Paul Debate Stomping Caps an Odd Campaign Year

Photo: Strangest Moments of the 2010 Election Season: Nazi Uniforms, Witchcraft Denials, and Obscenity Charges: The Year in PoliticsPlayABC News
WATCH Scuffle Targets Woman at Rand Paul Rally

A volunteer for Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul who was videotaped wrestling a liberal protester to the ground and stepping on her head said it was not as bad as it looked and offered an apology.

"I'm sorry that it came to that, and I apologize if it appeared overly forceful, but I was concerned about Rand's safety," Tim Profitt told The Associated Press.

Lexington, Ky., police said Proffitt, of Paris, has been served a criminal summons to appear before a Fayette District Judge on an assault complaint.

Lauren Valle, of the progressive group, was wearing a wig and said she planned to present the tea party-backed candidate with a fake award before a debate with Democratic candidate Jack Conway Monday night in Lexington.

Photo: Strangest Moments of the 2010 Election Season: Nazi Uniforms, Witchcraft Denials, and Obscenity Charges: The Year in PoliticsPlay
Woman Stomped on at Rand Paul Rally

Television footage shows Valle's blonde wig being pulled off before she's pinned to the ground. A man then puts his foot down on her head a couple times and presses down on her.

Valle said the incident left her with "a bit of headache" but the incident did not require any extra medical attention. Paul's campaign released a statement calling the altercation "incredibly unfortunate" and expressed relief that Valle was not injured.

Around the country and across the aisle, this year has seen its share of offbeat candidates, ardent supporters, and groan-inducing gaffes.

As next Tuesday's election gets closer, tensions have risen across the country and campaigns -- and candidates -- have reacted in ways ranging from the outrageous to the outlandish.

In no particular order, presents the Most Colorful Campaign Moments of 2010:

The Madam, the Panther and 'The Rent Is Too Damn High'

At New York's only gubernatorial debate Republican Carl Paladino and Democrat Andrew Cuomo were joined by five minority party candidates -- one seemingly more eccentric than the next.

Candidates at the October debate included a convicted madam running on a legalize-pot platform, a Green party candidate who has a day job at UPS, a Black Panther turned city councilman, a Libertarian lawyer who moonlights as a screenwriter, and a self professed karate expert with an outlandish mustache and a single message: "The rent is too damn high."

Kristin Davis, a former madam who claims to have procured prostitutes for former NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer, quipped she was the only candidate with experience enough to handle the "whores" in state capital. But, the breakout star of the debate was Jimmy McMillan, a retired mailman and founder of the Rent is Too Damn High Party, who wore gloves during the debate, advocated bulldozing mountains in upstate New York and ended each of his rambling responses the same way: "the rent is too damn high."

Also, Tea Party favorite Paladino left the stage to use the bathroom as other candidates were making their closing statements.

Rich Iott's Nazi Uniform

When photographs surfaced last week of House candidate Rich Iott wearing a Nazi uniform, the Ohio Republican admitted it was him with the SS insignia on his lapel, but called the images' publication "false character attacks."

Iott insisted his interest in Nazi Germany was purely historical. In a statement, he said he joined a historical reenactment group to bond with his son and had not meant to offend anyone.

But he also told The Atlantic, which broke the story, that he had "always been fascinated" with Nazi Germany's ability to "from a strictly military point of view accomplish incredible things."

"I Am Not a Witch."

Christine O'Donnell beat the odds, defeating an established opponent to secure the Republican nomination for Senate in Delaware.

A Tea Party favorite, O'Donnell ran on many of the conservative issues she had long championed as a television pundit. Her campaign drew additional national attention when comedian Bill Maher began releasing clips of O'Donnell from his 1990s television program, "Politically Incorrect." Her decade-old quotes, which included condemning masturbation and admitting to having "dabbled" in witchcraft as a teenager, became fodder for headlines and punchlines.

Earlier this month, O'Donnell released an ad with an opening line never before spoken in a political commercial: "I am not a witch." The ad sparked a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, countless YouTube parodies, and overnight turned her into a national phenomenon.

Alvin Greene Is on the Scene

One of the earliest signs that 2010 was going to be different occurred in June, when Alvin Greene, an unemployed veteran facing obscenity charges won the Democratic primary for Senate in South Carolina. Greene secured the nomination without making a single speech, planting a lawn sign or creating a Website.

Greene has operated his general election campaign in much the same way he ran his primary bid, shunning the press and barely campaigning. Greene has emerged only a handful of times from the campaign office he runs inside his father's house.

He addressed a local chapter of the NAACP, told a British newspaper he would grow jobs in South Carolina by having residents produce action figures in his likeness, and gave his seal of approval to a promotional rap video posted on YouTube called "Alvin Greene Is on The Scene."

Carl Paladino's Blustery Language

New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino rode a wave of conservative outrage to win his party's nomination, and has made no apologies for his in-your-face campaign style.

Before winning the nomination, Paladino was dogged by a series of offensive emails he had forwarded along to friends, which included doctored images of President Obama and Michelle Obama dressed stereotypically as a pimp and prostitute, and undoctored images of a woman having sex with a horse.

Paladino has made national headlines since winning the primary, most recently for using a four-letter word to describe his feelings about proposed terror trials held in New York City. In September, he threatened to "take out" a New York Post reporter, who asked about his baseless accusation that Democratic challenger Andrew Cuomo had cheated on his ex-wife while they were married.

