The media and most viewers of the Oct. 19 Delaware Senate debate thought Republican Christine O’Donnell’s question about the First Amendment directed at Democrat Chris Coons was a pretty epic gaffe for the hardcore tea party favorite and Constitution proponent.
O’Donnell did not see it that way, however.
“It’s really funny the way that the media reports things,” O’Donnell told ABC News this morning. “After that debate my team and I we were literally high fiving each other thinking that we had exposed he doesn’t know the First Amendment, and then when we read the reports that said the opposite we were all like ‘what?’”
As a refresher, here’s how we reported the moment at the Oct. 19 debate:
“You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?” O’Donnell asked, when Coons brought up the fact that the very First Amendment to the Constitution “bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion.”
O’Donnell told ABC News “her line of questioning to Coons was not because she didn’t know the First Amendment, but to the make the point the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear anywhere in the Constitution.” (As ABC’s Jon Karl and Gregory Simmons point out in their report, “the Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment’s declaration that Congress ‘shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion’ as a legal separation between government and faith.”)
“I asked him where in the Constitution is the phrase ‘separation of church and state,’” O’Donnell explained. “He said the First Amendment. I followed up with, ‘Can you name the five freedoms that are guaranteed to us that are protected by the First Amendment?’ And he could not.”
Watch (First Amendment stuff starts at about 2:30):
The TPM Poll Average shows Coons leading the Delaware Senate race by a margin of 55.5-37.2.