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Explaining Christine O'Donnell's "I'm not a witch" ad

Christine O'Donnell's startling new ad, which clarified that she's "not a witch" and is instead, well, "you," has been widely greeted today with puzzlement by the political classes. Now the O'Donnell campaign has put out a statement explaining the spot's intent:

"I'M YOU."

Christine O'Donnell, Republican candidate running for U.S. Senate in Delaware, is an average American that will go to Washington knowing what issues average Delawareans want addressed. She conveys her commitment to representing those views in a new ad that is being aired in the Philadelphia, PA and Salisbury, MD markets as well as on cable networks in all three counties in DE: New Castle, Kent, and Sussex.

This a substantial statewide buy that will run.

I'm no advertising expert, but if you need to put out a subsequent statement explaining your ad's message, it seems safe to assume that it's not a success. Yet the O'Donnell camp appears to be putting "substantial" resources behind it.

Between this ad and the news that O'Donnell warned of a secret Chinese plot to take over the United States -- a plot detailed in classified info she obtained while working for nonprofit groups that sent missionaries to China -- I think today is the day that O'Donnell officially enters into the category of Alvin Greene fringe candidate.

UPDATE, 14:53 p.m.: Dem Chris Coons hits back with a new Website:

Tell Christine O'Donnell: You are not me.

In her new television ad, Christine O'Donnell says she is you. But unless you think the retirement age for Social Security should be raised, want to further de-regulate Wall Street, are against a woman's right to choose, think public schools should teach Creationism, and think homosexuality is an "identity disorder," she is not you.

By Greg Sargent  | October 5, 2010; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, Senate Republicans, Tea Party  
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Comments

Then why was Christine dressed in black -


in the corner behind her there was a broom and a black cat.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | October 5, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

This is how Christine spends her fundraising couple of million dollars? We heard how much money she raised after winning the primary. Her campaign decides to spend it to advertise "I am not a witch".

Bwahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

I thought when you made a mistake in politics (and having video run that you dabbled in witchcraft surely qualifies), you wanted to STOP talking about it.

No one can say politics aren't fun.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 5, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

It is puzzling. Any ad/statement which begins with a denial (I'm not a crook/drug addict/child molester) seems a tad shaky.

But it's simple.

Posted by: bernielatham | October 5, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

For someone widely derided by the smug chattering classes on the left as a nobody, a lightweight, a lost cause, and a contributing reason to how the Ds keep the Senate, COD sure does generate an awful lot of commentary. If she is so hopeless, wouldn't your efforts to keep the loons on the left in charge be better applied making up stuff about candidates who really do have a chance (or to be charitable, pointing out their numerous flaws)? Just a thought.

Posted by: bzod9999 | October 5, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Probably the single worst political ad I've ever seen.

Amateur-city.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | October 5, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

If she is so hopeless, wouldn't your efforts to keep the loons on the left in charge be better applied making up stuff about candidates who really do have a chance ...
-------------------------------
No actually, bzod, the reason we gather here to laugh about the latest O'Donnellism is because everyone is SECRETLY so afraid of her.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 5, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

@12Bar "everyone is SECRETLY so afraid of her." Wow that was some funny snark from a person who usually doesn't engage in snark.
You go girl. :-)

IMHO There is a bit of irony here. We all agree..probably right and left and maybe even delusional Joke that starting a spot with I am not a witch is probably a bad idea.
However...her theme of "I'm you" could have had some merit with the truth.

Imagine if COD had said...I worked my butt off to graduate from college but like many of you my student loans were so huge, my income so small that I couldn't afford to pay my final bill and get my diploma until 20 years after my graduation.

Like a large and growing number of Americans I had trouble meeting my mortgage obligation and my home went into foreclosure...I know EXACTLY HOW YOU feel.

Because our economy is poor I couldn't afford to pay my taxes...just like you.

Of course then she would have had to explain why she is an R instead of a D and that would be difficult.

Posted by: rukidding7 | October 5, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"For someone widely derided by the smug chattering classes on the left"

Well, sure, but also derided by Karl Rove, Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer and...and...

