Center for American Progress Action

REVEALED: The Racist GOP Campaign To Smear The President

REVEALED: The Racist GOP Campaign To Smear The President

Authors

  • Advocacy Team

A Shameful Effort by Republicans to Divide Our Country

front-page New York Times story today exposed a shocking $10 MILLION racist campaign to smear the president that was prepared by GOP operatives and was merely awaiting final sign-off from a politically active right-wing billionaire. The campaign was to focus on the president’s previous ties to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a racially inflammatory topic that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) declared firmly off-limits during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Here’s the rundown on the latest right-wing effort to attack the president.

What was the smear campaign going to involve?

  • A 5-minute “film” meant to “inflame opinion” about Obama’s character and former ties Wright.
  • More than $8 MILLION in television and online ads.
  • A national tour of spokespeople, specifically to include an “extremely literate” black male.
  • A launch press conference and other activities in Charlotte, NC to coincide with the Democratic National Convention.

You can check out the entire 54-page attack plan, entitled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good,” here.

Who was going to pay for it?

Joe Ricketts, a right-wing  billionaire who founded TD Ameritrade and whose family owns the Chicago Cubs. Ricketts, who just so happened to sell $10.46 MILLION in TD Ameritrade stock last month, was to bankroll the project through his Ending Spending Super PAC.

On page 3 of the planning document, Rickets is quoted as saying, “If the nation had seen that [unaired McCain ad featuring Rev. Wright], they’d never have elected Barack Obama.”

Despite professing strong opposition to government spending, Ricketts and his family (some of whom are Democrats) are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers funds to update Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

Who was going to execute the campaign?

A team of GOP operatives, led by notorious ad man Fred Davis, who has a history of making race-baiting ads.  Davis was to make the film and manage a team of “pirates” who would be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to execute the six-month effort.

Fred Davis was McCain’s ad man during 2008 and famously pushed McCain to use Rev. Wright against Obama, which McCain, to his credit, steadfastly refused to allow. The game plan for the smear campaign begins with “Our plan is to do exactly what John McCain would not let us do.”

Davis’ other clients during the current election cycle include Jon Huntsman, GOP Reps.  Ben Quayle (AZ), Steve King (IA), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).

How did Mitt Romney respond?

When asked by a reporter this morning if the Wright issue was off the table for 2012, Romney refused to say that it was and responded weakly that he hadn’t “read the papers yet.” Only later did his campaign manager and then Romney himself repudiate the effort, while also whining that the Obama campaign was engaging in “character assasination” for exposing Romney’s record at Bain Capital. Interestingly, the conservative website to which Romney made his first comments on the smear campaign itself traffics in Rev. Wright attacks, including one recent column on Wright by the very same man who was to be the official spokesman for the effort.

Despite “repudiating” the line of attack, it also emerged today that Romney himself had used the Rev. Wright attack against Obama as recently as February. When quizzed about that apparent contradiction at a hastily called press conference this afternoon, Romney responded, “I stand by what I said, whatever it was.”

Watch Romney stand by his Rev. Wright attack:

What now?

It appears that exposing the shameful, racist campaign has probably killed it. Joe Ricketts issued a statement distancing himself from the plan that bears his name:

Joe Ricketts is a registered independent, a fiscal conservative, and an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the so-called “Ricketts Plan” to defeat Mr. Obama that The New York Times wrote about this morning. Not only was this plan merely a proposal – one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors – but it 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.

The statement did not explain how Ricketts can both reject dirty racial politics and yet also believe that Americans would not have elected President Obama in 2008 if only they’d heard more about Rev. Wright.

TD Ameritrade, the company Ricketts founded, also found itself in the cross-fire and quickly moved to distance itself from him and his comments.

IN ONE SENTENCE: Once again, when presented with the opportunity to stand up to intolerance in his own party, Mitt Romney once again hesitated and was exposed to have used the attack himself.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed

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John McCain and his former campaign manager today stood by their decision to keep the Rev. Wright issue off limits in 2008.

Mitt Romney said the JP Morgan fiasco is “just the way America works.”

A growing number of African-Americans are supporting marriage equality in the wake of the president’s evolution.

Senators introduced a bill to ban wealthy people who renounce their U.S. citizenship to avoid taxes from ever entering the country again.

TED refuses to release a talk on income inequality, claiming it was “overly partisan.”

A Bain Capital protegé who also bankrupted companies and shifted pension liabilities onto taxpayers is holding a high-dollar fundraiser for Mitt Romney today.

Poll: 3 in 4 Americans believe the feds should back off marijuana users who comply with state laws.

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Authors

Advocacy Team