BY BOB HOLT
Coming off her victory in the GOP primary, Senate Republican nominee Christine O'Donnell and her Democratic opponent Chris Coons met Thursday night for their first candidate forum.
O'Donnell, a 41-year-old conservative originally from Moorestown, is making her third run for the senate in as many elections with the backing of the Tea Party Express and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Cbs3.com reports that Coons took a veiled jab at O'Donnell in his opening statement, saying Delaware's next senator should be somebody who is "prepared" and has concrete ideas.
O'Donnell tried to dispel the negative scrutiny of comments from her religious right activism in the 1990s — asking the people to look past her wild 20s of non-sex and anti-masturbation zealotry. She insists that her statements were made over 15 years ago, and her faith has matured since.
Revelations of controversial past statements follow O'Donnell, mainly a 1996 MTV appearance in which she talks about what she calls sinful sexual behavior. According to myfoxphilly, O'Donnell first offered her views on masturbation in an MTV documentary called ‘Sex in the 90's" contending "the Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery" and that "You can't masturbate without lust."
TPMDC.com reports Coons agreed with his opponent, saying that voters weren't going to look at statements that either candidate made 20 or 30 years ago. O'Donnell thanked Coons for wanting to stick to the issues.
At the forum, the candidates discussed a lengthy list of pressing political topics. According to 6abc.com, on healthcare, O'Donnell supported the full repeal of the bill, while Coons felt he would work to implement it responsibly.
On immigration, Coons said the country needs a few steps that together would make up strong, humane, and effective immigration reform. O'Donnell questioned how that would be defined, saying she does not support giving rewards to those who have broken our laws.
O'Donnell acknowledged that there's been an unflattering portrait of her painted these days. But she still has plenty of support from her hometown. She hails from the Lenola section of Moorestown, and graduated from Moorestown High School in 1987. Former classmates said O'Donnell should not be underestimated.
"If you knew her you wouldn't be surprised. When she sets her mind to something she gets it done," said Joe Volpe, a former classmate who now lives in Mount Laurel, told the Courier Post.
O'Donnell's parents still reside in Lenola. Neighbors who've watched O'Donnell's rise with interest said the O'Donnells mainly keep to themselves.
Following her surprise victory Tuesday night, the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced Wednesday that it would send her "Tea Party Express"-backed campaign $42,000, the maximum allowable donation the committee has given to all Republican nominees. But mycentraljersey.com reports the announcement came after reports that the committee would shun her campaign, providing no funding, and after its chairman expressed doubts about her electability.
"Let there be no mistake: The National Republican Senatorial Committee -— and I personally as the committee's chairman — strongly stand by all of our Republican nominees, including Christine O'Donnell in Delaware," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a statement Wednesday.
A poll conducted last weekend and released today by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, shows Coons leading O'Donnell 50 to 34 percent.