Christine O'Donnell quickly made a name for herself in this year's election as a mini-Palin, due to a similar hairstyle and some nonsensical remarks, but last night, she fought hard in her own way during the Delaware Senate debate. Shown on CNN and CNN.com, O'Donnell, a marketing consultant and the Republican candidate to fill Vice President Biden's open seat, went up against Chris Coons, Democratic nominee, an attorney and county council officer.
Coons made the first attack in his opening statement, painting O'Donnell as dangerous on the extreme right. O'Donnell fired back throughout the debate trying to show Coons as a Marxist and a liberal pawn. Impressively, both candidates maintained an even keel throughout. Coons kept his cool, while sloughing off some of O'Donnell's attacks. Unfortunately, O'Donnell, as the less experienced debater, had to be cut off by the moderators multiple times for speaking beyond her time limit -- making her come off as whiny, trying to get in the last word, not where a woman candidate wants to be.
From the feminist angle, it did come off a bit as though Wolf Blitzer were putting O'Donnell down. Ann Althouse described the exchange:
"You can really feel the disrespect for O'Donnell in that clip. Whether it's because she's a woman or not, I think it stirs something instinctive in many women. It's dangerous for men even to seem to give off the vibe that they're really saying: You don't really belong here, little lady."
And she added, "A lot of us have had experiences with men trying to control us like this, and we instinctively root for the woman in this situation."
Another oft-blogged moment from the debate came when O'Donnell attempted to make a comeback to Coons when he defended her, but her Saturday Night Live talking point didn't fit the discussion, as Hillary Busis pointed-out at MediaIte:
"'There’s been lots of discussion in the national media about things my opponent has said or done that I frankly think are a distraction from the core issues that Delawarians ask about.' That’s when O’Donnell interrupted him: 'You’re just jealous that you weren’t on on Saturday Night Live,' she said with a laugh."
In most recent polls, Coons leads O'Donnell by over 20 points, so he had reason to feel confident. While Coons showed legal expertise and an understanding of how government works, O'Donnell slipped on a couple of simple questions like a request to name a recent Supreme Court case. Christina Bellatoni at Talking Points Memo described it:
"The debate moderator Nancy Karibjanian of Delaware First Media asked O'Donnell to talk about a recent high court opinion she disagreed with. The Republican, who defeated Rep. Mike Castle in a primary last month, paused. 'Oh gosh. Give me a specific one,' O'Donnell said after a deer-in-the-headlights moment which you can watch below. Karibjanian said, no, because that was the point: She needed O'Donnell to name one."
Not a good way to end the debate for O'Donnell, even though hundreds of conservatives on Twitter were raving about her performance using the #desen hashtag. Coons looks to pull off a win in Delaware, but don't expect this is the last we'll see of Christine O'Donnell.
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