VOTE 2012 -- May 17, 2012 at 2:08 PM ET
Conservative Group Rejects Ad Proposal Tying Obama to Wright
A proposed $10 million TV ad campaign linking President Obama to his controversial former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, right, will reportedly not make it to the small screen.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that a conservative group tied to TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts would not implement the proposed campaign, which was first detailed by the New York Times.
A group of Republican strategists had pushed the effort, titled "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: the Ricketts Plan to End His Spending For Good." The blueprint included clips of the Wright's incendiary sermons, which first came to light during the 2008 campaign.
Brian Baker, president of the Ending Spending Action Fund, released a statement Thursday on behalf of Ricketts:
Not only was this plan merely a proposal -- one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors -- but 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. Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a President this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally.
When word of the campaign first broke Thursday morning, it resulted in immediate backlash from supporters of the president.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina issued a statement accusing presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney of "reacting tepidly" to the story.
"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," Messina said. "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."
For its part, the Romney campaign initially responded with a statement encouraging people to focus on jobs and the economy. Romney himself weighed in later in an interview with the conservative Townhall website.
"I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they've described," Romney declared. "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."
Still, the former Massachusetts governor charged that Republicans weren't the only ones launching negative attacks, saying: "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."