- Associated Press - Friday, October 15, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a rare bright spot on the campaign trail for President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.: a visit to Delaware to rally support for keeping Mr. Biden’s old Senate seat in Democratic hands.

With tea party-backed Republican Christine O’Donnell lagging badly in the polls against Democrat Chris Coons, the trip Friday could as much as anything serve as a chance for Mr. Obama to highlight Miss O’Donnell’s hard-line views and argue that she’s a symbol of a far-right GOP.

It is part of a busy campaign homestretch that will send Mr. Obama from coast to coast trying to raise money and generate enthusiasm for Democratic candidates trying to hold the party’s majorities in the House and Senate. He’s wrapping up the week with additional trips to Massachusetts and Ohio.

The Delaware race once was seen as a likely Republican pickup until Miss O’Donnell pulled off an upset in the GOP primary last month over Rep. Mike Castle, a moderate who had been heavily favored to win in November.

Miss O’Donnell’s campaign has since been dogged by questions about her background and evangelical views she espoused as a conservative television commentator. She has been parodied relentlessly over remarks she made years ago about dabbling in witchcraft as a teenager and opposing masturbation in a crusade against premarital sex.

Mr. Coons, a county executive, is welcoming Mr. Obama’s help in the Democratic-leaning state. Miss O’Donnell is criticizing the visit, saying it shows Mr. Coons would be a big-spending “rubber stamp” for the president’s policies.

Their race has drawn strong interest in part because it has exposed deep divisions between tea party supporters and the Republican establishment.

GOP leaders in Washington and Delaware criticized Miss O’Donnell in unusually strong terms before her win, accusing her of lying about her education and record, leaving a trail of debt that included tax liens and a default on her mortgage, and using campaign finances for personal expenses.

Tom Ross, the state GOP chairman, described Miss O’Donnell as a liar and fraud who couldn’t get elected dogcatcher.


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