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Ryall on North Carolina ‘Godless’ Ad (Updated!)

Updated: Apr 15

From the ‘Where Are They Now’ file: Once upon a time, Marty Ryall was the executive director of the Republican Party of Arkansas, before taking off to be a Republican political operative in other states. In 2008, he found himself managing the campaign of incumbent GOP Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who was vulnerable for a variety of reasons, most of them self-inflicted and long pre-dating Ryall’s involvement with the candidate.

In the waning days of the campaign, the Dole camp ran a controversial ad titled “Godless,” hitting Dole’s opponent, Democrat Kay Hagan, for attending a fundraiser hosted by atheists. The ad didn’t help, and Hagan coasted to victory.

Ryall weighs in on the to-do with this piece in Politics Magazine explaining the strategic and tactical decisions to run the ‘Godless’ ad, and its effect on the race. (He argues the effects were negligible because they were losing anyway.)

I only had a vague memory of the ad, because I spent most of last fall weeping uncontrollably, so I went and looked it up on YouTube, where I found this long-form version:


I’m sure watching this high-quality ad, you’ll think, as I did: Wow, I just can’t believe that didn’t work! Which is to say, it is the stupidest thing ever.

UPDATE: A helpful Arkansas Project reader sends a note that the video above is a longer version of the ad distributed for web viewing by the National Republican Senatorial Committee — here’s the link to the tighter 30-second version, which is the actual topic of Ryall’s article.

Also, be sure to check out the comments section, where commenter Barbara offers a little criticism — and Mr. Ryall steps in to speak for himself. Good stuff.

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