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Published October 27 2010

GOP ad comes under fire for violating debate rules

A new ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee violates the rules of a debate between candidates in North Dakota’s U.S. House race, but the committee says it won’t stop running it.

The ad features video of comments by Democratic incumbent Earl Pomeroy during a debate against GOP challenger Rick Berg.

But the terms of the Oct. 11 debate prohibited “each campaign and each political party” from using any audio or video from the event in a campaign ad.

Pomeroy’s campaign takes issue with the ad because it violates the terms of the debate and perpetuates “a lie” by taking the comments out of context, spokesman Brenden Timpe said.

The quote used in the clip – “I’m voting for Nancy Pelosi to advance North Dakota. And that’s just how it is.” – marks the final words in a two-minute answer given by Pomeroy.

The NRCC was asked Monday to stop airing the ad and refused, said Jim Shaw, news director for Fargo’s KVRR-TV and president of the North Dakota Associated Press Broadcasters Association, which sponsored the event.

“I have an obligation to let people know there’s a violation going on, and the Republican Party doesn’t care,” Shaw said Tuesday, adding he was “dumbfounded” by the national committee’s refusal to drop the ad.

He said the committee’s actions tarnish the credibility of such debates.

The rules were stated before the event, but NRCC spokesman Tom Erickson said the committee did not agree to the debate’s terms, as Berg and Pomeroy had.

“We think that North Dakotans have a right to hear from Earl Pomeroy in his own words,” Erickson said Tuesday. “We were not part of the debate at all. That video was found online and is fair use.”

He said the clip came from YouTube, but provided no specific source.

A search of YouTube yielded no results of such a video. Instead, the footage appears to be taken without permission from video shot by a Forum reporter during the debate.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen M. Daum at (701) 241-5541