North Carolina's Republican Party chairwoman has been making the media rounds to defend an ad slamming Barack Obama and his supporters that's been loudly denounced by pretty much everyone who doesn't lead North Carolina's Republican party.
The ostensible targets of the TV spot are two Democrats running for governor in the state, both of whom have endorsed Obama. It's the first from an official GOP organ to invoke controversial comments from Barack Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and it argues that Obama is too "extreme" to be trusted to lead.
Linda Daves, North Carolina's GOP chair, appeared on MSNBC Friday and, with a straight-face, insisted that the ad "is not about the national campaign," and she blamed "the media" for "fanning the flames on this."
The circumstances surrounding the ad's debut suggest the absurdity of those assertions.
That the ad opens with footage of Wright saying "God damn America" and that it started airing two weeks before Obama and Hillary Clinton face off in North Carolina's presidential primary would suggest that the state party knew and expected that its spot would receive widespread media coverage. Indeed, the dozens of airings presumably saved the state party quite a bit of money while distributing their message, and this was perhaps the plan all along. The ad even debuted online, and reporters were pointed to it before the party put any "real money behind" it.
The Republican National Committee and GOP nominee John McCain have denounced the ad and asked the state party not to air it. Two North Carolina TV stations have refused to run the ad.
Daves insisted that the ad's only targets were Democrats Bev Perdue and Richard Moore, who she accused of having "no message" and trying to "hook onto coattails."
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer quickly asked why those concerns weren't mentioned in the advertisement that focused so heavily on Wright:
"Why are you running an ad that doesn't talk about the issues?" she asked, at which point the video feed connecting her to Daves went black.
"Apparently we lost her at a very opportune time," Brewer said. "Right when I wanted that question answered."
A few minutes later the video hook-up was restored and Daves had the chance to answer the question. She justified invoking Wright with the baffling argument that the Democratic gubernatorial candidates had the burden to vocally denounce the comments they had never heard from a man they never met made in a church they probably hadn't come within a thousand miles of.
"It would seem such a simple thing to say we still endorse the senator for president, but we, like him, do not agree with [Wright's] anti-American sentiment," Daves said. "That just makes common sense, you know you don't even have to go to college to figure that out."
For the record, Daves herself did go to college.
This video is from MSNBC's News Live, broadcast April 25, 2008.