msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/18/2010 11:16:07 PM ET 2010-09-19T03:16:07

Comedian Bill Maher is digging up clips of Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's past appearances on his shows, including one in which she says she "dabbled into witchcraft."

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On HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," a clip was shown from 1999 of O'Donnell saying one of her first dates was with a witch at a satanic altar.

The context of what led to the comment is not clear and O'Donnell is laughing while she talks about witchcraft.

O'Donnell is the latest Tea Party favorite to shock the GOP. She upset nine-term Rep. Mike Castle on Tuesday.

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Opponents have been unearthing unflattering television clips from O'Donnell's past. Her campaign didn't immediately return a telephone message Saturday, but she has in the past dismissed previous comments.

The Washington Post blog 44 noted that the clip of the witch comments was a surprise because O'Donnell is an outspoken conservative Christian.

"I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things. I'm not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do," she says in the video clip (here on thinkprogress.org).

"One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn't know it. I mean, there's little blood there and stuff like that," she says in the clip. "We went to a movie and then like had a little midnight picnic on a satanic altar."

Maher said on his HBO show Friday that O'Donnell appeared regularly on his 1990s show "Politically Incorrect." Maher said he had more such clips of O'Donnell, though he also seemed to show a little fondness for her, saying, "She's nice."

Also on Saturday, CNN reported that that watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said it would seek an investigation of O'Donnell's spending of $20,000 campaign money in 2009 and 2010. CREW alleged that she used the money for personal spending.

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Also on Saturday, CNN reported that that watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said it would seek an investigation of O'Donnell's spending of $20,000 campaign money in 2009 and 2010. CREW alleged that she used the money for personal spending.

O'Donnell on Saturday canceled appearances Sunday on two national news shows, "Face the Nation" on CBS and "Fox News Sunday."

Campaign spokeswoman Diana Banister cited scheduling conflicts and said O'Donnell needed to return to Delaware for commitments to church events and afternoon picnic with Republicans in a key county where she has solid backing.

"Tomorrow the priorities are back in Delaware," Banister said. "Those are people who supported her, who were very helpful to her in the campaign, and she feels obligated to be there and thank them."

Banister said she was unaware of the previous commitments when she booked O'Donnell for the shows. She said she canceled with Fox News late Friday and with CBS early Saturday.

"We felt really bad," she said, adding the campaign apologized profusely for canceling at the last minute. Banister said O'Donnell would be pleased to appear on any Sunday news shows in the future.

On Friday, O'Donnell made her first national appearance since her primary upset in Washington at an annual Values Voters Summit. Appearances on the news shows would have furthered her national exposure.

Fox News had booked O'Donnell on Thursday. Marty Ryan, executive producer of "Fox News Sunday," said in a statement that the campaign canceled late Friday, saying she was exhausted and returning to Delaware.

"On Saturday morning, O'Donnell called us and said: 'I got triple-booked. I had been invited to go to church and then a picnic. I have to keep my priorities to Delaware voters,'" Ryan said. "The invitation to have her appear on the show remains open."

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Banister said the decision was solely a scheduling issue and not because O'Donnell wasn't prepared to go on the programs.

However, the cancellations reflect a campaign of about six staffers trying to keep up after being thrust into the national spotlight. Banister said many requests are pouring in and the campaign needs a scheduler and additional aides.

Separately, "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer said that program received an e-mail Saturday morning canceling O'Donnell's appearance without explanation. But the campaign later called to say that O'Donnell had some campaign events.

"I can't remember when anybody has canceled on us on a Saturday, but there's always a first," he said. "If she can work it in sometime, we'll be happy to have her."

Msnbc.com staff contributed to this report from The Associated Press.

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