One area Chris Coons probably should have steered clear of smug comments during his nationally televised senatorial debate with Christine O’Donnell. He did not. At the same time, Christine O’Donnell, behind in the polls by an average of 18.3 percent (Real Clear Politics average), said nothing to show why she would be a better senator for the state of Delaware than Coons, offering only platitudes and personal attacks.
Christine O’Donnell, who has become little more than a Democratic punching bag since she surprisingly knocked off Mike Castle in the Delaware Republican Primary, did little to salvage her reputation during the debate, which was broadcast by CNN. In fact, she seemed to rely more on the Sarah Palin method of answering questions from the moderators — speak to the topic’s irrelevancy or simply switch the subject. As pointed out by the Associated Press, she also wanted to move beyond her “I’m not a witch” ad that made her the center of political ridicule and late night jokes.
But her most damning moment came when she was asked, considering her stance against liberal activism in the Supreme Court, to provide a specific Supreme Court case with which she disagreed. She could not and said she would post the information on her website later.
There is nothing so confidence-building from a politician than statements of “we’ll look into that later” and “we’ll get back to you on that.”
Democratic senatorial hopeful Chris Coons said at one point that he didn’t “have any classified information about China or its plans,” a reference to a statement Christine O’Donnell made in a 2006 debate, one in which she said she had been privy to classified intelligence information that China was planning to take over the U. S. The comment could not help but draw attention to the myriad statements and sound bites — like her admission to dabbling in witchcraft, her views on women in the military, and finding looking at pornography akin to adultery — that have come back to haunt O’Donnell from her past as a conservative pundit.
When speaking to the health care issue, O’Donnell said that Obamacare would put Uncle Sam in the examination room. Coons quickly retorted, “That’s a good slogan … How does this bill actually put Uncle Sam in the examination room?”
As Coons attempted to paint O’Donnell as an extremist, she attempted to reciprocate. She pointed out that he had written a newspaper column, “Chris Coons: The Making of a Bearded Marxist,” and studied under a Marxist professor. She noted that his views were Marxist.
Coons said he had never been anything other than a “clean-shaven capitalist.”
It is doubtful Chris Coons lost any ground in the polls to O’Donnell, but he would have appeared a bit less “mean-spirited” (New York Times) if he had refrained from calling attention to O’Donnell’s well-publicized opinions and trying to demean her intellect. At one point, when O’Donnell asked Coons if a company he was associated with wouldn’t benefit from the clean energy bill, Coons said that it was “difficult for me to understand from her question what she was talking about.”
But the debate between Coons and O’Donnell wasn’t really about the campaign: It appeared more about showcasing Christine O’Donnell as the ultimate fail candidate, perhaps catching her in another gaffe or embarrassing moment just before the election.
Nobody seemed to come out a clear winner in the Coons-O’Donnell debate. Coons looked heavy-handed and condescending. O’Donnell looked uninformed and ill-prepared, although she did get a sound bite moment with: “You’re just jealous you were not on Saturday Night Live.”