Mitt Romney and conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts are both distancing themselves from a proposed anti-Obama ad that is being described as “Swift Boats on steroids.”
According to Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times, the Ending Spending Action Fund — a Super PAC bankrolled by Ricketts — wants to “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,” and remind American voters of President Obama’s ties to his controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. To do so, they commissioned Fred Davis (of “I’m not a witch” fame) to create “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good.”
According to the ad’s storyboard, which was obtained by the Times, it would feature a number of absurd shots at the President, emphasizing his ties to Wright (who the ad calls “the inspiration for [Obama’s] life,”) claiming that he begs, kneels and apologizes for America (a claim that has been repeatedly debunked,) and mixing in footage of the September 11th attacks for good measure.
The advertising plan also contains preparations on how to respond to the inevitable charges that it engages in race baiting by accusing Obama of buying into “black liberation theology:”
The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”
Romney quickly distanced himself from the plan in an interview with Townhall.com, while also taking a backhanded swipe at the president:
“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. And I think what we’ve seen so far from the Obama campaign is a campaign of character assassination. I hope that isn’t the course of this campaign. So in regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they’re thinking about … It’s interesting that we’re talking about some Republican PAC that wants to go after the president [on Wright]; I hope people also are looking at what he’s doing, and saying ‘why is he running an attack campaign? Why isn’t he talking about his record?'”
More surprisingly, Ricketts has distanced himself from the proposed “Ricketts plan” as well.
“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,” Brian Baker, president of the Ending Spending Action Fund, told The Washington Post.
Similarly, Davis’ firm released a statement saying that “the Ricketts family never approved” the proposal “and nothing has happened on it since the presentation.”
According to the Times, the Ending Spending Action Fund plans to upend the Democratic National Convention with a $10 million television ad buy along with “outdoor advertisements and huge aerial banners flying over the convention site.” After Romney and Rickett’s statements, however, it seems unlikely that the banners will feature a well-groomed black man in a stovepipe hat.