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Grayson shrugs off criticism, stands by 'Taliban Dan' campaign commercial

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, refuses to concede his ad against Republican challenger Dan Webster distorted Webster's views toward women.

"Of course not," he said when asked if he would apologize.

At issue is a campaign commercial portraying Webster as someone who believes wives should "submit" to their husbands. The ad makes it sound that way, and likens Webster to a member of the Taliban.

In fact, Webster was urging the opposite in the video from which an edited comment is taken and replayed in the Grayson ad.

In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Grayson denied several times that his ad was false.

"Let's not exalt form over substance," he said. "The substance of the ad is that he has a world view that is unbelievably twisted."

The commercial lifts a partial quote from a comment Webster made in 2007 in a seminar put on by the Institute in Basic Life Principles, in which he urges listeners to have a Bible verse that they associate with their spouses.

Not the one that says "wives submit yourselves to your husbands," he cautioned the audience. "She can pray that if she wants to, but don't you pray it," Webster said.

"The sect that he belongs to is documented on record as having the very beliefs that he was describing, this whole business of submission," Grayson said of the institute.

Webster has been involved with the group for decades, but in a 2003 interview with the Times, he refused to discuss specific teachings.

"People can argue about 'in context, out of context' forever," Grayson said, "but the substance of the ad is demonstratively true."

The ad claimed legislation Webster sponsored as a state legislator would have made divorce illegal, even for abused wives.

The ad has made national news since it began appearing over the weekend. The controversy has given a boost to Webster's campaign and helped him raise about $130,000 in two days.

Could it backfire on Grayson?

"Ask me on Nov. 3," he said.

Grayson shrugs off criticism, stands by 'Taliban Dan' campaign commercial 09/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 1, 2010 8:32am]
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