During a nationally televised debate Wednesday night, Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell would not answer if she still believes that evolution is a “myth,” as she claimed on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher nearly two decades ago.
Asked by co-moderator Wolf Blitzer to clarify her position on the issue, the Republican candidate for a Senate seat from Delaware responded by saying she had made the “myth” comment during a discussion about the teaching of evolution and creationism in a particular school district.
Pressed again by Blitzer to give a yes or no answer, O’Donnell responded: “What I believe is irrelevant.” She went on to say that she would support policies that would allow school districts to decide for themselves whether to teach evolution.
O’Donnell then turned the discussion to opponent Chris Coons’ referring to himself, in a college academic paper, as a “bearded Marxist.”
“I would argue that more people support my Catholic-based beliefs than [Coons’] Marxist beliefs,” O’Donnell said.
Of his remark, Coons said it was “clearly a joke. … I am not now, nor have I ever been anything other than a clean-shaven capitalist,” Coons asserted.
CNN broadcast the first 45 minutes of the debate live — an unusual event, given that statewide race debates are rarely broadcast on national TV, testifying to the high profile O’Donnell has achieved since her improbable victory in the Republican primary.
During a discussion of economic issues, O’Donnell asserted that the stimulus package passed by Congress in early 2009 “cost us 2.6 million jobs.” She also made an unusual claim about debt levels, stating that when a country’s debt hits 100 percent of its GDP, its economy collapses (Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 190 percent; Italy’s is around 115 percent.)
O’Donnell was noncommittal when asked by Blitzer to name specific government spending she would cut to balance the budget.
For his part, Coons lamented the media attention being paid to such issues as O’Donnell’s “dabbling in witchcraft” as a youth and urged the debate to focus on substantial issues.
“You’re just jealous you weren’t on Saturday Night Live,” a smiling O’Donnell joked.