Republican Elizabeth Dole was ousted from the Senate last night by an eight-point margin. After months of a tough and often negative campaign, her opponent, Kay Hagan, became the first Democrat since 1973 to claim the seat long-held in Jesse Helms's iron grip.
And yet, Dole couldn't go quietly. In her concession speech, she used religion to take a dig at Hagan just one more time. Describing a recent visit to Taylorsville, N.C., where she saw several war memorials, Dole subtly invoked her infamous "godless" ad, for which Hagan filed a defamation suit just last week on grounds that Dole wrongfully implied the Democrat didn't believe in a higher being:
"Yet with all that history of sacrifice from the small hill town, you can bet that love of our state and love of our country have never been stronger. We began at the Taylorsville event with bowed heads and a prayer to our maker, and we did not begin our speechmaking until we faced the flag, placed our hands on our hearts, and recited the pledge of allegiance. And yes, we pledged all to an America united as one nation under God."
Dole emphasized the final two words, which were met with sustained applause from the crowd. She then defended her ads, insisting she had been forced to fight "as hard as I could" by "people from faraway places"--presumably, MoveOn.org and the DSCC, which spent millions to criticize Dole's record and ties to President Bush.
Dole also reminded the crowd flatly that "historic winds have swept across the political landscape, unsettling allegiances and toppling traditions." And indeed, this election did; it revealed the power of the South's changing demographics--its burgeoning metropolitan areas comprised of people from other states, and other countries, who increasingly trend center-left. Conservatives no longer wield the uncompromised power they enjoyed for so long.
On the night that North Carolina, which went for Bush by a 12-point margin in 2004, delivered millions upon millions of votes to a Democratic presidential nominee, leaving the state's winner up in the air, it seemed as though Dole was waving farewell not just to a job but also to a disappearing South she once knew.