Posted by: bernielatham | October 5, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

@bzod: They are focusing on Christine O'Donnell because they hope they can make her the face of the GOP in the election cycle, so folks will think a vote for whatever local Democrat is a vote against crazy pleasure-hating witch-dabbler O'Donnell. Not because they think she has any real chance of winning.

She's just so atrocious, they want to see if they can paint every Republican candidate with the same brush.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | October 5, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

She's me? Well then what does she think of all the great s-e-x I/we are having?

If she is me then she MUST have rethought her anti-m@sterbation stance.

Wait a second; I don't think there are mice with human brains running around! I never dabbled in witchcraft either. Also too I didn't factor in my love of putting meatballs in my mouth when picking my religion.

She isn't me. I'm not a deluded, crazy, wingnut media wh*re.

Posted by: PaciolisRevenge | October 5, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

As someone pointed out this morning, Obama had to give a whole SPEECH to rebut the allegation that he is a Muslim -- didn't he have an entire website called "Fight the Smears"? -- Look, I have contributed to the O'Donnell campaign and do not have a problem with this ad.

Next "controversy"?

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

@12Bar,
Don't get me wrong, I love that you're figuratively re-arranging deck chairs ahead of the ballot-box thumping that is coming your way. If COD keeps the band playing as the ship goes down, you can look back and say you had a great time, AND you get to keep your liberal bona fides intact by telling all that you knew all along how bad she was. Congratulations! Except at the end, you're still in the freezing water with no vest and no chance at rescue. Congrats again!

Posted by: bzod9999 | October 5, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

@ruk,

Thanks for the shoutout.

Re: the subtext of I'm you. That would have made a far better ad, than starting with "I'm not a witch". However, with only a few weeks to election day, running an identity ad is still pretty defensive. But better than "I'm not a witch".

Seriously, who is the target audience for the "I'm not a witch" message? As much as I've enjoyed all the O'Donnellisms, never once did I think there was ANY chance she actually is a witch. She didn't have to deny it to convince me.

Is it the religious far right who needed reassurance on the witch issue? Bwahahaha!!!!!

Does it get any better than this?

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 5, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

@bernie: "It is puzzling."

No, it's not. Starting with "I'm not a witch" = "See all these terrible things these people have been calling me? They are so mean to me. And I'm an attractive woman, and they're being so mean to me. I'm a victim. Won't you be gallant and save me? Vote for me, and you'll be my knight in shining armor. I'll be eternally grateful."

"But no hanky-panky."

It's an attempt to create empathy by playing the victim. "See how mean they are? How would you feel if they treated *you* this way?"

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | October 5, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

rukidding7:

You can assume that I will never agree with you.

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin - Yes, I appreciate the appeal to victimhood and the hope for some sympathy.

But the question is whether the ad achieves what it sets out to achieve. A fundamental premise in marketing is that one's negatives or the charges against one ought to be avoided. This ad puts one right up front. In that sense, it's quite odd.

Had I been responsible for this ad, I'd have her deliver this short narration from a river or lake, fading to black, then text, "Christine. Not a witch. She floats"

Posted by: bernielatham | October 5, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I think Kevin is onto something. For those willing to suspend skepticism, I think the subtext to the ad is "I'm a victim. They make this stuff about me. They could make stuff up about you next."

The target audience is to hold her own base, don't you think?

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 5, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm more upset with the last sentence in the press release: "This a substantial statewide buy that will run." That doesn't make any sense.

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

@bernie: "A fundamental premise in marketing is that one's negatives or the charges against one ought to be avoided."

I don't dispute that, but I think there is a (questionable) method to their madness. There is a specific message they are peddling, because O'Donnell is extremely vulnerable. That is, "I'm not a witch. Which is an absurd accusation. So stuff about me making personal use of campaign funds and fudging my resume are probably also just as absurd. And just as mean to be saying about me, an attractive woman. And next, they'll be accusing you of embezzlement, too. Haven't you ever been accused of something you didn't do? Didn't feel so great, did it?"

