THE Fine Gael presidential hopeful has lashed rival Sean Gallagher, saying he is canvassing to be elected Minister for Jobs, not for the office of President.
“Sean Gallagher is not going to be Minister for innovation and jobs. The job is a different job to the one Sean is applying for. This is a political job,” Mr Mitchell said in an interview on RTE radio this morning.
He said people were looking for a president with experience, not someone who would be “learning on the job”.
The former Lord Mayor of Dublin said: “My reason for going for president is that I have vast experience as a politician.
"It’s a political job. I travelled with Mary Robinson abroad more than any other minister. I know this job. I believe I am the best qualified person to do that,” he said.
Mr Mitchell, who is according to the latest opinion poll published, now at an all time low of 8 pc, dismissed the poll and questioned “the guiding principles of the polls.”
“The poll tells me that any candidate can go up 19 per cent in one poll. Polls don’t operate like that. I’ve been speaking to friends this morning who’ve said they haven’t made their minds up yet. In the presidential election, 40pc of people made their minds up in the last week,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has attacked calls for a head-to-head debate between the two frontrunners in the presidential opinion polls.
After appearing to lose ground in the campaign, Mr McGuinness branded Labour's Michael D Higgins, Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell and Independent Sean Gallagher as more of the same.
He said the presidential election is a choice between someone not part of the establishment, and a clear break from bad politics and bank bailouts, or the status quo.
"In this election people have real choices to make. My candidacy is about sending a very clear message that the Irish people want a break from the bad politics that led to the economic and financial mess that we now find ourselves in," Mr. McGuinness said.
The campaign has entered its final 10 days with Mr Gallagher holding a shock but commanding lead over Mr Higgins in the latest opinion poll.
Mr Mitchell, Mr Higgins and Mr Gallagher joined Mr McGuinness, who is trailing the poll leaders in third, at the Inclusion Ireland conference in the Mansion House Dublin.
Mr McGuinness claimed he is the only candidate opposing austerity with a campaign standing up for Irish sovereignty and the interests of ordinary people.
"These are the real issues at stake in this election but the debates so far have not allowed those issues to be dealt with in any serious way," he said.
"Let's have real debate on these real issues as soon as possible.
"This election is a choice between those who represent more of the same or someone who advocates a better, fairer way. Michael D Higgins, Gay Mitchell and Sean Gallagher represent more of the same."
Senator David Norris has described himself as the only true "24 carat" independent candidate.
"While other candidates may wear the badge of independence for political gain, I am the only one who has never been a member of a political party, never been appointed to a state board or never had my political campaigns backed by those with vested interests," he said.
Mr Norris said Sean Gallagher was on the Fianna Fail national executive until recently and, in a swipe at Mary Davis, said he had never served on any boards.
In an attack on last week's Keane report on the mortgage debt crisis, Mr Norris said it represented a betrayal of the people of Ireland.
"We are beginning to see evictions again in Ireland," he said.
"This is what the Land League fought against, this is what the United Irishmen fought against, this is what the people of 1916 fought against and yet we have our own Government assisting in the process of eviction at the direction of outside financial interests."
Meanwhile, Mr Higgins said there have been no discussions on a voting pact between the coalition parties to secure transfers from Mr Mitchell but he said he would welcome Fine Gael support.
"It's very important to be a candidate that people can transfer to with comfort and enthusiasm," Mr Higgins said.
"But it's not a deal. I think people are very, very wise. They know how to vote," he added.