News & Election Videos

September 13, 2008

The Willie Horton of Oregon?

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) is hoping that convicted rapist Richard Gillmore becomes the Willie Horton of Oregon politics.

Smith unleashed two new blistering attack ads against Democrat Jeff Merkley, suggesting his opponent is responsible for allowing a serial rapist to soon be released from jail.

One ad features one of Gillmore’s victims, Tiffany Edens, speaking into the camera, accusing Merkley of opposing mandatory life sentences for serial rapists.

“Jeff Merkley — you should have voted to protect victims, not rapists,” Edens says.

The ads pack an emotional punch, and come at a much-needed time for the second-term senator. Smith was trailing Merkley in the Democrat’s most recent internal polling.

Merkley spokesman Matt Canter called the ads the “worst kind of Washington politics from a desperate politician, who will do whatever it takes to get reelected."

Smith is hoping these ads change the subject after he received unwanted scrutiny over whether his frozen foods company hired illegal immigrants.