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In Senate Battlegrounds, Fusillades of TV Ads

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By Robert G. Kaiser
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Television viewers in North Carolina have befriended two codgers sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch of an old country store. They rock and swap insults about Elizabeth Dole, 72, the state's senior senator:

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"I'm telling you," says the first good old boy, "Liddy Dole is 93."

"Ninety-three?" replies the second.

"Yup, she ranks 93rd in effectiveness."

"After 40 years in Washington?"

"After 40 years in Washington, Dole is 93rd in effectiveness, right near the bottom."

"I've read she's 92," says the second old man.

"Didn't I just tell you she's 93?" says the first.

"No, 92 percent of the time she votes with Bush," says number two.

"What happened to the Liddy Dole I knew?"

"She's just not a go-getter like you and me," says number two as both rock their rockers.

That is the entire content of a 30-second spot that ran again and again in North Carolina over the summer. To the amazement of the Dole camp, the first polls taken just before Labor Day, after this commercial blanketed the state, showed Dole's Democratic challenger, state Sen. Kay Hagan, slightly ahead. She is still ahead, according to recent polls, putting Dole high on many lists of endangered Republican incumbents.

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