The leader of the Congressional Black Caucus is ripping Mitt Romney’s “repudiation” of a Republican group’s widely-derided and apparently-abandoned plan to link President Obama to his controversial ex-pastor Rev. Wright in new ads.
As The New York Times reported early Thursday, Joe Ricketts, the conservative founder of TD Ameritrade, had been weighing bankrolling a $10 million ad campaign to tie Obama to Wright's "black liberation theology," and cast the president as some sort of failed "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln." Facing an avalanche of criticism from both sides of the aisle, Ricketts has since renounced this plan, as has Romney.
But that's not nearly enough to undo the damage, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver argued to msnbc’s Al Sharpton on Thursday. The Democrat, who heads the Congressional Black Caucus, suggested that Romney could simply be criticizing the ads now so he can claim innocence if the ads do eventually come out.
“When this Super PAC comes out with these nasty, grotesque TV ads, he can say ‘well I condemned it earlier,’ while at the same time getting the extreme side of his party cheering,” the Democrat said.
Wright famously threw then-Sen. Obama's campaign into turmoil in the spring of 2008, when a video surfaced of Wright ripping American policies. Obama eventually cut ties with Wright and denounced his remarks. Obama then gave a widely-admired speech on race relations that seemed to put the controversy behind him in the minds of many Americans, though Wright has long remained a favorite target of those on the right.
On Thursday, Romney said he disapproved of the proposed ads, while simultaneously claiming that it's really President Obama’s team that is “running a campaign of character assassination.”
But that's inconsistent, Cleaver said, pointing to remarks Romney made about Wright and Obama a mere two months ago. During an interview on Sean Hannity's radio show, the former Massachusetts governor said Obama wanted to make the country a "less Christian nation" and brought up the president's previous support of Wright.
Romney and his aides "have thrown race into this election already," Cleaver said. "He can deny it all he wants, but the truth of the matter is it’s out there and it's food for a portion of his voting bloc that thinks it’s okay.”