MARIETTA, Ohio – Former Mideast hostage Terry Anderson (search) walked out of a debate in his state Senate campaign, angry over his opponent's use of a photo of him with an official of the Hezbollah guerrilla group.
Anderson, a Democrat, faulted a brochure from Republican Sen. Joy Padgett (search) that says he suggested shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorism that "America's enemies have reason to hate us."
Anderson was chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press when he was kidnapped in Lebanon by Iranian-sponsored terrorists in 1985. He was freed in 1991.
At Wednesday's debate, Anderson declined to answer the first question, instead making a statement of protest and then walking out.
"The man in this picture that they use to imply that I am soft on terrorists is the secretary general of Hezbollah, the Party of God," Anderson said. "He and his brothers were the ones who kidnapped me, chained me, blindfolded me and beat me. ... And my political opponent uses a picture of that interview to try to win an election."
The two are running Nov. 2 in a southeastern Ohio district that has not elected a Democrat since 1972.
The brochure is illustrated with a photo of Anderson sitting across from a turban-clad man who is not identified in the brochure. Anderson said the photo was taken when he returned to Lebanon to confront his captors.
The brochure referred to a comment by Anderson in October 2001 during an Ohio University panel discussion of U.S. media coverage overseas, including the Mideast. The Athens News quoted Anderson as asking, "Are we willing to accept that they hate us, not because they're crazy, but because we've done something wrong?"
Padgett said she was offended by Anderson's 2001 statement and defended the brochure.
"I feel that if he says it and it's in print and he's never objected to the newspaper printing it, then it's right for the public to know where he stands on these issues," she said after the debate.
Padgett, a former teacher, House member and director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia, was appointed to the seat earlier this year when the incumbent resigned to take a job with the governor.