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Rank anti-mosque bigotry flops as campaign tactic

The other day, GOP candidate Renee Ellmers, who's mounting a tough challenge to Dem Rep Bob Etheridge in North Carolina, ran a rather unsightly new ad attacking her opponent over the "ground zero mosque." The ad used the terms "Muslims" and "they" interchangeably for the people who have built "victory mosques" throughout history, inclujding the planned Islamic Center in lower Manhattan.

Alas, the anti-mosque tactic doesn't appear to be taking hold with voters, if the Dem firm Public Policy Polling is to be believed:

North Carolina isn't exactly a bastion of liberalism but even there a majority of voters think it's off base for candidates to exploit the proposed 'Ground Zero mosque' as a campaign issue. 51% label doing so as 'inappropriate' to just 37% who consider it to be an acceptable tactic.

This is particularly pertinent in the Triangle where Renee Ellmers, challenging long time Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge, has run television ads about the mosque. Voters in that part of the state are particularly strong in their views that it's inappropriate with 56% expressing that sentiment.

As it happens, the ad could, however, help Ms. Ellmers with the GOP base, 60 percent of whom say it's okay by them.

What's amusing is that North Carolina voters are not known for being overly sensitive about bigoted campaign appeals. It's there, of course, that Senator Jesse Helms ran his notorious "hands" ad, which featured white hands crumpling up a resume while a voiceover intoned that the man's job had gone to "a minority."

But anti-mosque rhetoric? Not acceptable as a campaign tactic, North Carolinians say.

By Greg Sargent  | September 30, 2010; 2:47 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, Foreign policy and national security, House Dems, House GOPers  
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She seems to have some regressive genes or something. Or is it just a lazy eye. I can't place it.

And is that a leather collar with some sort of choke chain over it?

Anyways, the Triangle isn't the sort of region that would support a Southern Strategy. Don't equate the Triangle to rural who might still support a Jessie Helms type campaign.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 30, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I expect her poll #s to improve after Colbert's "Keep Fear Alive" rally. snark/

Posted by: nisleib | September 30, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

mike, it was a statewide poll, majority of North Carolinians rejected the tactic.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 30, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Well, they might *say* that it's inappropriate, but will that translate into not voting for her? It doesn't seem to make much difference here in UT; the Republican candidate can do all sorts of things with ads, flyers, etc. that the voters say shouldn't be done, but then they win anyway.

Posted by: Michigoose | September 30, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse


* Alaska tea party favorite Miller faces fines for late Senate disclosure filing *

U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller still hasn't filed the required forms meant to allow the public a glimpse at the investments, personal wealth and potential conflicts of interest of those who want to represent them. They were due months ago. "It was a simple oversight; we're already working on it, and it will be filed as soon as possible," Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said Wednesday.

Miller was required to file the disclosures with the Senate records office and ethics committee after receiving more than $5,000 in campaign contributions. Miller passed that threshold in April and did not ask for an extension. There's a $200 penalty for filing even one month past the due date and failing to file the disclosure forms entirely can result in a fine of up to $50,000.


Miller, who was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday for several fundraisers, wouldn't answer any questions as he entered a Capitol Hill townhouse where one of the events was being held.

Miller also went out of the way to avoid questions on his way out, by using the rear exit of the townhouse. [...] Another man came out of the house and spoke to the driver, who moved the car to the alley behind the house. The driver, when asked by a reporter, denied he was Miller's driver. When asked if Miller would be exiting from the rear of the house, he said Miller was in the front. A few minutes later, the Nissan drove out of the alley and away with several people in it.

Looks like we have ourselves a Back Door Man. Slithering away from the press like a coward.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 30, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Renee Ellmers is coming on strong as the most vile of the teabag candidates. Pass the popcorn!

Posted by: Observer691 | September 30, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

CalD is going to be so disappointed he missed this post.

BTW, the Triangle is the Research Triangle, which encompasses the research universities of North Carolina State University, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. It's one of the more liberal parts of North Carolina, and is about as bohemian as you get in NC (not all of the Triangle, naturally, but more than enough).

Not the place to attempt that sort of campaign. Which, as I may have mentioned, I think is bone-headed in the first place. How close is the Near Ground Zero Not-a-Mosque to Chapel Hill, NC? Exactly?

"What's amusing is that North Carolina voters are not known for being overly sensitive about bigoted campaign appeals."

Two things: the demographics (esp. politically) of North Carolina has changed some since the "hands" ad, first. Second, it was (however ill-conceived) an add that opposed racial quotas and racial preferences favoring minorities over supposedly better qualified white folks for the same jobs. Unless your presumption that everybody who doesn't favor racial preferences for certain people, based on ethnicity and past grievances, is a bigot therefore, I'm not sure the "overly sensitive about bigoted campaign appeals" is 100% accurate.

