat Rangel, who has 13 ethics counts against his race in New York's 15th Congressional District.

Of course, you have the Republican primary in Delaware, which we'll talk about later. You have primaries in New Hampshire, as well. Kelly Ayotte, the state attorney general, the former state attorney general, had long been the frontrunner, but now she's in a tough race. That's for the Senate seat that Judd Gregg is giving up.

LUDDEN: Now Louisiana's Republican Governor Bobby Jindal is refusing to endorse the Republican senator in that state, David Vitter, who is running for reelection.

RUDIN: So first of all, David Vitter of course got nationally known when his phone number appeared on the D.C. Madam's prostitution-ring phone list.

On Sunday, Bobby Jindal said he has no intention of getting involved in the race, and everybody took that as a snub for Ritter(ph) - Vitter. Perhaps Jindal has White House ideas, you know, ideas of running for the White House and wants to distance himself from Vitter.

But he did say yesterday that - he said, his spokesman said: He hasn't made a decision yet. There's still the possibility of an endorsement.

LUDDEN: Okay. NPR political editor Ken Rudin is going to stick around with us here in Studio 3A. Let's also have a shout-out to Dan(ph) in Delaware, who did your - the trivia answer you had in mind, who was again...

RUDIN: Tom Carper. I always liked Dan more than Laura.

LUDDEN: Okay.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LUDDEN: Ken Rudin continues. We want to hear also from voters in Delaware because we're going to be talking about the Senate race there, where the Tea Party Express hopes to strike again.

How is this race between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party playing out? Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255, or email us, talk@npr.org. I'm Jennifer Ludden, it's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

LUDDEN: This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Jennifer Ludden.

Ken Rudin is here, as he is every Wednesday. He's NPR's political editor and our very own political junkie. You can check out his blog and download his podcast at npr.org/junkie.

And for the rest of the time today, we're going to talk about the upcoming primary in Delaware. That's where, on Tuesday, the Tea Party hopes for its next big primary win.

There's a showdown for the GOP Senate nomination. Mike Castle is that state's current congressman. He's running against Christine O'Donnell, a former marketing executive and now the Tea Party's choice for the Republican nomination.

We want to hear from Republican voters in Delaware. What do you think about the candidates in this race between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party? Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255. You can also send us an email. The address is talk@npr.org.

In a bit, we'll be joined by Delaware state Republican Party Chair Tom Russ, who supports Congressman Mike Castle. But now, we're joined in Studio 3A by Amy Kremer. She's the director of grassroots and coalitions for the Tea Party Express and was a keynote speaker at the Tea Party convention earlier this year in Nashville. She's just arrived in Washington from Dominican Republic, where she was campaigning for Christine O'Donnell. Welcome.

Ms. AMY KREMER (Tea Party Express): Thank you for having me.

LUDDEN: Before we get into Delaware, can we just go back a little bit to Alaska, where I understand you spent about eight weeks earlier this year...

Ms. KREMER: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LUDDEN: ...campaigning for Joe Miller, who managed to have a very surprise upset over the incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski there? Now, there are suggestions that possibly Senator Murkowski might have a Libertarian Party bid to try and keep her seat. What do you think about that?

Ms. KREMER: Well, you guys were talking about it, and she said she's not a quitter, and I agree. She's not a quitter. She was fired by the people of Alaska. They said it was time for her to go, and they've chosen somebody else to be the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate there.

LUDDEN: You're not worried?

Ms. KREMER: You know, no, I'm not worried. I mean, this is exactly what we're fighting in Washington, these politicians that come here and they're more concerned with their own political career and maintaining their status and being a member of the good-old-boy network than representing their constituents back home. So I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised at all.

LUDDEN: Okay, moving back east to Delaware, where you're now spending lots of time with another surprise candidate here, contender Christine O'Donnell. Why should she be Delaware's next senator?

Ms. KREMER: Well, that's a decision for the people of Delaware to make, and they will make that decision next week, on Tuesday, their primary day. We have jumped into this race in support of Christine O'Donnell, endorsed her because we feel like that she is the common sense conservative that represents the change that we need in this country right now.

