ABC News’ Rick Klein and Michael Falcone report:
Tuesday’s primary race in Delaware has drawn a late surge in national attention, with Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell gaining momentum with the endorsement of Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint.
National and many state-level Republicans fear that an O’Donnell victory would rob Republicans of a prime pick-up opportunity in a heavily Democratic state. The GOP establishment has rallied behind moderate Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del.
ABC’s Jonathan Karl caught up with both Castle and O’Donnell on Friday in Delaware, in interviews we highlighted on ABC/Washington Post’s “Top Line” on Monday.
Castle acknowledged that “this is not an easy election cycle,” but said “the polling looks fine, and I feel comfortable with that.”
According to a new poll released over the weekend by Public Policy Polling, the Republican primary is too close to call, but the survey revealed “a real possibility of a major upset.” O’Donnell was holding on to a three-point lead over Castle – 47 percent to 44 percent among likely Republican primary voters – which is within the poll’s margin of error.
Castle called the results of the GOP Senate primary in Alaska, where Tea Party and Sarah Palin-backed upstart Joe Miller defeated incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, “discouraging.” In a conversation with Castle after her primary defeat Murkowski urged the Delaware Republican not to hold back.
“Be careful, prepare yourself and go for it,” was her advice, according to Castle.
O’Donnell, who received Sarah Palin’s endorsement last week, accused her rival’s campaign of resorting to “desperate” tactics. (She has complained of being followed home by trackers sent by her opponents.)
“There’s a tidal wave coming here in Delaware and my campaign is riding it and my opponent is drowning in it,” O’Donnell said. “So, he’s doing any last-ditch effort to stay afloat.”
We’ll have more on the Delaware Senate race on “World News with Diane Sawyer.”
-Rick Klein and Michael Falcone