Bob Dole defends 'Godless' TV ad
(Fayetteville Observer, The (Fayetteville, NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Nov. 1--Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole campaigned for his wife Friday in Fayetteville and defended a controversial TV ad that has Democrats up in arms.
Dole's wife, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, is in a bitter battle with Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan for the Senate seat.
The controversial ad, which began airing this week, questions Hagan's link to Godless Americans, a political action committee that endorses secular rights.
Hagan says the ad questions her faith and has filed court papers claiming it defames her character.
But Bob Dole disagrees.
"It never questions her faith," he said, speaking to volunteers at the GOP headquarters in McPherson Square shopping center.
What it questions, Dole said, is Hagan's attendance at a fundraiser in Boston on Sept. 15 that was co-hosted by a member of the Godless Americans advisory board.
"The issue is why was she there," Dole said. "There's no question about her faith. I think it's (the ad) fair game."
Hagan got the first shot, he said, by criticizing Elizabeth Dole for attending a fundraiser in Florida and taking out-of-state campaign donations.
And he drew applause from the group when he talked about Hagan's out-of-state campaign money that has boosted her coffers to $24 million.
"I don't think this seat's for sale," he said.
Dole, 85, offered up his take on the presidential race and the role North Carolina will play.
"I think North Carolina will be key in the presidential race," he said, recalling the state's role in the 1976 GOP primary in which then-incumbent Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan squared off.
Reagan's bid had been written off by many until North Carolina's Republicans, in an upset, voted for the former California governor.
Ford went on to narrowly capture the GOP nomination and picked Dole as his running mate. They were defeated by Democrat Jimmy Carter.
In between his political prognostications, Dole kept the local GOP supporters laughing with his one-liners.
Dole said he had looked for ways to stump for his wife and help in her re-election bid.
"But I didn't ask (Bill) Clinton about it. He didn't really help Hillary. But I've got to believe his heart was in it," Dole said.
He and Clinton are friends, he said, and have worked together to raise money for charitable causes.
And Dole's former next-door neighbor at one time was none other than Monica Lewinsky, whose dalliances with Clinton led to his impeachment in the House of Representatives. The Senate acquitted him.
"I never had a conversation with that woman," he quipped, pointing a finger in the air as Clinton did when he denied having sexual relations with Lewinsky.
Dole dropped in on two of the Sudan Shriner's fish-fry lunch stations before leaving.
He walked casually over to a group of people sitting at a lunch table at Boone Trail Shopping Center.
"I'm Bob Dole," he said.
"I know who you are," a woman replied without enthusiasm.
"How's the election going?" another woman asked.
"It's close," Dole said.
Theresa Tippett and Carol Cash took in all the activity.
They were impressed by Dole's friendliness, but pointed out that it is a political season.
Both said they had seen the controversial ad.
"You shouldn't question someone's religion," Tippett said.
"It was tacky on her (Hagan's) part," Cash said of the Democrat's court filing. "She should've just brushed it off and kept on trucking."
Staff writer Nancy McCleary can be reached at email@example.com or 486-3568.
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