U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge’s opponent for the 2nd Congressional seat, Renee Ellmers, told The N&O this morning she had nothing to do with the video that has been circling the Internet today – and had in fact just seen it this morning when someone posted it to her Facebook page.
“This is very unfortunate for Congressman Etheridge,” she told Barb Barrett. “My personal feeling on it is I’m shocked at what I saw on the video. I just think it is a very unfortunate situation. He was obviously having a bad day. It’s almost like I’m speechless about it; I don’t know even what to think about it at this point.”
She hinted at previous glimpses of Etheridge’s emotions, though, citing the tension-filled town hall meetings from last August that took place amid the health reform debate.
“We’ve seen his temper here in District 2, especially back at some of the town halls he’s done,” she said. “Every once in a while he’d get rattled. We’ve seen him shake his finger at constituents, but I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude. It’s very -- it’s a bad situation for him.”
The video went viral this morning, and Ellmers saw the impact immediately in her online campaign account. Between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., she said, some 50 people had made donations ranging from $20 to $100. Money came in from California and Wisconsin, among other states.
Ellmers said, though, that she is unsure what the video would mean for her campaign.
“I hate to try to gain ground with someone else’s mistake,” she said. “I want to win on my merits, on my message, on my political philosophy, on how I want to turn the country around, not because someone made a very bad mistake.”
She also said this, a few hours before appearing at a news conference with N.C. GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer:
“I hate to stick the dagger in deeper. That’s not going to gain me anything,” Ellmers said. “If (Etheridge) comes out and is completely apologetic, that’s not going to help me to be ugly about it.”