This movement is sweeping the country, and it's about the spending. I mean, we cannot sustain this out-of-control spending, and we feel like that Christine O'Donnell is the one that is more conservative on the spending, and that's why we've endorsed her.

RUDIN: Amy, just let me say one thing about Christine O'Donnell, just to be fair. You're talking about Lisa Murkowski not accepting the will of the voters. When Christine O'Donnell ran for the Senate in Delaware in 2006, she lost the Republican nomination and also ran as a write-in candidate in November, after the voters rejected her. So in fairness, both have done this kind of bit.

But here's the thing I wanted - the point I want to raise is that in Alaska, it's one thing. It's a conservative state, a Republican state. Replacing Joe Miller - replacing Lisa Murkowski with Joe Miller, the Republicans still keep the control of that seat.

Delaware is a much different state, a much more liberal state. You have - Joe Biden was in the Senate for - since '72. You have Tom Carper. You have a Democratic governor. Most polls show that Mike Castle will win the seat for the Republican Party, whereas Christine O'Donnell can't win it for the Republicans. Yet you'd rather have a conservative nominee who would lose in November, rather than a liberal Republican who could win in November?

Ms. KREMER: Well, first of all, I disagree with you that Christine O'Donnell can't win it. And I say let's go back to January, Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Who would have ever thought that a Republican would take a seat held by a Kennedy for over 40 years? We never thought it was possible.

That was a wake-up call about this movement and what is happening across America. Every seat right now is up for grabs, and anything can happen. And when you're saying that Delaware is a liberal state, that may be. I mean, Delaware may be a moderate-liberal state, but that doesn't mean that there is not mainstream Americans living there, and there are.

This is - you know, as I said, this is not about the social issues. Right now, our economy is in shambles. That's what everybody is focused on. This administration, Congress, everybody is focused on the economy. The American people are focused on the economy.

This is not about the social issues, and, you know, when people go to the polls, they have to determine themselves what's more important to them, the fiscal issues or the social issues. And that's what will determine their vote.

LUDDEN: Let's hear from someone in Delaware. We've got Gary(ph) on the line from Harrington, Delaware. Hi, Gary.

GARY (Caller): Hi. I'd like to make a comment to the lady who was just speaking.

LUDDEN: Yes, Ms. Amy Kremer.

GARY: Pardon?

LUDDEN: Go right ahead. It's Amy Kremer.

Ms. KREMER: Hello.

GARY: The - first of all, Delaware is actually pretty liberal north of the C & D Canal. South of the canal, it's much, much more conservative, in the farming area. I happen to live south of the canal and was Republican up until the last administration in Washington, and I just couldn't be a part of that party.

As far as the senators running this time, Mike Castle, having been governor and then congressman for how many years, 20-some years, I think does actually reflect more of the mood of the state than Christine O'Donnell could ever come close to reflecting.

LUDDEN: All right. Thanks, Gary. Amy, want to respond to that?

Ms. KREMER: Thank you, Gary. No, I mean, I respect - you know, he's a resident there, a citizen of the state, and I respect that. But as I said, you know, the people of Delaware will make their decision when they go to the polls next week.

And, you know, we cannot sustain this out-of-control spending. This movement is focused on fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets. And Mike Castle has, you know, he supports cap and trade. I mean, he's voted for TARP and bailouts and stimulus.

I mean, we just - we can't sustain this. And Christine O'Donnell, you know, opposes those things, and that is what the people are looking at right now. And what we're doing is we are educating the people on the issues and empowering them so that when they go to the polls, they'll make the right decision.

RUDIN: There's been a storyline advanced here that the Republican establishment never saw it coming in Alaska, and they're determined not to let it be repeated in Delaware. And that's why they've gone full-throttle against O'Donnell.

Ms. KREMER: They sure have.

RUDIN: And it's got nasty and personal. Is that the way you see the race?

Ms. KREMER: I do see the race, and what's interesting is they supported O'Donnell two years ago when she was running. I have news for the GOP in Delaware and the RNC and the NRSC: This seat does not belong to them. This seat belongs to the people of Delaware, and they should be able to make their choice in this decision.

And, you know, what's going to happen with the Republican Party of Delaware if Christine O'Donnell wins this primary? What's going to happen then come November? I mean, they need to focus their monies on the Democratic challenger in the Senate race and let this primary be worked out by the people of Delaware and then see how it all plays out.

