The Weird Impact of Christine O'Donnell's 'I'm Not a Witch' Ad

Will it actually help her?

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Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell released a campaign ad Tuesday in an effort to recast herself as a mainstream politician. "I'm not a witch" begins the Republican's 30-second spot. "I'm you." Following a string of electoral setbacks, O'Donnell's fighting an uphill battle. Will this help boost her image?

  • The Ad Is Brilliant, writes Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic: "Conventional wisdom about denials in ads is true in most cases. It wouldn't be good for David Vitter to deny that he visited prostitutes, or for Charles Rangel to deny on camera that he abused power. But Christine O'Donnell is not an ordinary candidate. Democrats and media elites (and plenty of Republicans) have thrown everything at O'Donnell, some of it fair, and some of it silly. O'Donnell is obviously not a witch; indeed, the claim against her is one that she brought up, albeit years ago, on Bill Maher's show: she dabbled in witchcraft. To my secular ears, that sounds hilarious. To O'Donnell, it was a religious indiscretion, part of her journey into Christendom. Whatever it is, it's out there. It makes O'Donnell look silly. So O'Donnell's concession in the ad defuses some of the tension about her witchcraft experimentation, and it might help inoculate her against some of the more valid charges, like her propensity to fudge her resume, or maybe even her opposition to masturbation."
  • Are You Kidding? It's Disastrous, writes David Wilson at The Huffington Post:

The first sentence of the first commercial for the Republican candidate for Delaware's U.S. Senate says, "I'm not a witch." And then the rest of the commercial, including O'Donnell's appearance, the background music, and the setting all fail to get the "witch" thing out of our minds.

They put here in all-black, flatten her hair, provide a chest high close-up shot of her with a dark blue background and a spooky hypnotic image in the background, add dinner room piano music to the images, and then have her say, "I'm you." Then she smiles. I think she meant to say, "I'm just like you." ......I think.

  • She Looks Like a Witch, says Eugene Robinson on MSNBC's Morning Joe: “The lighting, the pale skin and the dark background. She looks like the question is in doubt... She looks like she might be a witch. And anytime you have to start a new ad and say, ‘I’m not a witch,’ that is not a good day.”
  • Weird But Effective, writes Mark Hemingway at The Washington Examiner: “This must begin with the strangest line ever to be uttered in the history of political ads. Still, O’Donnell needs to be humanized somewhat and this ad certainly confronts her troubled past head on. It could prove to be a smart gambit.”
  • 'She's You,' smirks Alex Altman at Time: "Although I suspect you believe in evolution."
  • She's Magic, writes Robert Stacy McCain: "With a smile like that, she’s awfully hard to hate. The Castle campaign tried to demonize her and it backfired. Maybe Baldy the Tax-Hiking Wanker will have better luck. I doubt it. She may not be a witch, but you can’t deny she’s got magic."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.