Any time CNN’s Wolf Blitzer shows up at your college campus, it’s usually going to be a big deal. More so if he’s at the University of Delaware in Newark to host a half hour long political debate for a national broadcast. Top it off with a candidate known for having told essentially the entire western world she “isn’t a witch” and you’ve got chaos of a new order in the offing.
That pretty much paints the back drop for Tuesday night’s hour-and-a-half long televised meeting between Delaware Senate candidates Chris Coons and Christine O’Donnell. If the facts didn’t whet your appetite, you’re not a fan of the sport. Pundits, including those from CNN, said O’Donnell needed to deliver a crushing blow to Coons to offset the spread of poll number released earlier that same day showing Coons with a 19 point spread over O’Donnell.
Fans of politics, Coons, O’Donnell and Blitzer didn’t walk away unhappy.
Neither candidate came across as a “loser” in the end; neither made any campaign-threatening mistakes, instead probably scoring points with the converted or frightening those already pre-disposed to vote for the other candidate.
Mr. Coons repeatedly tried to sell his “record” and his background as an elected official, versus what he described as Ms. O’Donnell’s lack of similar experience. As for her part, Ms. O’Donnell followed a script similar to that of other Tea Party candidates, stressing “the constitution” and “state’s rights.”
Both did manage to contrast themselves and in a mostly civil fashion.
Regardless, all eyes were on Ms. O’Donnell, who has grabbed so much national attention since her unexpected primary victory of Delaware Republican Representative Mike Castle. At one point toward the end of the debate, Blitzer looked her in the eye and wondered why – if she didn’t want to talk about things done in her youth (“I dabbled into witchcraft”) she brought it up one of her most talked-about ads, saying “I’m not a witch.” O’Donnell replied that she mentioned it to get by it and talk about issues.
As for allegations he’s raised taxes, Mr. Coons said the O’Donnell campaign has mischaracterized or simply lied about his campaign, and said he never proposed a tax on cell phone 911 calls to emergency services.
When it came down to talk about personal beliefs, Ms. O’Donnell noticeably avoided answering a question from Blizter, “Do you believe in evolution?” She also compared her beliefs to that of Mr. Coons saying she was a Catholic – and he was a Marxist.
Perhaps her biggest flub of the night? When she fumbled over any recent Supreme Court decisions – she couldn’t think of any. Earlier, she had referred to an international injunction on the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell policy” as legislating from the bench.
Perhaps his? Admitting his company might profit from cap-and-trade and green policy changes because of product s it makes that go into newer fuel cells.
The candidates meet again the day after, and have meetings scheduled almost up until Election Day.