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Mosque overshadows Carnahan's new ad and rural tour

The campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Robin Carnahan is demanding an apology this morning from the camp of Republican rival Roy Blunt, in the wake of a new Blunt campaign Web video -- now pulled off the internet -- that features footage from New York City's Ground Zero, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, juxaposed with audio of Carnahan declining to take a position on a mosque proposed to be built nearby.

Carnahan, currently Missouri's secretary of state, said in a statement this morning:

"Congressman Blunt’s desperate attempt to avoid talking about his role in the $700 billion bailout by exploiting victims and families of the 9-11 tragedies is the very worst kind of Washington politics. Congressman Blunt should immediately own up to what he did, take responsibility for it, and apologize to the families of the 9-11 victims, whose tragedy he exploited for his own personal political benefit."

Blunt's campaign spokesman said this morning, "Someone got carried away. It was up overnight and quickly replaced. It did not reflect the right tone and was quickly replaced with an image of Robin Carnahan and Barack Obama."

The video still includes audio of Carnahan's remarks , made during a Kansas City radio interview. Carnahan's campaign says the video does not include the complete interview, and inappropriately trimmed out part of her remarks.

Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer said the campaign stands by its chief point: "Roy Blunt opposes the Ground Zero mosque and Robin Carnahan has rubberstamped Barack Obama again by refusing to oppose it."

The original video, which was pulled, has shown up on YouTube. The Beacon had earlier obtained a copy.

Blunt reportedly denied knowledge of the spot when he was asked about it this morning at the Missouri State Fair. The video includes footage stating that it was produced and approved by his campaign.

State Democratic Party chairman Craig Hosmer declared his outrage this afternoon, asserting that the video shows that "Roy Blunt will say and do anything to get elected, and this time he got caught crossing way over the line of decency."

Hosmer echoed Carnahan's assertion that Blunt had seized on the mosque issue to shift the focus away from the continued debate over the congressman's role in the federal bank bailouts and deficit spending.

The incident underscores how the national debate over the New York mosque is overshadowing all other topics in Missouri's hot Senate contest, at least for the moment.


As we reported earlier:

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, is in the midst of a tour this week of rural communities, and will be at the Governor's Ham Breakfast this morning at the Missouri State Fair.

She also has just launched her second TV ad that attacks her GOP rival, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt

But so far, Carnahan appears to be attracting the most attention this week for something she's opted not to do.

She's declining to take a stand on the matter of the proposed mosque in New York City within a few blocks of Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that demolished the World Trade Center towers and killed almost 3,000 people. 

As the Beaconreported earlier, Carnahan told reporters in Kansas City on Wednesday that the matter of the mosque is "a local issue. I don’t profess to want to tell people in New York how to deal with this because I don’t want them telling us how to deal with things in Missouri."

She offered similar comments on a Kansas City radio show.

The state GOP and Blunt's campaign already are jabbing at Carnahan's stance, particularly since Blunt declared on Tuesday -- also in Kansas City -- that the proposed mosque should be moved.

"We constantly talk about what’s appropriate to put next to a 150-year-old Civil War battlefield," Blunt was quoted as saying."I think it’s totally appropriate to talk about what should be near Ground Zero..."

Carnahan and her campaign, however, want to keep the focus on Missouri -- and Blunt.

Carnahan, Blunt air new ads

Carnahan's second TV spot, began airing Wednesday. Like her first ad, it attacks Blunt's record during his 14 years in Congress.

But her latest spot also includes TV news footage from the fall of 2008 to drive home Carnahan's point that Blunt was a key figure in the initial bailout of the nation's troubled banks, and that he remains an ally of Wall Street. The ad dubs Blunt "Mr. Bailout."

The Blunt campaign filed a complaint last week with the Federal Election Commission about that first ad, because Carnahan placed the required "I approve this message" line at the beginning of the ad, instead of the end. (The complaint doesn't delve into the ad's content.)

Carnahan's campaign said her new ad is "the second step" in their narrative against Blunt, and has nothing to do with the FEC complaint against the first. The new ad has the same "approve this message" at the beginning, with a written repeat at the end.

(Click here to read about Blunt's latest ad, and his St. Louis stop on Tuesday.)

Carnahan's tour through Missouri's GOP-leaning rural territory comes as her labor allies are gearing up in the state's predominantly Democratic major cities. This morning in St. Louis, national AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler will kick off what is billed as "an unprecedented mobilization for the 2010 elections."

Shuler is to join teachers and other labor members early today as they handbill workers downtown with fliers that accuse Blunt of seeking to privatize Social Security and contend that he has shown "callous indifference to the nearly ten percent of Missourians who are unemployed."

Carnahan, Blunt stop by Governor's Ham Breakfast

In any case, the two Senate rivals found themselves literally under the same rural roof this morning in Sedalia, Mo. Carnahan is capping her outstate trip with a stop at arguably the biggest political outstate event of the year -- the annual Governor's Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair.

Most of Missouri's major political candidates and officeholders pack the fair's Director's Tent for the early-morning event that officially begins at 8 a,.m., but unofficially begins much earlier.

Blunt already has garnered the expected endorsement from the state's most influential rural group, the Missouri Farm Bureau. (The Bureau usually backs statewide Republicans.)

While at the fair, Blunt also announced endorsements from the Missouri Pork Producers, Missouri Cattlemen and the Missouri Corn Growers associations.

Still, both candidates shouldn't be surprised if reporters milling around the breakfast ignore both camps' new ads and latest campaign stops, and instead first ask about that New York mosque.

UPDATE: That's apparently what happened.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.