Local Politics

Former Sen. Dole comments on N.C. Senate race

Posted September 4, 2008 6:09 p.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2008 7:12 p.m. EDT

— The importance of the North Carolina Senate race is on the minds of delegates at the Republican National Convention.

Former Sen. Bob Dole talked to delegates this week about the hotly contested race between his wife, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., and challenger state Sen. Kay Hagan, D-Guilford.

Dole said the race could go either way, unless Elizabeth Dole holds on to that core group of supporters who got her this far.

Bob Dole said his 58 years in politics have taught him a thing or two about the business. Dole paid special attention to Wednesday night’s speech by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the party’s first female vice presidential nominee.

“Fresh faces are always nice, but you’ve got to bring something along more than a fresh face. And I think she demonstrated last night that she’s got a lot on the ball,” Bob Dole said.

The former Kansas senator said Palin’s addition to the ticket is good for women, but if the party is to flourish it needs to go further including more outreach to Hispanics, blacks and Asians.

“When I was chairman of the party in 1972, we had a black Republican Council, and we were really making headway,” Bob Dole said.

Bob Dole said he has already seen outreach to different demographics in his wife’s campaign. Elizabeth Dole’s enjoyed strong support from blacks throughout her career, Bob Dole said. He believes the support could be the difference if his wife wants to keep her U.S. Senate seat.

“In Elizabeth’s case she has a good, good following. And I think they’re going to stick with her,” Bob Dole said.

Bob Dole says the Republican Party as a whole has to start looking more like America if it wants to thrive in the future.

“We can’t be one color, one ethnicity, one this, one that party. We’ve got to be a party of diversity and I think it’s happening,” Bob Dole said.

Elizabeth Dole spoke out on Thursday about her recent advertisements that depict her rival as little more than a yapping dog. It is the first attack ad condoned by either candidate.

“A month and a half they've been hammering away, throwing mud at me and things that are not accurate,” Elizabeth Dole told WRAL News while in Chatham County on Thursday.

Elizabeth Dole said she doesn’t expect the mudslinging to stop anytime soon.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has aired several ads across North Carolina aggressively trying to drag down Elizabeth Dole's poll numbers and provide an opening for the party's lesser-known hopeful, Hagan. The group has also reserved large blocks of airtime in the weeks leading up to the election.

In statement Thursday, Colleen Flanagan, spokeswoman for the Hagan campaign, accused Elizabeth Dole of going negative with her ads because Hagan is leading in the polls.

“It speaks volumes about Elizabeth Dole that she would pledge to run a positive campaign when she was ahead in the polls, but now that Kay’s leading in this race, Dole has pressed the panic button and gone negative – calling names and mud-slinging,” Flanagan said.