Documents obtained by a pair of New York Times reporters detail a plan by a conservative super PAC to attack President Barack Obama as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln” and to dredge up the controversy surrounding pastor Jeremiah Wright. The strategy plan, including storyboards for a $10 million TV ad campaign, was commissioned by billionaire businessman Joe Ricketts and overseen by Republican media strategist Fred Davis, according to the Times.
The plan, entitled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good,” has been disavowed by the Romney campaign. In it, strategists urged the PAC, known as the Ending Spending Action Fund, to hire an “extremely literate conservative African-American” to act as a spokesperson who will decry the president as “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln” who has misled the nation. The Times reported that conservative talk-show host Larry Elder has been approached by the document’s authors, who were aides to John McCain in 2008.
The document, which is still waiting for approval by Ricketts, insisted that in 2012, Republicans must “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do” in 2008, which is to resurrect the inflammatory words and sentiments of pastor Jeremiah Wright, whose church the Obama family attended in Chicago. McCain, who the report calls “a crusty old politician who often seemed confused, burdened with a campaign just as confused,” called on his media team to drop the line of attack that bound Wright’s extreme views to then-Senator Obama.
Davis, the Republican operative who authored the McCain campaign’s “Celebrity” ad, as well as the somewhat unconventional “Demon Sheep” ad for California gubernatorial candidate Carly Fiorina, felt that the McCain campaign missed a crucial opportunity to derail the Obama campaign in 2008. The campaign, which carries the imprint of Davis’s firm, Strategic Perception, seeks to highlighting Wright’s influence on the president, “And why the influence of that misguided mentor and our president’s formative years among left-wing intellectuals has brought our country to its knees.”
Ricketts founded the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade and, thanks to looser campaign restrictions on private money and the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision, he has been able to apply his considerable fortune to influencing the outcome of political races. Brian Baker, president and general counsel for Ending Spending said, “Joe Ricketts is prepared to spend significant resources in the 2012 election in both the presidential race and Congressional races. He is very concerned about the future direction of the country and plans to take a stand.”
The amount of private money being spent on elections has exploded this election cycle. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the percentage of undisclosed independent campaign spending leapt from 1 percent in the 2006 election cycle to 43.8 percent in 2010.
UPDATE: The Washington Post blog “The Fix” has announced via Twitter that Ricketts’s office has issued a statement regarding the proposed plan that says, “It reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted.”
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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