Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party candidate running for Senate in Delaware, has been widely mocked by the media for her wacky statements about mice with human brains and her claims to have "dabbled" in witchcraft. But her latest wild story actually appears to have a germ of truth.
"If both the House and the Senate pass legislation to repeal the health care bill," O'Donnell told an audience of Delaware Republicans on Wednesday, "and then Barack Obama thumbs his nose to the will of the people and vetoes that bill right before his re-election -- I've already seen some Hillary Clinton ads. There are a lot of Democrats who don't want this. If he has the audacity to ignore a very clear message from the people, he's making his re-election very uncertain."
During an interview Thursday with CNN, O'Donnell repeated her insistence that the prospect of a Republican-controlled Congress repealing the Obama administration's health care reform next year was "absolutely realistic." because "if Barack Obama vetoes that the year before his re-election, he's setting himself up to be very vulnerable -- and I've seen many Hillary for President ads running."
"What on God's tiny blue earth is she talking about?," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked after playing a clip of O'Donnell's remarks. "This is now so weird I don't trust my own ears."
Political website the Hill also picked up on the CNN interview, tartly noting, "It's not clear what ads O'Donnell was referring to and she didn't elaborate." And FirstRead at MSNBC.com quoted the Hill's comment in a roundup of election news on Friday morning.
The truth is, however, that there actually has been a "Hillary for President" ad around this fall -- though Clinton herself has no connection to it. According to a September 2 story at CNN, New Orleans television had recently been running a pro-Hillary ad which a Chicago dentist named William DeJean had produced with his own money.
"She has more experience working in and with the White House than most living presidents," the ad stated. "She is one of the most admired women in our nation's history. Let's make sure the president we should have elected in 2008 will be on the ballot in 2012. Hillary 2012."
DeJean, who had previously paid to run pro-Clinton ads in 2008, told CNN, "I'm a dentist and I don't think this country is headed in the right direction."
O'Donnell has previously expressed confusion about Clinton, naming her in an interview last week with the New York Times when asked who in the Senate she most admires. "She is a woman in a man’s world, holding her own," Ms. O’Donnell stated. "As one woman who is also taking some flak and stepping into the political arena, I deeply admire that."
In this case, however, O'Donnell appears to be correct about the existence of a pro-Hillary ad -- although it's not apparent that she personally could have seen "many" such ads running on television.
It's possible that O'Donnell was elaborating on the story, as she apparently did in that same New York Times interview when she described her father as a television actor who had taken on a number of small roles before working his way up to play Bozo the Clown. Daniel O'Donnell has since clarified his daughter's remarks, acknowledging that he was at best a substitute Bozo on a small television station in Jenkintown, PA.
"I was doing things in community theater and a friend of mine worked there who knew that I could relate to children very well," O'Donnell told the Philadelphia Daily News, explaining how he had filled in briefly when the regular Bozo had a role in a Broadway play.
It seems that O'Donnell's account of Clinton's presidential ambitions, like her story about her father's stint as Bozo, has been somewhat embroidered -- but not made up out of whole cloth.
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Oct. 7, 2010.