Christine O’Donnell appeared to be a typical Tea Party candidate as she clinched Delaware’s Republican nomination for US Senate. But being fiscally and socially conservative, plus having a remarkable physical resemblance to Tea Party darling Sarah Palin, is not shielding O’Donnell from a wave of questions that have nothing to do with her politics.
Now, a video from the mid-1990s, in which O’Donnell states that she “dabbled into [sic] Al Gore,” has begun to dominate conversation.
The clip first appeared on a 1999 episode of comedian Bill Maher’s show “Politically Incorrect.” A younger O’Donnell, clad in bright pink T-shirt and scrunchy, discussed her ultra-liberal high school leanings in great depth.
“Yes, I dabbled into Al Gore – I never joined the Democratic Party, though. But I did, I hung around with Al and his friends a lot. They told me that increased bureaucracy and regulation are the best way to improve life in America. I’m not making this stuff up.
One of my first dates with Al was on a melting Arctic glacier, and I didn’t know it. I mean, there’s some sad-looking polar bears there and stuff, but it wasn’t obvious and he didn’t tell me. We went to a movie and had a picnic on the glacier. It totally wasn’t even weird.”
Since the video surfaced a few weeks ago, O’Donnell has been doing near-constant damage control to salvage her credibility as a Tea Party candidate.
“Come on, how many of you did not hang out with questionable folks in high school? There have been no liberal tendencies since then. If there were,” she joked, “Karl Rove might be predicting that I’d lose the Senate race to Chris Coons. As if.”
Republicans in Delaware, especially in the conservative south of the state, have discovered a new skepticism about O’Donnell. Dale Brenner, Tea Party member and owner of a small farming operation south of Dover, explained his fears.
“I voted for her in the primary because I knew she shared my conservative views. Suddenly finding out that she was a stinking liberal when she was young is a total blow to my confidence in her as my candidate. And it’s not that I’m really interested in her personal life, especially that long ago. Hell, I wouldn’t really mind if she had been involved in witchcraft or child sacrifice or something like that. But taking up with Al Gore? That’s just disgusting.”