WASHINGTON (AP) — An endangered Florida congressman is calling his Republican opponent "Taliban Dan" in an effort to paint him as a religious extremist.
Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, an Orlando-area lawmaker who has employed flamboyant rhetoric against the GOP since winning office in 2008, is running an ad on broadcast and cable stations in central Florida that highlights state Sen. Dan Webster's views on social issues. The ad says Webster would force women to carry to term a fetus resulting from rape and would bar abused women from seeking abortions, medical treatment or divorce.
"Daniel Webster wants to impose his radical fundamentalism on us," the announcer says. "Taliban Dan Webster — hands off our bodies and our laws."
EDITOR'S NOTE — An insider's view of this year's elections based on reports from around the nation.
The ad cites votes from 1990 in favor of covenant marriage, which bars couples from divorcing except in the case of adultery.
The black-and-white ad also includes video of Webster reading a Bible passage: "Wives, submit yourself to your own husband. ... She should submit to me. That's in the Bible."
Grayson, who won office two years with 52 percent in a district President George W. Bush carried in 2004, is one of the Democrats' top incumbents to defend. But unlike other endangered House members, Grayson has neither cooled his rhetoric nor focused on the economic issues Democrats hope will help them defend majorities in Congress.
Instead, Grayson has delivered a string of fiery interviews and speeches, including one on the House floor several months ago describing the GOP health care plan as "don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly."
A liberal group founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean raised $100,000 during a 24-hour window for Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold's tough re-election bid.
Democracy for America said Monday its members were helping Feingold defend his seat from Republican nominee Ron Johnson, a businessman who has invested heavily from his personal wealth. While Democrats are worried about Feingold's prospects, liberals have rallied to Feingold's side.
"It's time to get the Senate working for the people again," said Charles Chamberlain, the group's political director. "DFA members were motivated in the primaries to get the best candidates possible and they have already donated $425,000 to get fighters in the Senate in 2010."
Among other candidates Democracy for America is supporting are incumbent Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Its members are also working to raise money for six other Democratic challengers.
Democracy for America is an outgrowth of Dean's unsuccessful presidential bid in 2004. The former Democratic National Committee chairman's group also works to elect local candidates, from school boards to governorships.
Most spectators are being banned from a debate next month between Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican rival Sharron Angle after a candidate forum last week ended with a fist fight in the audience.
Nevada Broadcasters Association President Bob Fisher told journalists and political candidates Saturday that each candidate can only invite 12 guests to the Oct. 14 televised debate.
The guests and some journalists will be the only people at the only scheduled debate in one of the most important races during this midterm election.
Fisher said the candidates could initially bring 40 guests each, but security was tightened after a candidate forum last week ended with tussle between an Angle supporter and two Reid supporters.
—The committee to elect Republican governors is airing an ad that spoofs MasterCard's "priceless" commercials and attacks Democratic gubernatorial nominee Virg Bernero's spending as mayor of Lansing, Mich. The ad says Bernero spent more than $2,600 on a fish tank, $20,000 on catering and $1,200 on pencils. Bernero campaign spokesman Cullen Schwarz said Monday the food was for official city events. Bernero's predecessor, David Hollister, installed the fish tank, which is popular with visiting students.
—New Hampshire voters will get three more chances to see their nominees in Senate debates. Republican former attorney general Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes will meet on Oct. 11, Oct. 18 and Oct. 28, following a head-to-head meeting last week.
—President Barack Obama's trade ambassador is heading out on the campaign trail to help Democrats' chances in November's election. Ron Kirk, who has the rank of other Cabinet officials, will speak at North Carolina Central University in Durham on Tuesday. Obama will be in Madison, Wis., to rally young voters during a day that will also see Vice President Joe Biden and other members of the administration speaking at campuses.
Associated Press writers Cristina Silva in Las Vegas and Kathy Barks Hoffman in Lansing, Mich., contributed to this report.
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