My home state of North Carolina is known for a few things: barbecue, college basketball, and... horrific political advertising? Yep.
Back in 1990, Jesse Helms famously skewered challenger Harvey Gantt in the infamous "White Hands" ad. That ad is now the classic example of an egregious racist ad, and is largely credited with helping Helms win.
Enter incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole, who's not nearly so lucky this year. The economy sucks, much of NC's industries have been shipped off thanks to trade policies, more folks are moving to NC all the time, Dole barely spends time in NC anyway, and Barack Obama could pull off a major upset there on Tuesday. Dole has been trailing her challenger, state senator Kay Hagan, for months. Dole's strategy to gain a last-minute edge? She went straight to the tried-and-true NC playbook with an unfair attack ad. (From Hagan's website: "Somewhere, Jesse Helms is laughing and clapping in glee.")
Watch the new standard-bearer for NC attack ads, "Godless," and a skewering courtesy of CNN's Campbell Brown:
Hagan fought back with a direct repudiation of Dole's claims in a new ad of her own, demanded that Dole remove "Godless," and filed a defamation suit. Dole has refused to budge on "Godless," even as the largest newspapers in NC have both condemned it in editorials. The Charlotte Observer wrote, "It has no place in N.C. politics. Unless she admits this egregious, shameful mistake and acts appropriately, Elizabeth Dole has no place in N.C. politics, either."
Right now, Hagan's up by 2-6 points in the latest polls. Obama's in a nail-biter - the poll average is just +2.6. Over 1/3 of all registered voters have already voted early. There are 15 electoral votes at stake.
Time (tick tock tick tock tick tock, running out) will tell.
Friday, October 31, 2008