Delaware Debate Demonstrates Why Everyone Loves Christine O’Donnell

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Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Well-respected Washington Post politics scribe Chris Cillizza wondered yesterday why a debate between Christine O'Donnell and Chris Coons would be carried live on CNN last night. "Judging from that treatment," Cillizza wrote, "a casual viewer might conclude that the race for Vice President Joe Biden's old seat is among the most competitive in the country. That, of course, would be wrong. Way wrong." Indeed, unless the tea party is capable of more than anyone could even imagine, Democrat Coons, who leads in the polls by an average of nearly twenty points, will win easily. But a Delaware Senate debate has something that no other debate has: a candidate who has said there is more proof for creationism than for evolution, who has claimed to have seen classified documents outlining China's plan for a takeover of the United States, and who, like Sarah Palin, has trouble naming a Supreme Court decision she's disagreed with in the past 38 years.

O'Donnell was on the offensive for most of the night, attacking Coons on taxes, on the Obama agenda, on his family's wealth, and, of course, for that one time in college where he joked that he'd become a "bearded Marxist." And Coons — though some commentators thought he could "barely contain his disdain for his opponent" — declined to attack O'Donnell on the many, many weird things she has said in the past. The moderators, though, just couldn't help themselves. They had to know, for example, whether O'Donnell still did not believe in evolution.


Asked about evolution, which Ms. O’Donnell has in the past said she believes is a myth, she said that what she believed was “irrelevant.” When pushed by the CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, one of the moderators, she said: “Local schools should make that decision.”

One way it might be relevant is if, as senator, she will legislate according to a literal interpretation of the Bible, and not, you know, facts that exist. But okay. What about that time she said that China has a "carefully thought-out and strategic plan to take over America," which she learned through "classified information"? Again, O'Donnell did not provide a satisfying explanation.


O'Donnell said that she was referencing some "security briefs" she received when she was working with a humanitarian group that was going to China. She said that because they "own so much of our debt," China could indeed "take us over monetarily before they could militarily." She also said she believed she was "misquoted" at the time.

Claiming you were "misquoted" is a favorite get-out-of-trouble strategy in the political world. It's hard to be misquoted, though, when you made your remark in a debate, which is where O'Donnell's China claim originated. Did O'Donnell misquote herself? We don't follow.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable moment of the whole debate was when O'Donnell was asked about a recent Supreme Court decision she's disagreed with.


NANCY KARIBJANIAN: What opinions, of late, that have come from our high court, do you most object to?

O'DONNELL: Oh, gosh. Um, give me a specific one. I'm sorry.

KARIBJANIAN: Actually, I can't, because I need you to tell me which ones you object to.

O'DONNELL: Um, I'm very sorry, right off the top of my head, I know that there are a lot, but I'll put it up on my website, I promise you.

WOLF BLITZER: We know that you disagree with Roe v. Wade.

O'DONNELL: Yeah, but she said a recent one.

BLITZER: That's relatively recent.

O'DONNELL: She said "of late." But yeah. Well, Roe v. Wade would not put the power — It's not recent, it's 30-something years old —

BLITZER: But since then, have there been any other Supreme Court decisions?

O'DONNELL: Well, let me say about Roe v. Wade — If that were overturned, would not make abortion illegal in the United States, it would put the power back to the states.

BLITZER: But besides that decision, anything else you disagree with?

O'DONNELL: Oh, there are several when it comes to pornography, when it comes to court decisions — not to Supreme Court, but federal court decisions to give terrorists Mirandize rights. There are a lot of things I believe — This California decision to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I believe there are a lot of federal judges legislating from the bench.

BLITZER: That wasn't the Supreme Court. That was a lower —

O'DONNELL: That was a federal judge. That's what I said. In California.

O'Donnell's flustered response is being compared to how Sarah Palin handled the same question in her infamous, disastrous interview with Katie Couric in 2008. It's never good when you can draw comparisons to that interview.

Christine O'Donnell goes deep debating Chris Coons [Politico]
Delaware Senate Hopefuls Debate [NYT]