LUDDEN: Let's take another call from Delaware. John(ph) is on the line from Georgetown. Hi, John.

JOHN (Caller): Hi.

LUDDEN: Go right ahead.

JOHN: Yeah, you know, Mike Castle has served Delaware very well. He's the moderate Republican, and the tenor of the election has gotten ugly on both sides. And Castle's moving to the right in response to Christine O'Donnell's strong support, particularly downstate. And Chris Coons is the real moderate. He's going to be the Democrat that the winner will be running against, and...

LUDDEN: But he is not as well-known as Mike Castle, and now Christine's getting a lot of attention for being, you know, an insurgent here. Do you think Chris Coons can carry it off?

JOHN: I think Chris Coons can carry it off, absolutely. He is a - I met both Mike Castle and Chris Coons, and they're both decent men, and Chris Coons is -it's his time.

LUDDEN: All right, thanks for calling. Can you tell us a bit about what is Christine O'Donnell's plan to turn around the economy?

Ms. KREMER: Well, I mean, Christine O'Donnell is a conservative. She wants to cut taxes and create jobs. I mean, she's against this out-of-control spending, and, you know, she wants to bring more jobs to Delaware and help the people of her state. And that is not something that we have seen from Mike Castle.

And I certainly appreciate these people calling in today. And as I said, I respect their opinion. I will tell you, though, we at Tea Party Express commissioned a poll just last week, and we were quite surprised by the numbers because when the numbers came back of the likely voters, Christine O'Donnell is only trailing by two points from Mike Castle, and that was quite surprising to us. She is actually farther ahead than we had expected when we endorsed her.

LUDDEN: Okay. Amy Kremer is the director of grassroots and coalitions for the Tea Party Express. She's been campaigning for candidate Christine O'Donnell in the Delaware Republican Senate primary and joined us here in the studio. Thank you so much.

Ms. KREMER: Thank you for having me.

LUDDEN: Joining us now is Tom Ross, and he's the chair of the Delaware Republican Party. He supports Congressman Mike Castle's bid to be that state's Republican nominee for Senate and joins us by phone from Delaware Republican headquarters in Wilmington. Welcome to you.

Mr. TOM ROSS (Delaware Republican Party): Hey, good to be with you.

LUDDEN: All right. So tell us, why should Delaware Republicans support Mike Castle as he tries to move from the House to the Senate?

Mr. ROSS: Well, it's a pretty big jump between the two candidates. First of all, you have someone in Mike Castle who has served the people of Delaware exceedingly well. He's been a governor, congressperson. But what's interesting with Castle is he's actually balanced budgets. He's created jobs. He served the state in a very honorable, decent fashion. He's respected by people in the Republican Party, across the political spectrum.

When you move over to Christine O'Donnell, you have a perennial candidate, and you know, to be frank, there really is no comparison. I found it really kind of interesting that Amy Kremer kept talking about how this is a decision for the people of Delaware. Well, let's take back - a step back and think about that. You've got a situation where you have a group from California that's coming to Delaware to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a candidate that they didn't even vet. They've admitted it in news reports this week. And they want to kind of circumvent the will of our grassroots delegates that nominated Congressman Castle to be our endorsed candidate.

And it's just kind of outrageous. It doesn't seem like they even really know the issues, but yet here they are coming to town to tell Delawareans what they ought to be doing.

LUDDEN: All right. (Unintelligible) we want to hear from Delawareans - first time I've heard that. Please call us if you live in Delaware. 800-989-8255. Or email us at talk@npr.org.

RUDIN: Tom, I have a question on the strategy here. Obviously the Lisa Murkowski strategy in Alaska was to sell the voters on her record, and obviously that didn't work because she was assaulted from the Tea Party folks.

Mike Castle, as you point out, has a long, distinguished record in Delaware, and yet for the most part what I'm hearing from you, like you said the other day, she could not be elected dog catcher. You said that she's not a viable candidate for any office in the state. It seems like there's a determination by the Republican Party in Delaware to go especially negative on O'Donnell rather than selling Mike Castle to the voters.