Also, have you spent much time in NC? The Triangle is pretty cosmopolitan, as is much of Charlotte. They've got a very progressive statewide recycling program. They spend well on education and infrastructure. It's not just hillbillies and rednecks.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 30, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Ahh sorry, was thinking it was in the Triangle.

OT but bizarre and disturbing:

"In an amicus brief filed with the U. S. Supreme Court, the New York Times, Associated Press, Tribune Company, Bloomberg, the Society of Professional Journalists, NPR, the National Press Club, and numerous other media and First Amendment groups, not only came down firmly on the side of the church's "right" to protest at the funerals of American soldiers, but said it is vitally important that the protests be allowed to continue."

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 30, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Greg makes the exact point - it helps with the base.

Wasn't the exact same logic which was behind pushing the tax cuts - excite the democratic base?

The mosque issue is extremely important - because it CONFIRMS so many other issues - and it builds on all of Obama's other problems with the electorate.

Obama made a serious mistake - after cancelling the National Day of Prayer - Obama goes off and hosts a Ramandan dinner and then makes a big announcement there - calling attention to the Ramandan dinner.

Oh well - Republicans would be wise to keep on going with this issue.

Also, is this anti - Anti -mosque sentiment enough to changes people's minds at the ballot box? I don't think so.

The economy is what is important.

See - the mosque issue HELPS the economic issue in this way - it re-enforces the perception that Obama is off on his own doing far-left things - instead of taking care of what has to be done.

So, on that emotional issue, the Republicans win on the mosque issue.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 30, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"As it happens, the ad could, however, help Ms. Ellmers with the GOP base, 60 percent of whom say it's okay by them."

How very Grayson-esque.

Posted by: sbj3 | September 30, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Great point - is anyone taking polls to see if Grayson's ads are "inappropriate?"



I BELIEVE that ALL American would find most 30 second ads "inappropriate"

Take that.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 30, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Looks like there is a line you can cross with the GOP. It just doesn't happen to be stark racism.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 30, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"Looks like there is a line you can cross with the GOP. It just doesn't happen to be stark racism."


Call African-Americans, Hispanics, and anyone else the worst racial epithets in the book, harass them with insulting imagery, target their advocates... sure no problem.

But go after a BLONDE, WHITE WOMAN?

You've. Crossed. The. Line.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 30, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Keefe's actual document on the stunt. It's not a long read, but it's amazing how the guy's pathology shines through.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 30, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Any polls out whether the voters think it is appropriate for Dem Rep Bob Etheridge to grab people on the sidewalk and yell at them ???

What ever happened about that incident?

Etheridge should called to account for that.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 30, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

All, ZoomInfo offers new details on its Christine O'Donnell profile containing same Oxford claim:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 30, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse


Curious why you find it bizarre and disturbing that the organizations you list are supporting a broad reading of First Amendment rights. Yes, WBC and the Phelpsians are deliberately offensive and provocative. Yes, it is horribly callous to picket the funerals of servicemembers. But who do we set up as the judge of what is so hurtful, so callous, so offensive that we will not let the opinion be uttered or displayed in public? News organizations know that any limits on free speech will eventually be used to muzzle the press, particularly in time of war.

As for Phelps, in my view the First Amendment is the rope our Constitution gives to idiots so that they might publicly hang themselves.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | September 30, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Michigoose is correct.

If you have any experience in consumer opinion polling -- as I do -- you quickly learn that people often say one thing and do another.

The ads that pull best are often the ones consumers will claim "insult their intelligence."

Posted by: pmendez | September 30, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

"Any polls out whether the voters think it is appropriate for Dem Rep Bob Etheridge to grab people on the sidewalk and yell at them ??? What ever happened about that incident?"

Oh, don't worry - someone is spending big bucks to make sure people don't forget that little incident (see second video):

Posted by: sbj3 | September 30, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Since containment zones are erected to keep protesters away from the sites of political conventions, then surely we should be able to put that vile Phelps clan in similar containment zones, so that the families of fallen soldiers do not have to endure such vile abuse, on top of their already grievous pain and anguish,

Posted by: Liam-still | September 30, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

McDonald's Corp. has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul.

The move is one of the clearest indications that new rules may disrupt workers' health plans as the law ripples through the real world.


More unintended consequences pointing to the failure of Obama's health care plan.

First, health insurance companies have been raising their rates 10-25% this year - with another 10 % coming next year.

AND now lower-wage employers are dropping their coverage - DUMPING their employees onto the government programs.

Did the CBO anticipate these kinds of moves when they SCORED the health care plans that Obama dumped on the internet in the middle of the night?

Seriously folks, Obama has little to be proud of - he has caused CHAOS in hiring, CHAOS in health care - all during an uncertain economic times.

The American People don't like it.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 30, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

The American People Love It.

Posted by: Liam-still | September 30, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

FDR, 1933: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

GOP, 2010: "The only thing we have is fear itself."

Pretty sad that this is all they have to offer to NC and the country, isn't it?

Posted by: B2O2 | October 1, 2010 1:57 AM | Report abuse

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