Plan to Tie Obama to Rev. Wright Rejected by GOP Super-PAC

Justin Sink, The Hill, May 17, 2012

A proposal from a GOP-leaning super-PAC to run attack ads against President Obama based on his relationship with his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was floated and rejected within hours on Thursday.

Both Mitt Romney and Obama’s campaign denounced the ad proposal after it was reported in The New York Times Thursday morning. On Thursday afternoon, the Ending Spending Action Fund super-PAC, run by billionaire Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, put out a statement rejecting the plan to spend $10 million to link Obama and Wright in a “big, attention-arresting way.”

The proposal “reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take. Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a President this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally,” according to a statement from the Ending Spending Action Fund.

Romney personally repudiated the super-PAC’s plan in an interview with the blog Town Hall.

“I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they’ve described. I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity—particularly for those in the middle class of America,” he said.

The Obama campaign was first to respond to the report, accusing Romney of reacting “tepidly in a moment that required moral leadership.”

“This morning’s story revealed the appalling lengths to which Republican operatives and super-PACs apparently are willing to go to tear down the President and elect Mitt Romney.  The blueprint for a hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination speaks for itself,” said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a statement.

{snip}

Even though the super-PAC rejected plans to run the ads, it has brought Wright, and memories about his controversial sermons, back to the forefront of the presidential race.

Wright’s sermons, which included controversial remarks about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, were a huge campaign issue in the 2008 race.

Several Republican operatives were angry that Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP nominee that cycle, did not use Wright in his attacks against Obama.

The proposal by Ricketts’s super-PAC noted the plan would “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,” according to the Times. {snip}

{snip}

The concept for the ad campaign was developed by Republican media guru Fred Davis, who made the 2008 ad comparing Obama to Paris Hilton and unsuccessfully pushed McCain to attack Obama for his ties to Wright. He’s also known for the “Demon Sheep” ad that went viral two years ago.

Davis, in a statement, emphasized his plan was merely a proposal.

“The document referred to in today’s New York Times story was one proposal prepared and submitted by Strategic Perception Inc. The Ricketts family never approved it, and nothing has happened on it since the presentation,” he said.

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