Christine O'Donnell walks out on Piers Morgan

Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell waves before giving her concession speech to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Dover, Del. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
Rob Carr
Christine O'Donnell
Christine O'Donnell waves before giving her concession speech to supporters, Nov. 2, 2010, in Dover, Del.
AP

If you want to sell a book, and you seek out live television platforms to do so - particularly television news chat shows hosted by former tabloid editors - you had better be prepared to discuss the most contentious themes in that book.

Christine O'Donnell was not, and the tea party darling of Delaware was prepared to leave CNN host Piers Morgan in the lurch and call him rude to avoid discussing the hot-button issue of gay marriage on Wednesday night.

O'Donnell, who tried and failed to win Vice President Joe Biden's Senate seat in November last year, is touting her new book, "Trouble Maker".

Her publicists clearly laid out ground rules for the interview with Morgan - the former editor of one of Britain's biggest tabloids who's carved a tidy career out of spilling stars' salacious secrets - which likely banned any discussion of topics not in the book.

But Morgan either chose to ignore those ground rules, the rules failed to specify that only certain topics from the book were fair game, or O'Donnell's team failed to realize the book does, in fact, address the theme of gay marriage.

Following the "warm-them-up-first" trajectory, Morgan let O'Donnell speak about her topic of preference, the state of America's finances, before getting at the social issues which he knew would make for more compelling television.

"The reality is our country is going bankrupt," O'Donnell said in a jab at President Obama's leadership. "Our country is on the brink of collapsing. This is a very grave situation."

But it wasn't long before Morgan brought up O'Donnell's previous remarks about masturbation and her Catholic-rooted beliefs regarding homosexuality and marriage.

"I obviously want to talk about the issue that I talk about in the book," she warned Morgan.

"Do you answer that question in the book?" Morgan fired back.

"I talk about my religious beliefs, yeah," she said, before quickly attempting to re-shift the focus onto her book's goal of bolstering tea party members in their effort to "bring America back to the second American revolution. That's my goal, that's my focus right now."

It was not, however, what Morgan wanted to focus on, so he tried again on the gay marriage theme by asking O'Donnell whether she agreed with Michele Bachmann's stance on the military's soon-to-be-repealed "don't ask don't tell" policy.

At this, O'Donnell became visibly annoyed, but forced a laugh and refused to answer the question, again pointing out the fact that she was "not talking about policies" (at least, not the policies she didn't want to talk about) as she's not running for office.

Morgan's next question likely marked the beginning of the end of his interview: "Why are you being so weird about this?"

"I'm not being weird about this, Piers. I'm not running for office, I'm not promoting a legislative agenda. I'm promoting the policies that I lay out in the book, that are mostly fiscal, that are mostly constitutional. That's why I agreed to come on your show, that's what I want to talk about. I'm not being weird, you're being a little rude," she told the host.

"I think I'm being rather charming and respectful," retorted a seemingly confused Morgan, in a way that only an Englishman could.

"Don't you think as a host, if I say this is what I want to talk about, that's what we should address?"

"No," replied Morgan.

"Have you read the book?" asked O'Donnell.

"Yes, but these issues are in your book, that's my point. You do talk about them," he pleaded, but by this stage it was too late.

The camera on O'Donnell had pulled away, she was taking her microphone off, and the interview was over.

Here's the video:

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.