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CNN Today

Controversy Surrounds Michael Curtiss' Illinois Congressional Campaign Gun Raffle

Aired January 7, 2000 - 1:33 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Campaign financing: It is shaping up to be a hot-button issue in this year's elections, but a congressional campaign in Illinois has managed to combine it with an issue that's even more controversial: gun control.

Here's Lisa Price.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL CURTISS (R), ILLINOIS CONG. CANDIDATE: We reached out and got the most politically-incorrect weapons we could find.

LISA PRICE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Forget the $1,000-a- plate dinners. Michael Curtiss, Republican candidate for Congress in Illinois' 17th district, has gone the way of firepower fundraisers.

CURTISS: This is a .45 caliber, compact .45 caliber pistol...

PRICE: Raffling off guns like these...

CURTISS: The rifle up on top is a semiautomatic Bulgarian copy.

PRICE: ... To raise money for his political campaign.

CURTISS: It was a way of making a statement, too: Hands off, this is my Second Amendment right to bear arms.

PRICE: Up until recently, Curtiss made his career as a small- town doctor, but last spring, he decided he could do greater good as a politician. A newcomer to the race, the district's political veterans believe he'll end up with less than 10 percent of the vote. He calls himself a patriot and is against abortion, U.S. trade policies and, at the top of the list: gun control.

(on camera): While many of the residents living in Illinois' 17th district believe in the right to bear arms, there are still those who believe the Michael Curtiss for Congress campaign has crossed the line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a lot of his views are very far from the middle, which is where I tend to travel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost appalling that a candidate's raffling off handguns to finance a campaign.

PRICE (voice-over): Not even the NRA has supported him.

At five dollars a ticket, Curtiss says the raffle has so far raised about $30,000.

ED TIBBETTS, "QUAD-CITY TIMES": Among some Republicans, the fact that he's raffling off guns is not going to be such a big deal. Now, when you get more towards the middle of the road and the left side of the political spectrum, I think that'll raise some eyebrows.

PRICE: That's precisely what Curtiss aims to do. Though he is the dark horse candidate in the primary, he says the raffle has not only added money to his campaign but, in his words, "magic."

Lisa Price for CNN, Rock Island, Illinois.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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