Senate races

Senate races

Giuliani questions NPR funding

BLUE BELL, Pa. — Rudy Giuliani defended former NPR analyst Juan Williams Friday, saying Williams was fired for simply "explaining his feelings."

"Juan Williams just expressed something that a lot of people feel," Giuliani told the crowd at a campaign rally for Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey. "And he gets fired for it?"

Earlier this week in an interview on Fox News, Williams said seeing passengers in "Muslim garb" on a plane makes him nervous.    

"Look Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country," Williams told Bill O'Reilly in an interview. "But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Shortly after the comments, NPR decided to sever its contract with Williams. The resulting firestorm saw several Republican lawmakers calling on Congress to defund NPR.

Giuliani appeared to join that call Friday, calling into question NPR's funding.

"We put taxpayer money into that censorship program," Giuliani said of NPR.

Giuliani, who was mayor of New York during 9/11, reminded the crowd that on the evening of September 11, 2001, he warned New Yorkers not to single out Arab-Americans.

But the former mayor added that it is irresponsible to ignore the threat of Islamic extremists, noting he doesn't understand why anyone would be offended at that notion.

"I don't care who's offended by it," Giuliani said. "And if you are offended by it, there's something wrong with you."


O'Donnell to Stephanopoulos: 'Thank you'

MILLSBORO, Del. — Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell ripped into the press at a campaign event Thursday night, accusing the media of not giving her campaign a fair shake. But she heaped some praise on ABC's George Stephanopoulos, thanking him for being "surprisingly fair" in a Thursday interview.  

Both O'Donnell and her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, were interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday, and O'Donnell told the crowd at a 9/12 Patriots rally last night that not only was Stephanopoulos fair, but that he called out Coons for his shifting positions on tax cuts.  

After Coons said in the Thursday interview that he is open to extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts across the board, Stephanopoulos pointed out that position is different from the one listed on his campaign website. 

Coons told The Hill on Thursday that he would be open to an across-the-board extension, but "only if we're able to reach a bipartisan agreement that also extends other tax cuts that are critical to getting our economy going again." 

O'Donnell embarked on a national media blitz after her upset of Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) in last month's Republican Senate primary. But she soon pulled back, opting to focus on local media instead and moving to limit access to some of her campaign events in Delaware.

On Thursday, O'Donnell said she's rethinking that strategy with the campaign in the home stretch, given that she thinks the local press in Delaware has turned against her. O'Donnell labeled Delaware's News Journal "my opponent's newsletter."  

"That's why we decided to do 'Good Morning America,' " O'Donnell said, adding that she plans to be on NBC's "Today Show" next week.


Giannoulias says he'd back Durbin for Dem leader if Reid loses

Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias (D) said he'd support Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) for Democratic leader if current Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) loses his reelection effort.

Giannoulias said that if he were elected, and if Democrats were looking for a replacement for Reid as party leader, he'd back Durbin, the current No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, over Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"Chuck Schumer's a wonderful guy, but I'm a Durbin guy," Giannoulias said Wednesday evening on MSNBC.

Durbin and Schumer are widely seen as the two Democrats jockeying to replace Reid should he lose his extremely tight race against Republican Sharron Angle on Nov. 2. Both have pledged support for Reid in his reelection campaign, but have quietly looked to bolster support for their own candidacies should the situation arise.

"Let's just say that Senator Durbin is a great friend, a great senior senator," Giannoulias explained.

It's not often that candidates for an office pledge their support for a new leader, especially given that it's still very conceivable that Reid could win, return to Washington, and stay on as Democratic leader — in the majority or the minority.

On the House side, though, some centrist Democrats in tough campaigns have vowed to not vote for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to stay in that position, if Democrats keep the majority.

Giannoulias faces Republican Rep. Mark Kirk on Election Day.


SEIU blasts Angle in new ad

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) launched a new television ad Thursday blasting Nevada Republican Sharron Angle.

In the ad, Angle is criticized for her positions on abortion as well as Social Security. The ad shows women at various stages of life — from a child to an elderly person — and states that Angle's election to the Senate would leave them worse off.

"At every stage, it would be worse for her — for all of us. Sharron Angle: too dangerous to have real power over real people," concludes the ad. 

Angle is challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.).

The ad started running Thursday and is slated to air until the day before the election, Nov. 1. The ad buy costs $225,000, according to a union official.

SEIU has invested significant resources in protecting Reid this election. They have mobilized their union members in support of the top Senate Democrat and have made a $500,000 contribution to the Patriot Majority Fund, a 527 group that is doing field and media work in Nevada.

Despite vast support across the labor movement, Reid still finds himself in a very competitive race with Angle. The GOP challenger has been helped by outside campaign spending as well, with groups going after the Senate leader for his role in pushing through the Democratic agenda this Congress.