The Rumble in Connecticut

Both of the candidates in Connecticut's Senate election have done enough to open themselves up to attack, resulting in one of closest fought races in the country.

Democrat Dick Blumenthal was caught on tape suggesting that as a young Marine he had fought in Vietnam. Blumenthal who served in the reserves, but was never deployed overseas, later apologized, saying he "misspoke."

His opponent Linda McMahon, helped found World Wrestling Entertainment, and has been forced to defend her record as the head of that organization, explaining why she fought anti-steroids legislation and put her daughter in the ring while a crowd shouted "slut."

Jan Brewer's 'Brain Freeze'

Gov. Jan Brewer was burned less by what she said than by what she didn't say at an Arizona gubernatorial debate that quickly caught fire on the Internet.

In a televised September debate, the Republican incumbent who signed into law the country's toughest immigration measure, had a self-described "brain freeze," staring silently into the camera for nearly 10 seconds in the middle of her opening statement.

Following the debate, reporters reiterated a question Brewer dodged during the debate about baseless allegations she made regarding illegal immigrants carrying out beheadings in the Arizona desert. Rather than answer, she again froze, and walked away.

"Your God... Aqua Buddha"

A close watched debate in Kentucky between Tea Party backed Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Jack Conway became heated when it focused not on a policy issue, but a prank Paul pulled in college.

At the debate Conway struck the same chord as a commercial he has been running, hammering Paul for prank kidnapping and accusing him idol worship. "When is it ever a good idea to tie up a woman and ask her to kneel before a false idol, your god, which you call Aqua Buddha," Conway asked.

Rather than just slough off the criticism, Paul got angry and refused to shake hands with Conway following the debate.

That 'Hicky Blue Collar Look'

An ad, depicting three regular Joes, intended to attack Gov. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., blew up in the face of its Republican backers once reporters got a hold of the casting call for the actors in the commercial.

Once it was made public that the National Republican Senatorial Committee advertised for actors with a "'Hicky' Blue Collar look," Manchin pounced on Republican opponent John Raese saying: "Our whole frame on Raese is that he doesn't understand working people."

Raese, for his part, also denounced the ad, saying he had nothing to do with it and warned the NRSC to pull the commercial before it ran.

Scott McAdams... Who?

You know your chances of victory are slim when the spokesman for your party doesn't even know your name.

The two headliners out of the Alaska Senate primary were incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowsi and the Tea Party Candidate who defeated her, Joe Miller. Both candidates being Republicans, in a traditionally Republican-leaning state, there was little mention of the Democrat challenger.

So little mention in fact, that when DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse appeared on ABC News' "Top Line," he couldn't even name his own party's candidate.

"Well, our candidate in Alaska ... his name is not Lisa Murkowski," was the best Woodhouse could muster -- much to the enjoyment of conservative bloggers.

Oh yeah, his name is Scott McAdams.

Nevada's Ad Wars

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that one of the most contested races in the country has turned out some of the most contentious advertising.

Republican Sharron Angle accused Democrat Sen. Harry Reid of using tax payer dollars to buy Viagra for convicted sex offenders.

"Here's the kicker: Reid actually voted to use taxpayer dollars to pay for Viagra for convicted child molesters and sex offenders," intones the ad's voiceover.

Reid voted to table an amendment to the health care bill that would bar prescribing Viagra to sex offenders, but the amendment was offered as a Republican trick to derail the Democrat's health care reform bill.

Reid, however, is no stranger to similar attacks. In an earlier ad, he accused Angle of attempting to derail a state law that would have effectively turned Nevada into a "safe haven for domestic abusers."

The YouTube Candidates

Advertising, once the most expensive aspect of a campaign has, with the advent of video sharing Web sites like YouTube, become a cheap way for a canidate -- any candidate -- to get out their message.

Dale Peterson, a failed candidate for Agriculture Commissioner in Alabama, posted several videos to YouTube while he was running, but he posted the one that would generate the most buzz only after he was out of the running. In an edorsement for a one-time rival, Peterson brandishes a rifle calls another opponent a "dummy... [who] can got back to his chicken farm" and then fires a round at an actor stealing a political yard sign.

Like Peterson, Pam Gorman, a Republican from Arizona running for Congerss also used YouTube to prove she was a candidate of high "calibre." In a Internet video titled "Driving the Left Nuts," Gorman fires a tommy gun, two pistols, and an assault rifle and is described as a "conservative Christian and pretty fair shot."

Basil Marceaux, a Tennessee Republican who lost races for governor and the House, nevertheless became an Internet sensation. Marceaux's platforms -- including requiring everyone to carry a gun, pardoning the crimes of anyone who voted for him, and banning American flags with gold fringe -- made him a viral video sensation.

An Old Timer Returns

This year's midterms were distinguished too by at least one feel-good tale from the campaign trail.

With little shot of securing the nomination, 95-year-old Ken Hechler ran in the Democratic Senate primary in West Virginia hoping to replace the youthful 92-year-old Sen. Robert Bird.

"People that have seen me in action say I might be old chronologically, but I have the mind, the heart, the passion, the articulation of a 35-year-old," Hechler said.

The veteran Democratic pol, who was first elected to the House in 1958 and served alongside Byrd in Congress for 18 years, ultimately lost the nomination to Gov. Joe Manchin.