Calling the attack ad "racist and gutter politics," the Democratic Party reacted to a North Carolina GOP attack ad that features Reverend Wright and that calls Barack Obama "extreme." The ad is drawing harsh criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
In an exclusive to Huffingtonpost by the leading Democratic presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama said, "Well, my understanding is that the Republican National Committee and John McCain have both said the ad is inappropriate. I take them at their word. And I assume that if John McCain thinks that it's an inappropriate ad that he can get them to pull it down since he's their nominee and standard-bearer."
This is the first day of early primary voting in North Carolina and the Tar Heel (Hell) GOP wasted no time unleashing their first attack ad of the season against the near-presumptive Democratic presidential nominee from Illinois and two of his North Carolinian supporters -- Bev Perdue and Richard Moore -- both of whom are vying for their party's gubernatorial nomination.
The state GOP describes the ad on its website as an "Extreme Ad."
The spot opens with the voiceover: "For 20 years, Barack Obama sat in his pew listening to his pastor" then shows the oft-repeated Reverend Wright "God Damn, America" video clip followed by more voiceover: "Now Bev Perdue and Richard Moore endorse Barack Obama. They should know better. He's just too extreme for North Carolina."
A sweet looking older lady, North Carolina GOP Chairwoman Linda Daves, delivers the last swipe of the spot: "The North Carolina Republican Party sponsored this ad opposing Bev Perdue and Richard Moore for North Carolina Governor."
Bev Perdue, the current North Carolina Lt. Governor, told Huffingtonpost, "It's just more gutter politics that voters will see right through. The ad has absolutely nothing to do with North Carolina and is just a distraction from the real issues facing our state."
Richard Moore was traveling today with his press secretary and had not yet responded to our request for a statement.
John McCain released a letter sent to Linda Daves and her state party "imploring her not to run" the ad stating, "This ad does not live up to the very high standards we should hold ourselves to in this campaign...We need to not engage in political tactics that only seek to divide the American people...Once again, it is imperative that you withdraw this offensive advertisement."
"It's the height of hypocrisy that the NC GOP would start running this racist ad even as John McCain tours African-American communities this week, pretending to be a different brand of Republican politics," said Jerry Meek, North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman in a press release denouncing the "divisive ad."
Meek wants McCain to do more than just send a letter to Daves. In his press release, he said, "While we appreciate Senator McCain's willingness to keep the campaign on higher ground, he should have acted sooner. News of this story has been buzzing for the past 24 hours. If McCain really wanted North Carolina Republicans to be worthy of the principles he believes, he could have picked up the phone and called Ms. Daves."
What are Republicans doing sticking their noses into a Democratic primary race, anyway?
"Yeah, it's weird because they usually don't start sliming us until the general election, but the Republican Party in North Carolina isn't in good shape. They're probably using the ad as a way to raise money. That's what they usually do. This is just a sign of things to come," said one long-time Democratic operative working for a statewide candidate in Raleigh.
The NC GOP has yet to purchase any buys for the attack ad. It's running on YouTube and will doubtless be seen for free on the network news and political shows with talking heads who have time on their hands to fill before the May 6 primaries in North Carolina and Indiana.
But the mud and the blood are just starting to run in the Tar Heel state where 115 delegates are up for grabs. Senator Obama currently holds a double-digit lead in North Carolina. Indiana's 72 delegates are also in play, where Senator Clinton hopes to capture enough votes to keep her debt-ridden campaign alive.
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