Fallout continues over Etheridge video

Bob Etheridge

June 15, 2010 9:14:43 PM PDT
North Carolina Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge's now infamous confrontation that was caught on tape, is breathing new life into the campaign of his Republican challenger in the fall elections.Earlier this week, video hit the internet of Etheridge reacting to two undefined 'alleged' college students asking if he supports the Obama agenda.

Read the blog and see the video

Etheridge's reaction was to demand to know who the photographers were. He then got physical - grabbing the camera from one man and then taking him by the wrist. In the edited video, the photographer's faces are blurred and their identities aren't given. They never identify themselves to the congressman other than to say they're students working on a project.

On Monday, Etheridge apologized for his reaction. But there is now debate about the damage the video does for the seven-term congressman who is running for re-election in November.

Etheridge's Republican opponent, Renee Ellmers, is a nurse who has never before run for office.

"Voters are stepping back now and saying, 'He's clearly acted in a way that's not consistent with who he says he is," Ellmers' Political Consultant Carter Wrenn said. "So who is he?"

Democrats admit it was a mistake for a congressman to wrestle with anyone on the street, but they say voters of the second congressional district know Ethridge well.

"He's lived there, been there, farmed there, been in business there, served as a county commissioner, House member, superintendent of schools," Democratic Consultant Brad Crone said.

But both Etheridge's friends and opponents acknowledge the video does change the congressional race.

Ellmers says she would be a fool not to use the video in campaign ads.

"It certainly would be reasonable to put that on TV, and I would expect that would happen," Wrenn said.

However, Democrats question the motives of the young cameraman who has blurred out his face in the video.

"It was pure Gotcha, try to trap a congressman, because they refused to tell them who they were, what school they were from," Crone said. "And if you're working on a project, tell the truth."

In the meantime, the video is motivating Republicans.

"Last week, Renee's campaign probably had not raised 20 donations from outside North Carolina," Wrenn said. "They're taking a second look at Etheridge and they're asking why did that happen? He wasn't who we thought. What does this mean? Why did that happen? And who is he?"

Ellmers claims the Etheridge video has generated hundreds of donations from out of state since Monday.

After the May primary, her last campaign filing said she had less than $6,000 in the bank. Etheridge was sitting on over $1 million.

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