Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Romney, Super-Pac Reject Ads Linking Obama to Rev. Wright

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Romney, Super-Pac Reject Ads Linking Obama to Rev. Wright

Article excerpt

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Mitt Romney said Thursday that he rejected the proposal presented to a GOP super-PAC that intended to tie President Barack Obama to incendiary comments by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. -- a risky approach that Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, ruled out when he ran against Mr. Obama.

During an interview with the conservative website, where he made his first comments about a New York Times story about the ad proposal, Mr. Romney said he hoped that this campaign would focus on the economy and getting the American people back to work.

"I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they've described," Mr. Romney told Townhall.

The former Massachusetts governor then alleged that the Obama campaign has engaged in a campaign of "character assassination" against him, a reference to the Obama campaign's focus on his work at the private equity firm Bain Capital.

"I hope that isn't the course of this campaign," Mr. Romney said in the interview. "In regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they're thinking about. ... It's interesting that we're talking about some Republican PAC that wants to go after the president [on Wright]. I hope people also are looking at what he [Obama] is doing, and saying, 'Why is he running an attack campaign? Why isn't he talking about his record?' "

The New York Times reported Thursday that a group of Republican strategists, including Fred Davis, the ad man for Mr. McCain's 2008 presidential bid, have developed a plan to highlight Mr. Wright's highly controversial sermons on the issue of race. The ad campaign was proposed to an outside group funded by Joe Ricketts, a billionaire who founded the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.

The $10 million advertising campaign was intended to show, the strategists said in their proposal, "the influence of that misguided mentor and our president's formative years among left-wing intellectuals has brought our country to its knees." The 54-page proposal obtained by The New York Times, which is posted at the paper's website, suggested hiring an "extremely literate conservative African American" spokesman, who would make the case that Mr. Obama deceived the nation by running as a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln."

Mr. Obama's relationship to Mr. Wright became an enormous liability during his 2008 campaign after clips of some of the pastor's controversial sermons -- including portions in which he declared "God damn America" and asserted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that "America's chickens are coming home to roost" -- were widely circulated on television and the Internet.

Mr. Obama looked to Mr. Wright for spiritual guidance for two decades before severing his relationship with the pastor in the spring of 2008. …

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