Chris Coons on Christine O’Donnell: ‘She’s Not Me, and She’s Not Delaware’

By Jared

Oct 13, 2010 1:12pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: With his first general election debate tonight, Democratic Senate candidate Chris Coons is seeking to keep the focus on Delaware issues and voters, even as his Republican opponent, Christine O’Donnell, has drawn his race national attention. Though O’Donnell declares “I’m you” to Delaware voters in a much-watched ad where she also declares “I’m not a witch,” Coons told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today that his opponent does not represent Delaware’s values. O’Donnell’s only job in recent years, Coons said, has been “running for the US Senate three times.” “She’s not me, and she’s not Delaware,” Coons said. “Delaware is a state of neighbors. This is a small state where folks build ties over many, many years, and where folks who want to serve us – as a volunteer or an elected official – spend a lot of time investing in, and building community. And supporting Delaware’s unique culture.” “She ran a nasty campaign against Mike Castle that featured some slanderous personal attacks. And best I can tell as I’ve tried to get to know her and her record, in the last five years Ms. O’Donnell’s only employment has been running for the US Senate three times. That’s not the sort of record of volunteerism, of civic engagement, of running something that most folks in Delaware look for in folks that are going to be leaders in our community.”     Coons, the county executive of New Castle County, Del., said money from outside Delaware funded O’Donnell’s upset victory over Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., in the GOP primary last month. “I had thought it was possible that she was going to make it a close contest. I really didn’t expect her to win in the primary. And I think part of why she did was outside money,” he said. “Folks from South Carolina and Alaska, and PACs affiliated with them came in and ran some ads in the last week or 10 days. And that’s what helped put her over the top. So I was surprised. I had expected a tough uphill race, but I thought I could win against Congressman Mike Castle.” With O’Donnell attacking Coons as “The Taxman” in her latest ads, Coons said he welcomes the chance to “talk about my real record” as county executive. “That ad just gets it flat out wrong. It claims that I drove the county to bankruptcy, and that I squandered a large surplus, when exactly the opposite is the case.” The solutions he implemented included deep budget cuts, in addition to a tax increase, he said. “Yes, taxes were raised. Today … the average homeowner pays $502 a year in county property taxes.” Coons also disputed suggestions that upcoming campaign visits for him by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden suggest that he’s in danger of losing his race. "That’s a sign that the vice president – who represented Delaware ably in the U.S. Senate for 36 years – is committed to being a part of the general election campaign here. That’s a commitment he made some time ago, and I’m grateful that the president and vice president are coming to Delaware,” he said. And Coons said he hasn’t yet thought about who might play him on “Saturday Night Live.” (Kristen Wiig has twice played O’Donnell on “SNL.”) “I’ll spend some time on that this afternoon, while I’m in debate prep," Coons said. Also today on “Top Line,” we checked in with Shane D’Aprile of The Hill about the outlook for the mid-term elections, including a fresh round of polling in key congressional districts now held by Democrats.

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