Under the Dome

Ad makes use of 'Who are you?' footage

September 29, 2010 

U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, a Lillington Democrat, is the subject of a tough TV ad that includes old video footage of him confronting a young man on a Washington sidewalk.

"Who are you?" Etheridge demands as he grabs the man in an Internet video that gained wide attention in the spring.

Then the ad cuts to new footage of a series of angry-looking people who say they're Etheridge's 2nd House District constituents. They point out that Etheridge voted for "Nancy Pelosi's health care plan," as the ad calls the new health care law.

Says one man in the ad: "We're the people who will vote you out."

The spot is part of a major TV ad campaign being produced by Americans for Job Security, a group based in the Washington-area suburbs that has poured more than $1million into North Carolina in an effort to defeat Etheridge and other targeted Democratic congressmen such as Larry Kissell.

Mike Davis, Etheridge campaign spokesman, said the congressman had taken full responsibility for the sidewalk encounter and regrets his actions.

"Renee Ellmers said she would not exploit the incident for political gain, yet apparently she is perfectly content letting secretive Washington special interests do her attacking for her," Davis said. "Bob Etheridge is focused on improving the economy through job creation and small business tax relief, building new schools for our children, and bolstering our hardworking middle class."

Americans for Job Security does not have to report where it gets its money. In 2008, lawyers for the Federal Election Commission tried to require the organization, a nonprofit, to disclose its donors, but the move was blocked by Republicans on the commission.

Americans for Job Security is run out of a Republican consultant's office in Alexandria, Va. The group describes itself as pro-business.

'Victory mosque' ad

Etheridge's Republican challenger, Renee Ellmers of Dunn, and CNN's Anderson Cooper got in a heated exchange on the cable channel recently, with the two trading barbs over Ellmers' "victory mosque" ad.

Cooper pointed out that most religions, including Christians, have built houses of worship when they conquered new lands. He cited St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the Catholic conquistadors in Latin America as specific examples. Couldn't such sites be called "Victory churches," Cooper asked?

Ellmers, who is Catholic, said Cooper didn't have his facts straight. When the TV host continued to press his point on the show Friday, Ellmers countered by questioning whether Cooper was against Christians.

"Are you anti-religion?" Ellmers asked Cooper. "Are you anti-Christian?"

Cooper responded: "That's like the lowest response I have ever heard from a candidate, I have got to tell you."

Cooper was correct that Christians built churches on earlier pagan sites. St. Peter's was built on the site of the Circus of Nero. And the conquistadors erected churches throughout areas they conquered in the Americas.

Last week, Ellmers' campaign began airing the ad that calls the planned Muslim community center in New York a "victory mosque" and associates it with terrorists. The ad also accuses Etheridge of not taking a stand on the issue, though Etheridge's campaign spokesman said the congressman does not think it's a good idea to locate the center so close to the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack.

School for the Deaf

A report into problems at the N.C. School for the Deaf in Morganton cited a lack of fairness in treatment of staff and students and lack of appropriate training for staff.

A group assembled by the state Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the school, interviewed 30 faculty and staff members, a parent, a student and Disability Rights North Carolina advocates as part of its review of practices at the residential school.

The group released its report Monday.

The review was triggered by a disability rights complaint that students were shoved or improperly restrained. The school's director was fired last month.

The state report offers recommendations such as improving communication with families, offering staff more training and re-establishing a human rights committee at the school.

By staff writers Rob Christensen, Michael Biesecker and Lynn Bonner

rob.christensen@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4532

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