The North Carolina Senate race is one of the most critical this year. It’s one of the closest, and now it’s one of the most brutal. By many accounts, Republican Elizabeth Dole should have been a shoo-in for reelection. Instead, she is locked in a fierce battle with Democratic State Senator Kay Hagan.
Dole is part of a legendary American political couple. Her husband Bob was Senate Majority Leader and, on separate occasions, his party’s nominee for Vice-president and President.
Elizabeth has a resume just as impressive: Two cabinet posts, president of the American Red Cross and a seat in the U.S. Senate. She ran for President once, as well, and if not for her age of 72, she would have been John McCain’s best choice for a running mate this year.
Dole should have been coasting toward reelection. North Carolina is traditionally a Republican state. Instead, Democrats have made huge inroads. First, Dole led the disastrous national Republican Senate campaign in which the party lost power. Second, Barack Obama showed surprising strength in North Carolina, so much so that the state is now rated as a toss-up between him and John McCain. Third, the Democratic National Committee and friends poured millions into the campaign of the little-known Hagan. Now, she’s a household name.
And that brings us to the famed “Godless” ad. Hagan went to a fundraiser sponsored by a woman who leads a group known as “Godless Americans.” Among other things, the group advocates total separation of church and state and removal of the words “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency. Attending the event was a poor choice on Hagan’s part, and Dole launched a controversial TV ad, questioning the depth of Hagan’s faith.
Hagan, who is an Elder in her Presbyterian Church, responded by filing a lawsuit, claiming libel and defamation of character against Dole. “Elizabeth Dole’s attacks on my Christian faith are offensive,” Ms. Hagan said in her response to the “New York Times.” “She even faked my voice in her TV ad to make you think I don’t believe in God.”
“Well, I believe in God,” Hagan continued. “I taught Sunday school. My faith guides my life, and Senator Dole knows it. Sure, politics is a tough business; but I approve this message because my campaign is about creating jobs and fixing our economy – not bearing false witness against fellow Christians.”
The Dole campaign stands by the ad and calls Hagan’s lawsuit a “political stunt.” Dole issued a follow-up TV ad known as “Godless 2,” which I have included above.
The whole mess may be backfiring on Dole. Her poll numbers have dropped since the "Godless" controversy began. The latest Research 2000 Poll has it Hagan 50 percent, Dole 45 percent.
This race is crucial and could help determine whether Democrats win a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
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