Mr. ROSS: Well, Mike Castle is a well-known quantity. He's very well respected in Delaware, but you know, it's a very interesting dynamic. You know, Christine has very little support in Delaware. And in our prior quarter, on our FCC report, she only had five donations from the state of Delaware - I mean five, for a Senate race. Her so-called rallies attract somewhere between 10 to 20 people. I mean, even with all the big brouhaha that the Tea Party Express was coming to town yesterday, they had 50 people to rally for a United States Senate candidate. There is not a lot of support for Christine in Delaware.

And essentially our plan, up until just recently, was let Christine go about her business, and you know, the voters of Delaware would decide this thing. And obviously we'd all move forward from there. But the campaign kind of took a very ugly turn about a week ago, when all of a sudden the Tea Party Express announced that they were going to get involved. And a couple of operatives that had been on O'Donnell's payroll came out and made just some scandalous gutter-type accusations against the congressman, saying that he was having a gay affair, blatantly lying about his record.

And as chairman of the Republican Party of Delaware, I have an obligation to the Republicans in the state to - at our convention, you know, Castle was selected and endorsed by grassroots delegates. I have an obligation to, one, defend our nominee, but two, when you have someone that's running the dirtiest campaign in the history of Delaware, I have an obligation to shine the light of day on that. And while that may not be too flattering to Ms. O'Donnell or her campaign, it's still the truth. And...

LUDDEN: Tom, let me just interrupt you briefly to say that you're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. And let's hear from someone in Delaware. Rick is on the line from Newark. Hi there, Rick.

RICK (Caller): Hi, how are you?

LUDDEN: Go right ahead.

RICK: Good. I just wanted to also indicate that I would support Mike Castle. I'm not particularly favorably disposed to Miss O'Donnell. However, for the Republican Party, I think the Republican Party has almost universally failed in Delaware to provide conservative alternatives to what in essence are Democratic lookalike candidates. And I think Mike Castle is certainly preferable to the Democratic alternative, but the Republican Party does not do a good job in Delaware providing a real choice for the people of Delaware.

LUDDEN: Rick, thanks for your call. Tom, you want to respond to that?

Mr. ROSS: Sure. We do have a very moderate party here in Delaware. I would urge the caller to take a good hard look at Colin Bonini, who's running for treasurer, someone that we work hand and glove with. He's been characterized as the most conservative person to serve in Dover in either the House or the Senate. And he has a great shot at being our next treasurer. And with the caller's support, I think we can get him to where he needs to be.

RUDIN: Tom, a quick question. Amy Kremer talked about this poll that has O'Donnell within two points of Mike Castle. What do you make of that? I have not seen any evidence that it's that close.

Mr. ROSS: You know, typically when you have those kind of polls that are released with the cross tabs and all the data, the one thing I do know that we've heard from the O'Donnell camp in the last week is that they were citing an old Rasmussen poll that showed she had a chance to run well against Chris Coons.

And then as the polling changed and when more recent polls were released, her camp essentially insinuated that Scott Rasmussen, who's a very well-respected pollster, was somehow on the take. They did the same thing with a conservative radio host, when they were asking some questions that Christine had a hard time answering - immediately she said, well - she insinuated that the host was on the take. There have been all kinds of wild claims.

It doesn't do my heart any good. You know, I'm not fond of going out and having to inform people of what's going on. But the bottom line is, is that this campaign, the O'Donnell campaign and the Tea Party Express, are engaged in some things that just don't seem to be accurate. And with them bringing this kind of out-of-state influence into Delaware, it's my job to let people know.

RUDIN: Tom, quick question. A lot of - there are a lot of new candidates running, first-time candidates - Mike Castle has been around for, you know, a gazillion years. It's hard to make the case that he's a new face for 2010.

Mr. ROSS: Well, you know, with Castle, he's certainly not a new face in Delaware in terms of his long, distinguished service to the state. But one of the things that grassroots Republicans recognize in Delaware is that Mike Castle works very hard for other Republican candidates.

LUDDEN: And Tom Ross, I'm so sorry, we've got to leave it there, but thank you so much. Tom Ross is the chair of the Delaware Republican Party, campaigning for Congressman Mike Castle in his bid for Senate.

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