The wealthy white businessman who owns the Chicago Cubs and the TD Ameritrade brokerage firm is considering spending $10 million on a nasty campaign on behalf of Republican candidate Mitt Romney to refocus the public’s attention on President Obama’s relationship with his former pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, who retired in 2008 from Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ.
The New York Times was given a copy of a slick 54-page proposal that has been presented to the businessman, Joe Ricketts, for him to finance through one of his SuperPACs. Someone not involved with Ricketts’ plans gave the proposal to the Times because of a concern about its “tone.”
“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” the proposal reads. It was prepared by Strategic Perception, the political advertising firm of Fred Davis, who worked on the campaign of former candidate Jon Huntsman and who has been creating negative advertising for Republican candidates for years—including ads for John McCain in 2008. The proposal, entitled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good,” illustrates just how eager powerful Republican forces are to use racial hatred as a vehicle to get white Americans aligned against the president.
Brian Baker, president and general counsel of a super PAC called the Ending Spending Action Fund, told the Times that Mr. Ricketts had been given several advertising proposals and hasn’t yet made a decision about which one he wants to use to employ his millions.
“Joe Ricketts is prepared to spend significant resources in the 2012 election in both the presidential race and Congressional races,” Mr. Baker said. “He is very concerned about the future direction of the country and plans to take a stand.”
Reacting to the Times story, Jim Messina, Obama campaign manager, said, “This morning’s story revealed the appalling lengths to which Republican operatives and SuperPacs apparently are willing to go to tear down the President and elect Mitt Romney. The blueprint for a hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination speaks for itself. It also reflects how far the party has drifted in four short years since John McCain rejected these very tactics. Once again, Governor Romney has fallen short of the standard that John McCain set, reacting tepidly in a moment that required moral leadership in standing up to the very extreme wing of his own party.”
In the proposal, Ricketts is quoted as saying that if John McCain had used in the 2008 campaign a negative commercial linking Obama to Dr. Wright, the nation “never would have elected Barack Obama.”
Despite Ricketts’ claims and apparent plans to use Rev. Wright, it’s hard to imagine how Republicans could get any nastier in their use of Wright than they did in 2008—nor how they could find any damning new evidence of connections to Obama that weren’t explored and dragged through the media for months four years ago.
While many whites were quick to call Wright, a former Marine, racist or unpatriotic because of his impassioned—and historically accurate—critiques of America’s racist past, black observers and anyone who has spent time inside a black church couldn’t understand how Wright’s words were any different than those uttered by black preachers all across America every Sunday.
In the midst of the firestorm that was created by his longtime membership in Wright’s church, Obama gave his memorable “race” speech in Philadelphia in March 2008.
“I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community,” then Sen. Obama said about Dr. Wright. “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother—a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.”