Local Politics

McCain slams N.C. GOP for anti-Obama ad

Posted April 23, 2008 1:04 p.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2008 11:12 a.m. EDT

— John McCain, the Republican party's presumptive presidential candidate, has asked the party's North Carolina organization to pull a new ad that criticizes Democratic candidate Barack Obama – as well as the two leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

The ad, which the state GOP unveiled Wednesday morning, revives the link between Obama and his former minister in Chicago, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who has been criticized for comments from the pulpit against the Iraq War and President George W. Bush.

Obama later condemned the comments as divisive, but said Wright's statements highlighted the racial divide in the country that needed to be bridged. He also said Wright was being treated unfairly because a few comments taken from a career as a minister were being highlighted.

The ad shows Wright preaching and questions why Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and State Treasurer Richard Moore have endorsed Obama for president. The ad calls him "too extreme for North Carolina."

"The Democratic candidates ... show poor judgment and a lack of leadership by endorsing Barack Obama, a man too liberal for North Carolina, out of touch with North Carolinians' values and linked to extremist figures throughout his political career," state GOP Chairwoman Linda Daves said in a statement.

McCain sent a letter to Daves, asking her not to run the ad, which he called "offensive."

"I have been committed to running a respectful campaign based upon an honest debate about the great issues confronting America today. I expect all state parties to do so as well. The television advertisement you are planning to air degrades our civics and distracts us from the very real differences we have with the Democrats," McCain wrote.

"We need to run a campaign that is worthy of the people we seek to serve. There is no doubt that we will draw sharp contrasts with the Democrats on fundamental issues critical to the future course of our country. But we need not engage in political tactics that only seek to divide the American people," he wrote.

“He (McCain) would prefer that we not run the ad. ‘And how did you respond?’ Well, I didn't,” Daves said.

Obama said he would like to see McCain go a step further.

“I assume that if John McCain thinks it's an inappropriate ad that he can get them to pull it down since he's their nominee and standard bearer,” Obama said.

Daves argued the ad is about statewide issues, not presidential politics.

“Some people want to make this about Obama, but it is about these two candidates (Perdue and Moore) who are accountable to the voters of North Carolina,” she added.

But others disagree with Daves' position.

“I thought the ad was to hurt Obama primarily,” republican strategist Carter Wrenn said.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert Orr also called on the state party to pull the ad, and the North Carolina Democratic Party questioned the reasoning behind the ad.

"To criticize somebody for associating with somebody, who associates with somebody else is ludicrous. Where does it end?" said Jerry Meek, chairman of the state Democrats.

Despite the complaints, state GOP officials said they plan to run the ad.

The Moore and Perdue campaigns told WRAL the ad is nothing more than a distraction and a way to raise money for the state Republican party.

A WRAL spokesperson said the television station has decided not to air the ad.

Meanwhile, a key adviser to former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards threw his support behind Obama on Wednesday.

Ed Turlington, a Raleigh lawyer and Edwards' former campaign manager, was among 49 Edwards supporters to endorse Obama.

"Barack Obama and John Edwards share a commitment to taking on special interests and standing up for regular Americans. Along with Edwards supporters from across the state, I am honored to join Sen. Obama's movement for change,” Turlington said in a statement. “As president, he will bring together Democrats, Republicans and independents behind an agenda of change."

Other Edwards supporters endorsing Obama include former state House Majority Leader Phil Baddour, state Secretary of Cultural Resources Lisbeth Evans, former state Supreme Court justices Henry Frye and Willis Whichard, former Charlotte mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Harvey Gantt and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill board chairman Roger Perry.