(CNN) – Karl Rove – the top GOP strategist who declared last week that Christine O’Donnell’s surprise victory does “little good” for the party – is now calling on the surprise Senate nominee to explain her comments about witchcraft.
"In southern Delaware where there are a lot of churchgoing people, they're going to want to know what that is all about,” the former aide to President George W. Bush told "Fox News Sunday."
“My view is she can’t simply ignore it,” he said. “She’s got to deal with it and explain it and put it in its most sympathetic light and move on.”
O’Donnell uttered the comments in question during a 1999 appearance on the now-canceled show “Politically Incorrect,” saying then, “I dabbled into witchcraft – I never joined a coven. But I did, I did. ... I dabbled into witchcraft.”
The 11-year-old interview was dug up Friday by liberal comedian Bill Maher – the former host of Politically Incorrect. During the 1999 appearance, O’Donnell also described one of her first dates – with a witch “on a satanic altar.”
A spokesman for the O’Donnell campaign did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
“She can’t simply say, ‘Oh these are unfactual, and not true,' and just ignore them,” Rove also said. “I don’t think the people of Delaware have or are accepting that as a reasonable explanation.
Citing exhaustion and scheduling conflicts, O’Donnell canceled her plans over the weekend to appear on both "Fox News Sunday" and CBS’ "Face the Nation" – a move Rove called a “smart decision.”
“She shouldn’t have accepted in the first place,” he said. “It’s Delaware voters, not conservatives across the country who will determine the outcome of this election … and there is, as I say, resistance.”
Turning to Alaska – where Sen. Lisa Murkowski launched a write-in bid after losing to a Tea Party-backed candidate last month – Rove declared the senator can’t win.
"She's going to lose," he said, adding, "[Joe Miller] won it fair and square, and Murkowski should not pursue this very, very sad line she is pursuing."
– CNN's Mariano Castillo contributed to this report