And it may also be attempting to repackage the witch thing--which she said--into a crazy accusation from her opposition, not something that O'Donnell is actually responsible for.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | October 5, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey baggers, aren't you glad to see what your campaign contributions are being wasted on?

LOL @ you!

Posted by: Observer691 | October 5, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Ever since journolist shutdown the professional left has been in complete disarray. Four weeks until elections in which Democrats are going to get destroyed and Greg & Co. are doing oppo research on... Christine O'Donnell? Talk about misplaced priorities. Tea Party Derangement Syndrome at work.

Posted by: johnyt1977 | October 5, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

But Jim Demint, the new leader of the GOP, loves her to the tune of $130,000 in conributions to her campaign so she can run these very sharp ads.

Posted by: pragmaticstill | October 5, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@bernie,
GREAT call. Ending the ad with "She floats" would have been absolutely fantastic. A real missed oppty. Maybe SNL can do that justice and though I obv want her to win, that's a skewering I could get behind. Great call.

Posted by: bzod9999 | October 5, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

12BarBlues - What good will holding down her base, in Delaware, do her? That might be enough in Utah or another deep red state, but not in Delaware.

Of course she is playing the victim; you and KevinW are right about that. But will that work when the victimizer is video tapes of the victim saying stupid things? How will that work?

Ad Text (revised): "Look at all the terrible things I'm saying about myself! You have to vote for me because I'm being mean to me! I'm not a witch, even though I libeled myself by saying I dabbled in witchcraft. And I don't care what that liar Christine O'Donnell said about Christine O'Donnell, I've never cared more about injecting meatballs into my mouth than God - that would be weird."

Posted by: PaciolisRevenge | October 5, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin - Yes, I think you have the rationale/hopes right.

Posted by: bernielatham | October 5, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Our gracious host admits to not being an "advertising expert" (the O'Donnell campaign HAS hired those), but then goes on to claim: "if you need to put out a subsequent statement explaining your ad's message, it seems safe to assume that it's not a success."

Here's the "subsequent" press release that Harry Reid put out about his latest ad:

http://www.harryreid.com/index.php/news/release/angles_handlers_please_dont_listen_to_sharron_she_lies/

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious as to why it's also running in PA and MD markets--is it bleed-over TV machine audience into DE? Never having lived in the area I don't know the TV markets there.

Posted by: Michigoose | October 5, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Poor johnnyt1977 isn't keeping up with the news. The teabaggers peaked too soon. They left too much time for their candidates to continue opening their pieholes and making complete fools out of themselves.

Not only this nutbag O'Donnell, but Joe "time to measure the drapes" Miller, Sharron "autism? What autism" Angle, Paul "Go to hell, Obama" LePage, Carl "I'll take out you" Paladino, Renee "I trust the insurance companies" Ellmers, etc, etc etc.

Now the "done deal" GOP takeover of the House is not looking so done. Humiliation awaits the rightwingnuts!

Posted by: Observer691 | October 5, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Since I had kinds before I was married I know for sure she doesn't represent my values.

And I have never dabbled in witch craft or worn a skirt...

Posted by: soapm | October 5, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

hey observer691,
If you'd like to make a real-money wager on the heels of the Dem's apparently improving prospects of keeping the House and the GOP's premature peaking, I'd be happy to take the other side.

Posted by: bzod9999 | October 5, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, I hope that her campaign staff is not infiltrated with liberals like you guys "suggesting" ad copy.

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

@Observer: "Hey baggers, aren't you glad to see what your campaign contributions are being wasted on?"

I'd have to give money to the national party for that to happen. I don't. So, I'm not worried about it. Thanks for your concern, though.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | October 5, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama message:


Obama bait-and-switches from bipartisanship to a far left agenda.


Obama then jams through his far-left agenda and says to the American People "If you don't like it, you are a racist."

That has to be much worse than anything Christine O'Donnell has done.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | October 5, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Of course she is playing the victim; you and KevinW are right about that. But will that work when the victimizer is video tapes of the victim saying stupid things? How will that work?
--------------------------
It will work with low information voters who haven't seen the videos.

