Dem Says Opponent Is 'Taliban Dan'; Ad Rated False Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson manipulated audio and video to make his Republican opponent appear to say the opposite of what he actually said, FactCheck.org determines.
NPR logo Dem Says Opponent Is 'Taliban Dan'; Ad Rated False

Dem Says Opponent Is 'Taliban Dan'; Ad Rated False

An endangered Florida congressman is calling his Republican opponent "Taliban Dan'' in an effort to paint him as a religious extremist.

But the ad manipulates video to make that opponent appear to say the opposite of what he meant, an independent fact-checking organization says.

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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.''

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.''

According to the nonpartisan FactCheck.org, Gray uses "edited video to make his rival appear to be saying the opposite of what he really said." Of the Bible passage, FactCheck says, "in fact, Webster was cautioning husbands to avoid taking that passage as their own." According to FactCheck, Webster actually says "don't pick" the Bible verses that say "She should submit to me."

FactCheck adds that:

"This is the second time in as many weeks that the Grayson campaign has resorted to cheap gimmicks to attack his opponent. As we wrote last week, Grayson falsely claimed Webster 'refused the call to service' during the Vietnam War. In fact, Webster received routine student deferments in high school and college, and was disqualified for medical reasons after college."

Webster's campaign manager, Brian Graham, tells The Orlando Sentinel that "time and again, Alan Grayson has shown that he cannot be truthful."

Grayson's campaign manager, Susannah Randolph, responds in the Sentinel by arguing that Webster has "always pushed an agenda that is anti-woman."

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.''

(Update at 1:05 p.m. ET, Sept. 28: PolitiFact.com has also issued a verdict on the ad, and also gives it a "false." It says that Webster's words "are clearly taken out of context thanks to some heavy-handed editing. The actual point of Webster's 2009 speech was that husbands should love their wives.")