Tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell who defeated former governor and veteran U.S. Rep Michael Castle in a bitter Republican primary Tuesday, met opponent Chris Coons at a standing-room only event that ushers in the fall campaign in a nationally watched U.S. Senate race. O’Donnell, who came under withering criticism from Castle and the state GOP — whose chairman said she couldn’t be elected dogcatcher — said her goal was for voters to get to know her between now and November. “It’s no secret that there’s been a rather unflattering portrait of me painted these days,” said O’Donnell, who was criticized by GOP officials for lying about her background, leaving a trail of unpaid bills that included an IRS tax lien and a mortgage default and misusing campaign contributions for personal expenses.
“I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have an opponent who wants to talk about the issues, so I thank you for that gentlemanly approach,” O’Donnell told Coons. But at one point, midway, when the moderator read an audience question to O’Donnell about her views on government and private sexual behavior, someone in the audience shouted: “It’s personal!” That drew a nod from O’Donnell. “Yes, I have my personal beliefs,” said O’Donnell, who stepped into the public spotlight in the 1990s as a conservative activist speaking out against abortion, homosexuality and premarital sex. For his part, Coons said Delaware residents are interested in what candidates will do to create jobs, reduce the national debt and fix what he called a broken political system in Washington.