Of course, you're right that holding her base isn't enough. But the ad telegraphs she's having trouble with her base, IMO. She's drowning out there, so she's grabbing onto the nearest constituency.

The irony is that Christine is continuing the lie: "I didn't say it, it wasn't me, it was someone else who is saying these things about me."

What else can she do? Continue the lies is all she has left. She lived with the lies on her lips, her campaign dies with the lies on her lips.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | October 5, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

All, this is just stunning: Only one third of DEMOCRATS think this Congress has accomplished more than other recent ones:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/10/why_dems_arent_enthusiastic_th.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | October 5, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

@Pac: "Of course she is playing the victim; you and KevinW are right about that. But will that work when the victimizer is video tapes of the victim saying stupid things?"

That's why you try to frame the message. You don't explain your role in becoming the victim; you focus on the attackers. You don't say, "I said this, I said that"--you approach it as if your opponent is coming up with these crazy things out of thin air. And, maybe, suggest that perhaps you said one or two foolish things, but haven't you? And would you want everybody attacking you for a simple slip of the tongue? Is that fair? And that big mean boy is being mean to an attractive, innocent woman. He's a bully! ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | October 5, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"I'm curious as to why it's also running in PA and MD markets--is it bleed-over TV machine audience into DE? Never having lived in the area I don't know the TV markets there."

I grew up just over the border in Chester County, PA. Delaware doesn't have a major media market of its own. Its largest city is Wilmington, which is a city about 30 mins. south of Philadelphia on Interstate Route 95. It's well within metropolitan Philadelphia, as is much or most of the State of Delaware. The portion of Delaware too far south to be easily covered by the Philadelphia broadcast market would be served by the Maryland broadcast market that covers Maryland's Eastern Shore (of which the southern two counties of Delaware are little more than the easternmost part).

Delaware is too small a state too close to large media markets to have its own major media market, so if you want to cover it well with political ads you have to broadcast your advertisements from Philadelphia & Maryland broadcasters.

Posted by: akaoddjob | October 5, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

If this ad works in Delaware, Sarah Palin WILL run for President next year.

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"his far-left agenda"

You mean the one that's well to the right of Richard Nixon's?


Really, if you had any historical perspective you'd laugh at how ridiculously ignorant your comment is!

Posted by: akaoddjob | October 5, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin will do whatever she thinks will make her the most money.

Posted by: akaoddjob | October 5, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

FWIW: I think that the retirement age for Social Security should be raised. I want to further de-regulate Wall Street. I am against a woman's right to choose. I think public schools should teach Creationism. I think homosexuality is an "identity disorder".

Next "controversy"?

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

She sounds like Linda Tripp!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | October 5, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I knew that I wasn't just imaging it:

http://fightthesmears.com

"Learn the Truth About Barack Obama"

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

@jd2: I think that the retirement age for Social Security should be raised. I want to further de-regulate Wall Street. I am against a woman's right to choose. I think public schools should teach Creationism. I think homosexuality is an "identity disorder".

This is how the world looks in the very small, insulated, anti science, anti government echochamber known as rightwingnutistan....

"Obama had to give a whole SPEECH to rebut the allegation that he is a Muslim"

That is the difference between Obama being the target of damaging (because despite what they say, Americans are religious bigots), totally false rumors and having to defend himself and ODonnell, who is trying to run away as fast as she can from FROM THINGS SHE SAYS AND BELIEVES. No one forced her to admit dabbling in witchcraft or condemn masturbat!on (because it is autohomosexuality, I guess). These are things that SHE ACTUALLY BELIEVES, since she won't disavow these views publically.

I am especially amused (and disgusted by) your anti-abortion stance, since you can't have one...

Posted by: srw3 | October 5, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

@jd2:I knew that I wasn't just imaging it.

No, you really do reside in rightwingnutistan...

Posted by: srw3 | October 5, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

srw3:

Saying that "I dabbled in witchcraft" is very different than the lies against her (yes, some are at the level of "Obama is a secret Muslim). Also, I "can't" kill my parents either, but I am still against patricide.

