(CNN) – Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman told CNN on Monday that battle over the congressional seat in New York's 23rd district that led to the withdrawal of the Republican candidate isn't evidence of a split within the GOP.
Hoffman called Dede Scozzafava, the Republican nominee who dropped out of the race over the weekend, an "ultra-liberal" - but denied the GOP is at war with itself, or that the race offer a glimpse what's to come in next fall's midterm elections.
There is room for moderates in the GOP, said Hoffman. "I think this was a unique situation where the candidate happened to be more Democrat than Republican," he told CNN's Mary Snow and Shirley Zilberstein. "And basically, I was fighting to stand up for the values and ideals of the Republican Party."
Before Scozzafava dropped out, Republicans were split between her and Hoffman, allowing Democrat Bill Owens to take the lead in this reliably-Republican district. Scozzafava is now backing Owens - a decision that Hoffman said "surprised" him, but shows that he's always been the "real Republican" in the race.
"Well, my candidacy has been for fighting for the soul of the Republican Party," Hoffman said. "I think the events of the last two days have shown that I have been the real Republican in this race, the real common sense conservative Ronald Reagan Republican."
Earlier in the day, Vice President Joe Biden suggested that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh "handpick[ed]" Hoffman to run. Hoffman called that notion "ridiculous": "I've never spoken to Rush Limbaugh so I don't know where he's getting that information from."