In Ad, O’Donnell Says, ‘I’m Not a Witch’

BY David Chalian  October 5, 2010 at 8:47 AM EDT

The Morning Line

“I’m not a witch.”

That’s not your usual opening sentence in a political campaign ad. But Christine O’Donnell’s candidacy in Delaware has proven to be anything but usual.

The Tea Party-backed Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate is looking to hit the restart button on her campaign with this latest television ad:

O’Donnell speaks to the camera throughout the 30-second spot in an attempt to get beyond the noise surrounding her campaign, which has been largely generated by clips of her appearances on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” show in the 1990s.

“I’m nothing you’ve heard. I’m you,” O’Donnell goes on to say in the ad.

This is the Republican candidate’s first television ad of the general election. Her decision to address the Maher witchcraft clip from 1999 head on shows that thus far, she has completely failed to define her candidacy on her own terms. That’s never a good position to be in four weeks from Election Day.

The non-stop free publicity the ad will generate both in the all-important local TV news coverage and as part of the national cable chatter might do more to remind Delaware voters about her association with witchcraft rather than her attempt to distance herself from it.

“It’s surprising that Ms. O’Donnell, in her first television commercial, offers no solutions to the problems facing working families,” said Democratic candidate Chris Coons’ campaign spokesman Daniel McElhatton to the Associated Press. “There’s no ideas here; there’s no plan.”

MCMAHON, BLUMENTHAL FACE OFF

Candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut faced off in a televised debate Monday night, giving Republican Linda McMahon, the former head of World Wrestling Entertainment, and Democrat Richard Blumenthal, the state’s attorney general, the chance to confront each other in person with the attacks they’ve lobbed via the airwaves.

Blumenthal was shown McMahon’s ad that accuses him of lying about the nature of his service in Vietnam:

Blumenthal said he was proud of his service and apologized for occasionally inaccurately describing the nature of his service. The New York Times broke the story in May that Blumenthal had been suggesting that he served in Vietnam when he had never been deployed as a reservist.

McMahon then had a chance to respond to Blumenthal’s ad, which claims she would lower the minimum wage and fired employees while taking tax breaks from the government. McMahon said the ad was a lie:

In what the Hartford Courant called the sharpest exchange of the debate, McMahon and Blumenthal bickered over how to create jobs, with Blumenthal saying that creative policy could encourage job growth.

“Government, government government,” McMahon responded. “Government does not create jobs. It’s very simple how you create jobs. An entrepreneur takes a risk, he or she believes [and] creates a good or service that is sold for more than it costs to make it.”

“I’m not going to be an entrepreneur as a senator,” Blumenthal retorted, as a wave of laughter rippled through the crowd at the theater. “I will do my best to assist entrepreneurs.”

The Real Clear Politics polls average has Blumenthal with a small lead over McMahon at 6.7 percentage points. Earlier in the year Blumenthal led by double digits.

POLL POSITION

If you’re a political poll junkie, you may want to invest in a neck brace. You can get some pretty serious whiplash from the daily release of survey results. Of course, all polls aren’t equal and it’s always good to keep your eyes on the most methodologically sound results.

As we wrote in this space last week, Democrats appear to be waking up to the idea that there’s an election taking place in four weeks that will inevitably serve as a referendum on President Obama and help determine the course for his final two years of his term.

The slight uptick for Democrats may be enough to downgrade a disastrous election night into a really bad election night for the majority party, but there doesn’t appear to be anything in the latest crop of polls showing a good night is in store for the president and his party.

“Among likely voters, Republicans hold a six-point edge, 49 percent to 43 percent, on the congressional ballot. At this time four years ago, Democrats led by 12 points. Then, Democrats also held a 19-point advantage when voters were asked which party they trusted to deal with the country’s main problems,” write Dan Balz and Jon Cohen on the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

“Today, the public is almost evenly divided on that question, nearly matching public sentiment in October 1994, the last time Republicans won both the House and the Senate.”

There has been much talk of late about Democrats needing to energize their base if they hope to come close to matching the enthusiasm on display by Republicans. But as is the case in all elections, it’s about the base and the middle.

More from Cohen/Balz: “[I]ndependents continue to lean heavily toward the GOP in their voting intentions, a sharp change from both 2006 and 2008. Among independent voters most likely to cast ballots this year, 53 percent say they favor the Republican in their district, compared with 33 percent who favor the Democratic candidate.”

In a new memo from the centrist Democratic think tank “Third Way,” the organization’s president Jon Cowan and domestic policy program director Anne Kim write, “Motivating the liberal base is necessary for Democrats to keep their seats — but it’s not sufficient. . . Nationally, the share of conservatives has risen 5-percentage points since 2008, according to Gallup, while the share of liberals has declined.”

IDIOT BOARDS

Former vice president and 1984 presidential candidate Walter Mondale
has some advice for President Obama: Get off the idiot boards.

He isn’t talking about iPads. Mondale thinks President Obama is hampered by his use of the teleprompter in communicating with an angry American public.

“He uses these idiot boards to read speeches in television, and I think he loses the connection that he needs emotionally with American voters,” he told CNN.

Rush Limbaugh has made it a habit of criticizing the president for using a teleprompter, insinuating that President Obama can’t speak on his own when he isn’t reading from one.

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