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Secret Tapes, Negative Ads Plague Senate Race

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RALEIGH — Lauch Faircloth and Senate challenger John Edwards both promised clean campaigns six months ago. Friday, Senator Faircloth's Chief of Staff was under fire after the release of a recorded speech secretly taped by the John Edwards Senate campaign.

"The average person watching television, who does not have your intellect, the average person doesn't know what is going on in the real world. They are sitting there watching Oprah and what they see on television -- they believe," Faircloth's Chief of Staff Johnathan Hill said in response to the negative ads running on TV.

An Edwards aide made the tape by sticking a microcassette recorder in his pocket when Faircloth's Chief of Staff made a speech in Greensboro earlier this week.

The Edwards camp will not discuss the tape, or publicly identify the aide who made it, but North Carolina's Democratic Party is talking about it, and calling for Senator Faircloth to fire his Chief of Staff.

"When I was in business, a person like that who was working for me, he would have been gone, or she would have been gone," said Barbara Allen, who is with the N.C. Democratic Party. "Because I think you need to think before you speak, and I don't think he thought very much about what he was saying before he said it."

Faircloth's campaign manager says the Chief of Staff's comments "were taken out of context." He also said that "John Edwards is Linda Tripp with a better haircut going around North Carolina secretly taping people."

Secret taping or not, the comments were made in a public place and on the record. Just like the "Bull" ad, sharp words cut both ways.

Senator Faircloth released a statement late this afternoon about his Chief of Staff's recorded comments. Faircloth says Jonathan Hill has apologized for the flippant remarks because they do not reflect the Senator's beliefs.

Faircloth also said that Hill is, "a good man who made a mistake, and I've taken him to the woodshed."


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