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Christine O'Donnell: "I'm not a witch"

Marketing consultant Christine O'Donnell (R) takes her negative public image on directly in the first ad of her general election bid for Delaware's Senate seat, declaring: "I'm not a witch."

The line refers to a clip of O'Donnell from a 1990s appearance on Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" in which she said she had "dabbled in witchcraft."

That quote -- along with swirling questions about resume inflation and O'Donnell's personal finances -- has dominated the press coverage of her campaign since she pulled off an improbable upset of Rep. Mike Castle in the Sept. 14 Republican primary.

The ad, which was produced by Fred Davis, is an attempt to re-shape O'Donnell's image for Delaware voters. O'Donnell, framed by a dark background and looking directly into the camera, says: "I am nothing you've heard...I'm you." (The ad bears a striking resemblance in visuals -- if not script -- to Davis-produced ads for California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina.)

O'Donnell quickly pivots to cast herself as an outsider against "politicians who think spending, trading favors and backroom deals are the way to stay in office." The commercial ends with O'Donnell reiterating: "I'm you."

It's an effective ad that both softens the sharper edges of O'Donnell's public persona while also trying to turn her outsider credentials in her favor.

While the ad will get oodles of media attention, it's important to remember that polling shows Democrat Chris Coons with a comfortable lead and national Republicans have given no indication that they plan to spend money on ads in the Delaware Senate race.

O'Donnell is a media phenomenon to be sure but she is not, yet, a serious challenger for the seat. Her campaign hopes this ad changes that.

By Chris Cillizza  | October 4, 2010; 9:52 PM ET
Categories:  Republican Party  
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