POLITICAL INSIDER: Bono-backed anti-poverty group working to push candidates on issues

By Philip Elliott, AP
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

POLITICAL INSIDER: Bono’s One Vote works election

CONCORD, N.H. — A bipartisan group of senior political hands is supporting a Bono-backed effort to talk with candidates about global AIDS and poverty.

Former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta and former Republican Sens. Norm Coleman and Rick Santorum signed onto the One Vote 2010 campaign. Former White House press secretaries Mike McCurry and Dana Perino also are advising the issue advocacy push.

“This is not only the right thing to do in a humanitarian sense, it is also important to our own national security and future growth markets for American investment,” said Coleman, a former Republican senator from Minnesota. “One Vote 2010 is key to helping voters and candidates understand how American leadership in these areas is not partisan and must be maintained.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — An insider’s view of this year’s elections based on dispatches from around the nation.

Others in the group include former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle, a Democrat, and Bill Frist, a Republican. Consultants Tucker Eskew, Geoff Garin and Maggie Williams are also advising the group.

The Washington-based campaign is working with staff and volunteers here in New Hampshire and in Illinois, Ohio, Florida and Indiana — all states with open Senate races.

The campaign, with U2 frontman Bono as its champion, worked in 2008 to talk with presidential candidates and elicit pledges they would work to fight global AIDS and poverty. The campaign says it had more than 1,000 one-on-one contacts between volunteers and candidates, especially in early nominating states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Talk about being prepared.

Not an hour after Delaware Republicans nominated tea party-backed candidate Christine O’Donnell for an open U.S. Senate seat, her Democratic rival sent an e-mail to his supporters telling them it was “game on.”

“With Christine O’Donnell, we face an ideology rather than a record,” wrote county executive Chris Coons’ campaign. “One of Sarah Palin’s newest ‘Mama Grizzlies,’ O’Donnell will fight to roll back a woman’s right to choose and lead the charge against stem-cell research, falsely claiming that this ground breaking research exploits women. She has a record of supporting discrimination against gays and lesbians, and pressing for public schools to teach creationism.”

The e-mail then asks for donations.

“We cannot let Joe Biden’s seat fall into ultraconservative hands — into the grasp of a candidate who is out of touch with Delaware and the challenges we face,” the campaign wrote.

National Republicans had sought to block O’Donnell’s nomination, saying she was unelectable. Establishment candidates had backed Rep. Mike Castle, a nine-term incumbent who was one of the most moderate Republican members of the House.

In the first negative ad from a candidate in Kentucky’s general election campaign, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway portrays his Republican opponent as soft on crime, using Rand Paul’s words against him and showing a sheriff condemning his comments as “crazy.”

The 30-second ad scheduled to begin airing across Kentucky on Tuesday continues a theme for Conway, the state attorney general who is trying to elevate crime to a central issue in the Senate race.

Paul is shown saying “things that are nonviolent shouldn’t be against the law.”

Conway’s campaign says Paul made the comments in a 2008 interview on Kentucky Educational Television.

Conway and Paul are competing to replace Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, who is retiring after two terms.

Lincoln Chafee is getting a big-name endorsement from a fellow Republican-turned-independent.

Chafee’s campaign for Rhode Island governor says New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will visit Providence on Thursday to show his support for Chafee. Campaign manager J.R. Pagliarini says the visit came about after Bloomberg reached out to Chafee’s campaign to say he wanted to support it.

Bloomberg is a three-term mayor who become an independent the same year Chafee left the party in 2007.

Pagliarini says the two have met before and have some similar perspectives, having both been mayors. Chafee was mayor of Warwick before going to the Senate in 1999.

Associated Press writer Bruce Schreiner in Kentucky contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS that in Kentucky, Conway is running the first negative ad from a candidate.)

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