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I stay away from the blog for a day and all hell breaks loose on the Elizabeth Dole/Kay Hagan front. Thanks to everyone who sent me emails about it.

To recap:

Dole has been accusing her North Carolina Senate seat opponent (Democrat Kay Hagan) of palling around with atheists. Hagan really did nothing of the sort. She attended a fundraiser thrown by people who happened to be atheists but the fundraiser had nothing to do with that. Dole’s just desperate and she thinks that by accusing Hagan of being an atheist (which she is not), she will somehow overtake her on Election Day.

As Alex Castellanos said today on CNN, “When you’re making ads that say ‘there is no God,’ it usually means your campaign doesn’t have much of a prayer.”

Today’s update:

Dole is now running this inflammatory ad in North Carolina:

It shows edited clips from American Atheists spokespeople (former President) Ellen Johnson and (current Communications Director) David Silverman. They speak about their beliefs and the video implies that Hagan shares those beliefs.

She does not. In fact, those comments had nothing to do with Hagan or her campaign. They’re completely unrelated remarks.

At the very end, a voice declare “There is no God!” A casual listener may think that voice is Hagan’s.

It is not.

The ad also shows Hagan attending a fundraiser thrown by atheists. The image you see, though, is not that fundraiser. It’s a doctored image. (Do you really think someone would videotape that event? And that it would become available to the Dole campaign? Even if it was real, is that the most shocking footage they could find?)

It’s all fake, just designed to scare voters.

(And did anyone else know that “godless money” exists?! I thought they phased all that out in the 1950s…)

As Seth Colter Walls writes about Hagan at The Huffington Post:

In fact, the Democratic candidate is a Sunday School teacher and an elder at her Presbyterian church.

The ad also asks “What Did Hagan Promise in Return?” to atheists who donated money to her campaign.

Lots of people on this site have given money to Hagan (motivated by Dole’s own negative campaigning). To my knowledge, no one from the Hagan campaign has contacted any of us to ask what we want.

If they did, the response would be simple: We want civility, responsibility, and honor restored to the government — things that Elizabeth Dole cannot give us.

Guess what?

Hagan has African-American supporters, too. Some of them gave her money. Some may have even held fundraisers for her.

That doesn’t make her black.

(It’s still not too late to donate to Hagan’s campaign, by the way.)

In response to the false advertising, Hagan has done a number of things:

1) She is headed to court to get a cease-and-desist order on the ad.

2) Her campaign has put out two more ads in her favor.

3) She held a press conference with the following remarks:

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.

Well, not all atheists “value the role of faith in American life.” Shame on Kay Hagan for saying that.

But even if you don’t follow politics, why should you care about this story?

Elizabeth Dole is attacking her opponent by saying she associates with people like you. To Dole, you are unworthy of having a voice in the government — or even supporting someone who may have that voice on your behalf.

It’s despicable and Dole needs to be stopped. She needs to be voted out of any position of power.

Back to Hagan. A news report said Hagan was “calling the spot a slanderous and pathetic attempt to maintain political power.” She later called the ad despicable.

Let’s be clear about this: It’s not slanderous or pathetic to be an atheist.

Hagan’s just saying it’s slanderous and pathetic to lie about your opponent in order to win an election.

I’m not happy with her choice of words. She could have used the opportunity to say that, while atheists make up a vital segment of this country, she is a woman of faith. In the heat of the moment and the political stress she must be under, though, I can understand why she said what she did.

Right now, most atheist organizations have not commented on the situation.

It may be better to wait until after the elections to raise a fuss about everything that has taken place. Both candidates (but especially Dole) could stand to learn a lesson about what atheists have to offer.

On another note, all these ads mention that one of the fundraising hosts was an advisor to the Godless Americans Political Action Committee. Does GAMPAC even do anything anymore? Not to my knowledge. If you look at their website, the most recent picture on their home page is from over a year ago. To say that any fundraiser was held on behalf of that organization is a lie. That organization is almost entirely non-existent.