Nightly News | September 30, 2010
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor (Washington, DC): With the midterm elections getting close, the increasing noise is making news tonight across the country. The voter anger being channeled by various candidates for office. Tonight, opponents of the GOP nominee for governor of New York are saying he behaved like a thug in a piece of videotape that rocketed across the Internet today. Our own Kelly O'Donnell is here with us with all of it. Kelly , good evening.
KELLY O'DONNELL reporting: Good evening, Brian . There were nasty accusations flying back and forth and a confrontation that got really personal. Now that candidate, Carl Paladino has admitted his own infidelity and then just accused his opponent of cheating with no proof. That's what set off this fight. But the bigger picture is how many voters and candidates have been losing their cool.
Mr. CARL PALADINO: This guy's the attorney general and he's...
O'DONNELL: Anger management is not required or even expected this year.
Mr. PALADINO: You're his bird dog.
Unidentified Man #1: You made the charge.
O'DONNELL: Tea party Republican Carl Paladino unloaded on a reporter with a list of grievances in his race for New York governor .
Mr. PALADINO: You send another goon to my daughter's house...
Man #1: What do you have to back it up?
Mr. PALADINO: ... and I 'll take you out, buddy.
Man #1: You're going to take me out?
Mr. PALADINO: Yeah.
Man #1: How you going to do that?
Mr. PALADINO: Watch.
O'DONNELL: Around the country, the usual boundaries keep getting crossed as candidates sound off and act out voter's pent-up anger.
Mr. PHIL DAVISON (Stark County, Ohio): I will hit the ground running, come out swinging and end up winning.
O'DONNELL: In Maine this week, a candidate for governor lashed out at the president.
Unidentified Man #2: You're going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying, 'Governor Lepage tells Obama to go to hell.'
O'DONNELL: And Democrats like Congressman Anthony Weiner have boiled over, too.
Congressman ANTHONY WEINER: The gentleman will observe regular order and sit down! I will not!
O'DONNELL: In this anger fueled political environment...
Governor CHRIS CHRISTIE (Republican, New Jersey): You know what? It's people who raise their voices and yell and scream like you that are dividing this country. We're here to bring this country together, not to divide it.
O'DONNELL: Analysts say voters will choose to ignore some candidates' personal flaws or questionable credentials.
Mr. RON BROWNSTEIN (National Journal): When voters want to make a statement about their discontent, they will cross a lot of hurdles to do it, and there's just no question about that.
O'DONNELL: First-time candidates still get hit with old school political attacks. In California 's tight race for governor, Republican Meg Whitman has been accused of employing an illegal immigrant in her home. Attorney Gloria Allred claims Whitman knew the woman was undocumented. Whitman denies that.
Ms. MEG WHITMAN: And I think this is a typical political stunt, led by Gloria Allred , who does this just about every election cycle.
Ms. GLORIA ALLRED: As soon as somebody starts name calling me, I know that essentially I've won the argument.
O'DONNELL: Leveraging voter anger may help some outsider candidates win. But can it do the job?
Mr. BROWNSTEIN: It's going to be a challenge for many of these outsider candidates to transition to Washington and be effective. Some of them will, and some of them won't.
O'DONNELL: And we're seeing that when some of the candidates who show less than civil behavior get called out, they don't give the usual apology or clarification we're accustomed to seeing. Now Paladino , for example, he defended himself, said he was passionate, and then he didn't back down at all. So we're finding that anger itself is enough justification for some.
WILLIAMS: And we've got well over a month to go yet.
WILLIAMS: Kelly O'Donnell here with us in Washington . Kelly , thanks.