The billionaire said to be weighing a proposal to resurrect racial politics into the 2012 campaign shelved the idea today after President Obama and Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney denounced the tactic.
An aide to Joe Ricketts, founder of Nebraska-based TD Ameritrade Securities and owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, said the proposal to draw the Rev. Jeremiah Wright into the presidential campaign -- and the issue of race, by extension -- went too far.
The New York Times reported today that Ricketts' Ending Spending Action Fund, a conservative super PAC, was considering a proposal for a $10 million TV ad campaign highlighting Wright's sermons.
The blueprint, titled "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: the Ricketts Plan to End His Spending For Good," was devised by a group of Republican strategists and right-wing consultants.
"Our plan is to do exactly what (2008 GOP presidential nominee) John McCain would not let us do: Show the world how Barack Obama's opinions of America and the world were formed," the proposal said. "And why the influence of that misguided mentor and our president's formative years among left-wing intellectuals has brought our country to its knees."
The group suggested hiring an "extremely literate conservative African-American" spokesman who can argue that Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln."
Wright became a problem for Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign when videos of the pastor's sermons surfaced. In a 2003 sermon, Wright said black people should condemn the United States for oppressing African-Americans with drugs, prisons and three-strike laws.
Obama delivered a major speech on race relations to try to quell the controversy and severed ties to Wright.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina criticized the Ricketts plan as a "campaign of character assassination" and urged Romney to come out against it.
At first, Romney declined to comment, claiming he hadn't yet read The New York Times article. But later in the morning, he urged the independent group, which favors his candidacy, to abandon the Wright strategy, as John McCain had done in 2008.
Now don't give Romney too much credit here. He actually used Obama's former association with Wright to attack Obama during an interview with Sean Hannity just three months ago, saying "I’m not sure which is worse, him listening to Reverend Wright or him saying that we must be a less Christian nation."
Listen to it:
Brian Baker, president of the super PAC, says the Ricketts plan was "merely a proposal." But he knows the damage is already done. They have indeed resurrected racial politics into the 2012 campaign.
And just talking about it smacks of desperation, an acknowledgement that Romney is a weak candidate and that we got to go back down this road to win.
But it didn't work in 2008 when President Obama was a U.S. Senator and it won't work now he's president with a clear record.
So righties, this is was your big plan for winning in 2012 -- another failed idea from the past? What's next, resurrection of the birther issue?
Ed is planning extended coverage of this tonight on The Ed Show at 8pET on msnbc with Ben LaBolt of Obama for America, Sam Stein, Huffington Post political editor and msnbc Analyst Richard Wolffe.