O'Donnell, Coons meet face to face

WILMINGTON, Del. - September 16, 2010

In their first face to face meeting since the start of the general election, Democrat Chris Coons and Republican Christine O'Donnell squared off on a laundry list of pressing political topics.

On healthcare:

"I support in advocating for the full repeal of this bill," O'Donnell said.

"Unlike others who think the best path forward is to repeal the landmark healthcare reform bill that was passed this past year, I would work to implement it responsibly," Coons said.

On immigration reform:

"I think we need a few steps that together would make up strong, humane, and effective immigration reform," Coons said.

"The question is how do you define that? I do not support giving rewards to those who have broken our laws," O'Donnell said.

And a host of other hot button issues that exposed deep policy differences between the two.

But as revelations of controversial past statements dog the newly minted candidacy of Tea Party Activist Christine O'Donnell, in particular a 1996 MTV appearance in which she talks about what she calls sinful sexual behavior, a rare moment of personal agreement.

"These questions come from statements I made over 15 years ago, I was in my 20's and very excited and passionate about my new found faith," O'Donnell said.

"I don't think they're particularly interested in statements that either of us made 20, 30 years ago," Coons said.

The race between O'Donnell and Coons has been at the center of the national political conversation.

While they shared the stage with little other candidates for Delaware offices, these two shared little else.

"In my view, government can be an important ally in protecting of all us in providing for our future," Coons said.

"The federal government was never intended as invasive and intrusive into our daily lives as it is now," O'Donnell said.

Two distinct messages met with distinctly difference audience response.

More reaction over O'Donnell's primary win

There's been a lot of buzz about Christine O'Donnell's victory over Mike Castle.

The first Rasmussen Reports survey shows O'Donnell trailing Democrat Chris Coons by 11 points with only 4 percent undecided.

Of course, there are still seven weeks to go before Election Day.

O'Donnell's tiny headquarters was relatively quiet this day as staffers look for a larger office in Wilmington and downstate.

Her website says she's raised $1-million since Tuesday's victory.

O'Donnell's top advisors told Action News they'd have her behind closed doors all day, preparing her for tonight's candidate forum featuring her and Democratic nominee Chris Coons.

O'Donnell's win is still the hottest topic among Republicans.

"I'm a registered Republican, voted for Castle, I think the failure to elect Castle as the individual that was going to run against Coons dramatically increases Coons' position," Rich Rollo of Wilmington said.

"She'll go in and at least we know we'll have someone that votes conservative which is what we want; we don't want Obama and his socialist agenda," Ken Judson of Wilmington said.

The state party chairman Tom Ross who said last week O'Donnell could not get elected dog catcher is now changing his tune.

In a written statement he said, "After a hard fought primary, it is time to come together and unite…the winds of change are blowing hard in Delaware...I will honor my commitment to our party's grass roots activists."

O'Donnell's hard line views are attracting national attention especially her long crusade for pre-marital abstinence including the proclamation that masturbation is sinful.

With a double digit lead in the polls, Democrat Coons isn't touching that issue.

"I don't think that's relevant; I frankly don't think the average Delawarean is concerned about that. What they want to hear is how are you getting back to me work, how are you going to restore manufacturing, how are you going to make this place competitive, how are you going to fix our schools," Coons said.

"There's a stark enough contrast between the positions of my Democrat opponent and me that we can go forward into the general, making it about the issues," O'Donnell said.

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