Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Dole manager: Godless ad was 'Hail Mary'

Marty Ryall, who ran Republican Elizabeth Dole’s Senate campaign last year, confirms what many people suspected about the so-called Godless ad – that it was a desperation move by a campaign that knew it was losing.

Ryall writes about the ad in a cover story for Politics magazine. The headline: “Our Hail Mary Pass, Why we ran the Godless ad and what I’d do differently.”

The ad that ran in the final days was the most controversial of the campaign. It sought to tie Democrat Kay Hagan to a group of atheists who want to remove references to God from the public arena. It showed Hagan’s photo while a woman’s voice said “There is no God.”


“Many in the media, especially on the liberal side, were
quick to point to the ad and claim it backfired, costing
Dole the election,” Ryall writes. “Nothing could be further from the
truth. When a football team is trailing by 7 points and
throws a “Hail Mary” on the last play of the game, they
don’t lose because they failed to complete the play, they
lose because they were down 7 points and time was running
out.”
Ryall recites the campaign’s problems. It burned through too much money early and then faced an onslaught from outside groups. In addition, there were Dole’s weaknesses, including her effectiveness rating, the time she spent outside North Carolina and, of course, the Obama turnout effort.

In the final week, he says, Dole was on “a losing trajectory” and had to do something with “shock value.” The only thing he would have done differently about the Godless ad was to cut the “There is no God” quote at the end since it gave Hagan a ready line of attack.


“So, in the end, the “Godless” ad had little impact on the
election. The Obama campaign’s decision to target North
Carolina and turn out the Democrat vote was far more
damaging. …. I would argue that had we run the ad
sooner, and without the voice at the end, it would have been closer.
However, that is all hindsight. The risk was huge and not worth
taking until it was evident we could not win without it, and
that was not clear until about 10 days out. Had the ad run
about 20 days out, it may have made it closer, but the data
we had at that time did not warrant taking such a large
gamble.”

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wish there were more godless politicians...superstitions have no place in public policy.

jay said...

Agree with first commenter. We need more proud and out atheists in public office. It's a shame that politicians still feel they have to give lip service to a mythical being because they think it will get them votes.

Anonymous said...

Why do people insist upon characterizing the Godless Americans' agenda as "removing all references to God from the public arena?" Unless you're aware enough to interpret "public arena" as "government-sponsored venue" (which Dole supporters don't appear to be), that characterization is a straw man, and in no way reflects the atheists' true aim.

Their true aim is to get government out of the business of promoting religion. Citizens practicing and preaching their faith in "the public arena" is fine; what atheists want is for *government* to adhere to its constitutional responsibility to remain neutral -- and therefore, silent -- on religion.

Anonymous said...

Christians and persons of faith should heed the comments from atheists who would run our country and realize they are always Democrats.

Steve said...

If they knew Dole was going to lose, they should have let her lose with dignity. Now what people remember is the ad.

If the ad had any effect, it let some of us Republicans feel better about voting against her rather than being ambivalent.

Nutty atheist groups aren't any better or more reasonable than nutty Christian groups, and neither are limited to one party or the other. But I guess politicians feel they need to play to them. In the process they can offend reasonable people of all religious persuasions. And using God's name in political discourse so often amounts to taking that name in vain.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please. Conservative Christians should just admit they want a theocracy.

Liddy Dole had a lot of weaknesses. I think the biggest weakness, revealed in her completely sour-grapes, ungracious concession speech, was that she never wanted to be a Senator, anyway. Thanks a lot, Liddy. Your damage to North Carolina through your useless so-called service on the Senate banking committee was incalculable. I take some pleasure in noting that this useless person, who made a fetish out of her 1950s drawing room manners, couldn't even give a gracious concession speech. Thus she is outed for the venal and deceitful person that she truly is.

Anonymous said...

So Dole's campaign manager has no regrets about his godless ad except the timing. How quaint. The funny thing about atheists is that they usually follow the teachings of Jesus (who was an unrepentant LIBERAL, perhaps the first) far more "religiously" than the hypocritical religious conservatives who seek to use their warped and twisted version of the Bible as a club with which to bludgeon anyone who disagrees with their pseudo-fascist agenda.

Even though I was raised Presbyterian, I find myself disgusted with the actions of the so-called "religious right" who have allowed themselves to become tools of the worst politicians with the most un-Christian motives that the Republican Party can belch out. Give me an agnostic or atheist who understands humility, social justice and compassion, not to mention the U.S. Constitution, over one of these hyper-religious republican hypocrites any day. Come to think of it, that's exactly what NC voters did when they sent Libby Dole and her carpetbag back into whatever regressive conservative hole she crawled out of. Pity it was 6 years too late.

Anonymous said...

Kay Hagan attended a fund raiser at the home of an Atheist. What more do we need to know about her character? She benefited from the Obama coattail. Liddy Dole was useless but Kay Hagan cannot deny the facts.

Anonymous said...

Once a mud-slinger, always a mud-slinger. Lets see what other politicians careers this idiot can destroy.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with the assessment of liddy's rant after the election. When all a person does is remind the little people how great they were, maybe they weren't so great afterall. Liddy spent way too much time blathering about herself. Obviously a legend in her own mind. "Mah c'reer, Mah pub'lic service...." How serving yourself for decades at the expense of the taxpayers. What a painted-up loser!

hip rhyme said...

well, i know i was on the fence with kagan/dole until the ad came out. that sealed my vote for hagan. the manager may be correct in saying the ad didn't lose the election, but it certainly cost dole some individual votes.

