Robocalls start on Hagan, atheists

Dole campaign will make 1.3 million calls saying Hagan sought group's support.

11/02/2008 12:00 AM

11/01/2008 11:30 PM

Incumbent Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole continued Saturday to question her opponent's attendance at a fundraiser hosted by an adviser to an atheist advocacy group.

Dole's campaign began sending out automated telephone calls that accuse Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan of seeking the support of the Godless Americans political action committee. Her campaign said 1.3 million calls are planned through Monday.

Hagan has sued Dole over her initial television ad about the fundraiser, accusing her of defamation and libel. The spot ends by showing a picture of Hagan while another woman says, “There is no God.”

Hagan, an elder and Sunday school teacher at her Presbyterian church, has responded with an ad that declares her Christian faith and chastises Dole's ad as “offensive.”

Hagan has said a person's religious affiliation shouldn't determine whether a candidate accepts their donation.

Dole said Saturday she didn't know whether her ad had succeeded in its intended purpose, but she defended the widely criticized line of attack.

“There are two issues. One: Why did she go? And the second: What does she think about their agenda?” Dole said in an interview. “She's not answering the … questions.”

The calls ask listeners to “press 1” to hear from Hagan. It plays clips of an interview in which Hagan talks about why she attended the event after Dole's campaign raised questions about the hosts.

The event was not billed as a Godless Americans event. Other hosts were a U.S. ambassador and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.

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