Falling behind in her reelection race, Sen. Elizabeth Dole has uncorked one hell of a charge: The Democrat running against me is godless.
Dole's 30-second ad, which is running on television in North Carolina but has not (understandably) been promoted by the GOP, uses a September fundraiser co-hosted by 40 people, including a representative of the Godless America PAC, to falsely accuse Democrat Kay Hagan of being an atheist herself.
The end of the ad features a picture of Hagan with a female voice yelling "there is no God!" -- the clear implication is that the voice is Hagan's. In fact, the Democratic candidate is a Sunday School teacher and an elder at her Presbyterian church.
The Charlotte Observer reported Wednesday morning that Hagan's campaign is seeking a "cease and desist" order against Dole's new attack.
"A leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser in Kay Hagan's honor," the ad begins, showing some ominously blurred footage, ostensibly of the event in question. The ad then quotes the group's Ellen Johnson making atheist claims on two cable news shows. Summing up, the spot asks: "Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras, took Godless money. What did Hagan promise in return?"
Two weeks ago, when the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a similar attack, the Fayettville Observer described it as "the nastiest, most misleading, negative ad of the campaign."
If the spot reeks of desperation, it's not hard to understand why. According to the Pollster.com average of all surveys taken for the race, Dole fell behind Hagan in the polls in mid-September, with her position worsening ever since.
UPDATE: The Hagan campaign has issued two response ads, as well as a prepared statement to be delivered by Hagan herself.
State Senator and U.S. Senate Candidate Kay Hagan
Remarks as prepared
October 29, 2008 press conference
* Thank you for coming today. I know this was called at short notice, and I appreciate you being here for this.
* Let's get right to it. Elizabeth Dole should absolutely be ashamed of herself.
* I don't know what things were like when she grew up in North Carolina, but the North Carolina I was raised in would NEVER condone this kind of personal slander.
* I can't begin to tell you how upset I am that she has attacked my Christian faith.
* She's been in Washington for too long, gotten too close to George Bush and the special interests and this is what she's become.
* I am appalled at these tactics. This is politics of the worst kind, and it's been rejected by North Carolinians at every level. This is so unbecoming of the woman she claims to be.
* I have taught Sunday school. I'm an elder in this church, where the Hagan family has attended for over 100 years. I go on mission trips. I was raised going to Sunday school and church every week. And I raised my children that way.
* On Christmas Eve, we attend the 11:00 evening service, then early on Christmas mornings, my children and husband and I go to the Bell House and cook breakfast for the residents there. My family, my community and my church are the anchors of my life.
* If Senator Dole wants to pass judgment on my faith, that's her right - but it's not what my faith teaches.
* This is a fabricated, pathetic ad.
* I am outraged...That is not my voice at the end of the ad, and I do not share their beliefs.
* This was an event with nearly 40 hosts, including an ambassador and a sitting U.S. Senator (John Kerry).
* We have already contacted our lawyers and are proceeding with a cease and desist order sent to Elizabeth Dole.
* This kind of politics should not be tolerated.
* The politics of George Bush won't create one new job, lower the cost of health care, or do one lick of good for North Carolina.
* At their core, Americans aren't Democrat or Republican, red or blue - they're Americans, plain and simple. We ALL love our country, and we all value the role of faith in American life.
* Shame on anyone who says differently.
* Congress just had to bailout Wall Street, workers' retirement savings are out the window, people are genuinely concerned about keeping their job in this tough economic climate, and Elizabeth Dole is trying to talk about ANYTHING but the issues.
* This attack speaks volumes about her personally and politically, but more importantly, it speaks to the lack of leadership she's shown on behalf of North Carolinians. At this critical point in American history, why isn't Elizabeth Dole talking about what she's done for North Carolinians and what she's planning to do if re-elected?
* This is exactly why people in North Carolina are supporting me - I have real, concrete proposals to help fix what's broken in Washington and advocate on behalf of working families. I've been talking about the issues and ensuring North Carolinians know what real leadership looks like.
* Elizabeth Dole is just relying on the same old, tired rhetoric that divides people instead of bringing them together, and that's the last thing people in North Carolina want right now.