From Affleck To Al Franken, How Christine O’Donnell Capitalized On Her Star Power

When she ran for Senate in 2006, Christine O’Donnell made sure the first line of her bio page indicated she was on the verge of celebrity:

Ben Affleck called her sassy.

Al Franken described her as “the girl you hate to love.”

In her 2008 campaign bio, she went with a similar theme:

Even Democratic strategist James Carville was forced to admit of Christine O’Donnell ‘Now, this is one hip woman,’ on CNN’s Crossfire.

(We asked Franken’s office about this, and they declined to comment. Affleck’s publicist hasn’t responded.)

O’Donnell rubbed elbows with stars in her 22 appearances on “Politically Incorrect,” and she was quickly recognized by CNN as someone with star power who could appear on television. O’Donnell recently told the Associated Press that as a college student she had a chance meeting with a CNN producer on the floor of the 1992 Republican National Convention and her television pundit career was born.

“She liked what I happened to say,” O’Donnell told the AP. She said after than, her name was “circulated” among producers. She didn’t even need an agent.

“That’s how it works; that’s how it still works,” O’Donnell told the AP. “You get on one producer’s Rolodex, and that gets shared with all the other producers, and if that producer goes to another show or another network, it just kind of spreads exponentially.”

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Christine O’Donnell: Anti-Masturbation Crusader. Witchcraft Dabbler. Republican Senate Nominee.]

O’Donnell wasn’t kidding when she boasted of all of her appearances, according to an archived 2004 bio for her socially conservative nonprofit SALT.

She noted that she appeared on “MTV, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNBC, ‘Leeza,’ ABC’s ‘Extra,’ CBN’s ‘700 CLUB,’ and ABC’s ‘Politically Incorrect.'” And even though some of those clips have surfaced to O’Donnell’s detriment, forcing her to use her first television ad for Senate to defend herself, they helped usher her onto the national stage and built communication skills she’s used to try and charm voters.

As she put in in her SALT bio:

O’Donnell is an articulate debater and her convictions are always shared with passion and energy. When she makes a stand on an issue, you can trust that she will not be moved from her position no matter the intensity of opposition she faces, making her a leader with integrity and character.

And on her ZoomInfo profile:

She has debated foreign and domestic policy against the nation’s foremost experts and is surprisingly well liked amongst liberal political commentators and bloggers.

O’Donnell worked on conservative and Republican issues and campaigns, according to her many bios.

At a closer glance, just like her storied educational history, and the various religions with which she dabbled, some of these claims on O’Donnell’s long resume are difficult to verify.

On a ZoomInfo profile the company says was verified by O’Donnell, she described her position with “The Passion of the Christ” in detail:

A devout Catholic, Christine combined her faith with her God given talent working as an independent marketing consultant on Mel Gibson’s breakthrough film The Passion of the Christ. In addition to developing the pre-release marketing campaign and advanced ticketing program, Christine was also the marketing and media director of the book tour for Inside the Passion, the critically acclaimed best seller offering a behind the scenes look at the making of the film.

But it took multiple phone calls for an Icon Productions publicist to admit — while refusing to disclose her own name — that O’Donnell was a “marketing consultant” on the film. Three different Icon representatives declined to detail the nature of O’Donnell’s job, with one saying “no comment, we can’t really verify that, I’m just not talking,” before hanging up on a TPM reporter.

Her 2008 campaign bio describes O’Donnell as “participating in regular White House and Capitol Hill strategy meetings.”

She also wrote that she was key in the 1994 GOP takeover, a claim that is not included on her current campaign site.

In the early nineties Christine worked at the Republican National Committee developing the marketing strategy that then Chairman Haley Barbour (current Mississippi Governor) directly credited as having a key role in the historic ’94 Republican Congressional sweep.

TPM has been checking in with Republican sources for weeks on that claim. While they are hesitant to say anything negative about O’Donnell since she became the nominee, none remember her has having such a “key role.”

In her campaign bio written in 2008 for the ZoomInfo page, she talked about working on a book that was to be published that year before the election. It was called “Loving the F-Word: Rediscovering Modern Feminism.” A campaign spokesman hasn’t responded to queries about whether the book was ever completed or published.

On her 2008 campaign MySpace page, O’Donnell says Gloria Steinem is the person she’d most like to meet. “Although we disagree on policy, I admire Ms. Steinem’s lifestory, and feats against great odds. She’s ‘the person I’d most like to meet.'”

Our full coverage of this race is here.

Additional reporting by Jon Terbush and David Kurtz