Toil and trouble over 'I'm not a witch' ad
August 16th, 2011
12:54 PM ET
10 years ago

Toil and trouble over 'I'm not a witch' ad

(CNN) – Former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell is not a witch and says she hated the commercial that stated that fact.

Promoting her new book, Troublemaker, on several talk shows, the tea party poster-candidate admitted that the infamous spot which attempted to distance her from past comments that she'd "dabbled into witchcraft" wasn't the best choice.

"I did hate it," she told ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday.

Addressed several times in the book, O'Donnell noted that she believed the ad was a mistake and hurt her on the campaign trail.

"It was taking us, once again, off message," she said.

The ad, in which O'Donnell looked straight to the camera and said "I'm not a witch. I'm nothing you've heard. I'm you," was conceived and produced by Republican message maven Fred Davis.

On Tuesday he refused to directly respond to O'Donnell's criticisms.

"Ahhh, what colorful memories. I wish her well with her book," he told CNN.

The ad was in response to a '90's- era video clip released by Bill Maher from the archives of his show, "Politically Incorrect," where she acknowledges that in the past she had "dabbled into witchcraft" but "never joined a coven."

It became one of the most talked about commercials of the midterm elections.

She writes in the book that she "had come away thinking I never should have even read that stupid line. I'm no control freak, but here I'd ceded a bit too much of it, and now part of me felt like I was waiting for some other shoe to drop."

A different consultant familiar with the ad told CNN that O'Donnell and her team did not voice any opposition to the concept when it was first proposed and shot. The witch commercial was shot at the same time as several others.

"The scripts were presented and recorded" after only a few small word changes, the consultant said. He refused to speak on the record because it involves private discussions. There was "nothing on the overall concept" brought up, he said.

The commercial was approved by the campaign a few days after it was shot, and the process was set in motion to start getting it on the air, according to the consultant.

An e-mail from October 4th obtained by CNN from O'Donnell campaign manager Matt Moran to producer Davis and copying O'Donnell states, "Solid message Fred...well scripted and (sic) delivered."

It does make mention of O'Donnell's hair not looking great.

Her team also praised the "I'm You" theme from the commercial in a separate e-mail also obtained by CNN.

The commercial went up the morning of Oct. 5th and became the talk of the political world.

On O'Donnell now blaming the ad for the campaign's problems the consultant said, "She now blames pretty much everything in the world except the water in Delaware" for her loss.

But in her book, she takes some of the blame.

"This was not our finest campaign hour, I must admit," she writes. "By following a script I knew was all wrong. By going down a path I had no interest in taking."

The ad campaign was an effort to garner the support of national Republicans and to get some financial backing, which some in DC had been reluctant to provide because they were doubtful of her viability in the general election campaign.

After upsetting party-backed Mike Castle, a nine-term Delaware congressman and former governor, in the GOP Senate primary, O'Donnell said the National Republican Senatorial Committee balked in supporting her bid for the general election.

"We were trying to win over the NRSC," she revealed Tuesday. "They were not getting involved."

The committee donated $42,000 to O'Donnell the day after her primary win.

O'Donnell, who has now run for the Senate in Delaware three times, chalked the widely-panned commercial up as a learning experience and dished out campaign advice for other political hopefuls.

"Anyone going forward in politics needs to take a huge lesson is this and that's if you've gotten this far, trust your gut," O'Donnell advised.

Filed under: 2010 • Christine O'Donnell
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. rene

    Loved that ad and it was the inspiration of many Halloween costumes of witches with tea bags hanging from their hat.

    August 16, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. dennis freeman

    " wasn't the best choice..." Do ya think

    August 16, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. rico

    Christine who?

    August 16, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. Larry L

    What's with the Republican facination with angry women who appear to lack brains? I see this linked to their love of Ann Coutler. Maybe sexually repressed men have fantasies of witchy women with military clothing and a whip...

    August 16, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Jamie from Riverside

    But she's wrong. She is a witch.

    August 16, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. saopaco

    She turned me into a newt!

    August 16, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. andrew

    Look at that face, she is a witch. She turned me into a newt! I got better.

    August 16, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. pacchardon

    Oh!!!!! She said 'I not a WITCH'!!!! I misunderstood! Nevermind.

    August 16, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. BCA

    She also need to go back to her home state of New Jersey.

    August 16, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    They set her up to fail. LOL. That's a good one.

    August 16, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Ashley

    Who cares?!

    August 16, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. Tam

    Just that was a mistake? Her being in politics at all is the bigger one.

    August 16, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. Wellthen

    Just an example of campaign "frenzy". They all completely lose their heads when they get campaign fever. I love the commercial. I just got a great laugh thinking about it, and snl's version too.

    August 16, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. JG

    How do these idiots like this and Bachmann even get into positions of leadership in the first place? It's just further proof that the system is broken beyond repair an no longer functions as intended.

    August 16, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. Villager

    But she has the nose of a witch.

    August 16, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
1 2 3