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I think we all may be missing the boat here for her "I'm not a witch" ad was an audition for a job in Hollywood. She now has nationwide, if not worldwide, recognition. Stay tuned.

Posted by: dozas | October 5, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

What I find a bit hilarious about this is the possibility that this "I am not a witch" ad could be in response to the recent bit on Saturday Night Live -- you know, the one where the woman playing O'Donnell takes off on her broom at the end of the skit.

Yes, I know it seems loony but I can't figure out what else could have possibly convinced an ad agency to make one of the worst and most "mock"-worthy campaign ads in recent memory.

Even the staging is poor, with the black dress and her long straight black hair and the dark background. And so close to Halloween. ;)

Maybe they were anticipating a plethora of little girls dressed up as Christine the Witch for Trick-or-Treat this year?

At any rate, it would have been fun to be a fly on the wall at that advertising meeting. "SNL helped take out our girl Sarah, we won't let them do that to Christine!"

Posted by: elscott | October 5, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

elscott:

It wasn't just SNL. Here are just the first few hits from a Google search:

http://gawker.com/5641653/christine-odonnell-was-a-teen-witch

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/doug-molitor/12-signs-that-christine-o_b_730899.html

http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/christine-odonnell-once-a-witch-always-a-witch/question-1235549/

Greg Sargent's commenters have called her a "witch" too.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/10/audio_of_christine_odonnell_cl.html#comments

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

@srw3: "I am especially amused (and disgusted by) your anti-abortion stance, since you can't have one..."

Well, men can't have children, generally, but they can be against infanticide, or even the killing of much older children. Just because a guy can't get pregnant and give birth really doesn't mean they can't have an opinion about abortion, or how to best raise children (should they survive until birth), etc.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | October 5, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

It seems as if the WaPo -- and Dems in general -- sure are devoting a lot of resources to destroy a candidate who supposedly has "no chance" of winning ; )

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

@JakeD2: "Also, I "can't" kill my parents either, but I am still against patricide."

But you could have at one point, so you get to have an opinion on that. Except you couldn't have given birth to your parents, so . . . I guess you don't get to have an opinion on that, either.

Cuz, since, you know, you can't have children, you have no right to express an opinion on whether it's a good idea to kill them or not.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | October 5, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Per the "ad wizard" (no pun intended, I'm sure) behind this campaign commercial:

"I wanted people to get to know the real Christine," Davis said in an interview. He said the ad was designed to show "that she was not what everyone thought, that she was an everywoman - with one exception. She was one of us, but was so disappointed in our government that she was moved to action, to try and do something about it."

Davis said he included that line in the script to "once and for all put that behind her, and let people know we're moving on from that to things that really matter today."

O'Donnell's ad bears a resemblance to a recent ad Davis produced for Republican Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive running for the Senate in California. Both feature the candidates, dressed elegantly and speaking directly to the camera in front of dark, foggy backdrops.

But Davis said the O'Donnell background was different, and that Fiorina's was a more elaborate production.

As for O'Donnell's straightened hair and formal attire, Davis said it was not scripted.

"The pearls, etc., are just her," Davis said. "She is literally not what everyone thinks. That's just what she wore."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/05/AR2010100503037.html

Posted by: JakeD2 | October 5, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

The trouble in being a witch and a christian is that you end up persecuting yourself.

Posted by: motown2641 | October 5, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

bzod9999:
If she is so hopeless, wouldn't your efforts to keep the loons on the left in charge be better applied making up stuff about candidates who really do have a chance (or to be charitable, pointing out their numerous flaws)? Just a thought.]]

Bzod: If the Republicans are stupid enough to nominate a dead albatross for the Senate, the Democrats will GLADLY help hang it around their necks.

Posted by: gormley14412 | October 5, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Her best line in the ad was "I'll go to Washington and do what you do." Which means she'll go to a few monuments and museums, visit some nice restaurants and have one too many adult beverages? Sounds about right!

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