SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE
Charles Robb v. Oliver North, U.S. Senate, Virginia, 1994
The 1994 election year was very memorable. It was the year of the "Contract with America," the Clinton health-care debacle, and a Republican majority in Congress for the first time in a generation. It also featured a good many tough, competitive congressional races, none more so than the campaign for U.S. Senate in Virginia between incumbent Democrat Charles Robb, Republican nominee Oliver North, and independent candidate Marshall Coleman.
The race attracted national attention for obvious reasons. It was expected to be a slugfest, but it also had star appeal. Oliver North was the star witness in the Iran-Contra hearings of 1986, during which he became something of a celebrity. He was later convicted on federal charges relating to the Iran-Contra scandal, but that conviction was overturned on appeal because North had been granted immunity during the congressional hearings. Though to many this was a technicality, having no criminal conviction, he was cleared to run for federal office.
Both North and Robb were damaged goods, politically speaking. When Robb was first elected to the U.S. Senate, there were whispers of a future presidential run. He seemed to have it all. He was a former marine, had been a popular governor of Virginia, and even had a political pedigree—he was married to one of former president Lyndon Johnsons daughters. But then the rumors and allegations began to surface about drug use, adultery—the stuff of which negative campaigns are made.