Steve said...

Long before this ad, I thought the telling event was when there was a ridiculous (and some said racist) ad connecting Rev. Wright to the NC gubernatorial primary. The state Republicans did the ad to drum up contributions more than anything else, apparently. John McCain immediately condemned the ad. Pat McCrory condemned it a little later. When Mrs. Dole was asked about the ad, she said something to the effect that she couldn't be bothered with things going on back in North Carolina.

Anonymous said...

What strikes me about Republican campaigns in general is the complete cynacism they have about the public's ability to discern truth from lies. In Dole's case, the campaign is making the calculated bet that likely voters would conclude that the opponent was an atheist herself. I hope she likes atheists, because I am one (and a former conservative Christian), but she is not herself one. Many Republicans repeat lies about their opponents so often that they come to believe them themselves, I think. It's exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught. So who are the real Christians? I'd prefer to have an atheist who follows the golden rule any day over a believer who bears false witness as the Dole campaign did.

Anonymous said...

This just proves how desperate the Republicans were and probably still are.

I'm an atheist and realize that atheists will never get any respect from elected officials because atheism is too "controversial".

People act like electing a black man president is a big deal, but few now even dare to be seen standing next to an atheist.

Atheists will be the last minority that nearly every moron out there feels free to discriminate against.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that believers feel they are JUSTIFIED when they USE god to try and win an election.

When did atheist become synonymous with terrorist or anti-america??

We aren't terrorists or anti-america, heck we don't even care that you believe in talking snakes. We just don't want to live by your, supposed god given, rules.

And with all the problems your leaders have with your morality, why should everyone one else have to be affected by your warped so-called morals.

RkBall said...

If there is no God, then there is no objective morality, it's whatever we want, whatever we make up, whatever we think, goes. In fact, if the universe is godless, uncreated, undesigned, and purely materalistic, then morality itself becomes an absurd concept. Smashing a human child's head in becomes no different than smashing a pumpkin or a rock. So, for all you "proud atheists" out there, you had better earnestly hope that there is a God, or human life is a sheer absurdity.

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the first comment. As for morality being "God-given", morality results from societal evolution (hence the lack of it in "less developed" societies). I do a fine job of making it through the day without smashing in a child's head, and I'm a "gawdless heathern". I hate I will never live to see the day when such arcane superstitions cease to plague the world.

Anonymous said...

What drives athiest nuts isn't that people believe in a God...it's that people who do believe in God vote differently than they do. That's where the hatred for Christians comes from - not that they say "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, but they they are typically against abortion, drugs, same-sex marriage, and almost always vote for people who feel the same way. So athiests are being a little disingenuous when they pretend to be noble defenders of the Establishment Clause. If Christians typically voted Democrat, we wouldn't hear a peep out of you kids.

Anonymous said...

Dole ran a GOD AWFUL campaign !

diggndeeper said...

If you are interested in running for office, be sure Marty's name does not come up. It seems politicans are more likely to let someone like this run their campaign versus themselves relying on conveying their positions. Anway, the Obama coattails were nearly impossible to beat.

TJ said...

I hope who ever ran Kay's campaign runs the Democratic nominee in 10'. Burr will be an easy defeat if we have the right person steering the ship.

We have failed to talk about Kay's excellent campaign. I think we can credit this more so than we can credit Dole's campaign for Kay's win.

Anonymous said...

People who consider themselves Christians should have voted AGAINST Liz Dole because she bore false witness against Kay Hagan. I had no problem voting for Hagan, and Dole's TV and print ads helped crystallize my decision.

I agree with some of the other people here. Although I consider myself to be a Christian, government has no business promoting religion. That's exactly what the Founding Fathers were trying to guard against. I don't really care about a person's religious beliefs--that's a personal decision and should have no bearing with running government. I care about whether the man or woman can do the job. Doesn't matter if the person is Buddhist, Muslim, Methodist, Seven-Day Adventist, Agnostic, or--horror of horrors--Athiest.

EJC said...

I thought the ad was a totally classless, below the belt stab in the dark at regaining some sort of hold over the election. I also felt E.D.'s campaign was the most negative I'd heard in this state in quite a while. Both of these reasons are why Elizabeth Dole did not get my vote. I also thought her concession speech was extremely egotistical and lacking any modicum of grace.

As for God or atheists...I don't really care one way or the other. I just wish politicans would truly work for the people and use our tax dollars wisely.

Conservative Indy said...

Godless politicians - Would that be more like Obama or more unlike him? Careful... trick question!

I heard a blind man once say that he thought light was a mythical concept. Weird, huh?

Conservative Indy said...

That said, I despise those that use faith for political purposes, either to blast someone else or to bash those who simply understand what they do not.

Anonymous said...

"If there is no God, then there is no objective morality, it's whatever we want, whatever we make up, whatever we think, goes. In fact, if the universe is godless, uncreated, undesigned, and purely materalistic, then morality itself becomes an absurd concept. Smashing a human child's head in becomes no different than smashing a pumpkin or a rock. So, for all you "proud atheists" out there, you had better earnestly hope that there is a God, or human life is a sheer absurdity."

Objective morality is a human instinct and should not require a God to have. If a person requires a God to give them such a thing, then they are ill and should seek help. This is where religion takes over and predatory proselytizers meet their quota.

Anonymous said...

Republicans leaders are from the same mind set as the Scribes and Pharisees. They are power and money hungry control freaks.