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GOP pulls notorious Playboy ad on Ford

Tennessee- The Republican National Committee said Wednesday it was taking off the air an attack ad that critics said was a racial slur against Democratic Tennessee Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr., one day after the party’s chairman said he saw nothing wrong with it.

The ad – in which a young, white actress talks about meeting Ford, a 36-year-old bachelor who is black, “at the Playboy party” and invites him to “call me” – was denounced as a race-baiting tactic by the Ford campaign, the NAACP and Republican former Sen. Bill Cohen.

Bob Corker, Ford’s Republican opponent for the seat being vacated by Senate Republican leader Bill Frist, also called it “tacky” and asked that it be pulled.

Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the RNC, insisted that the ad, which RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman defended Tuesday in an interview on MSNBC-TV, wasn’t being “pulled.” He said the decision had nothing to do with the controversy; instead, the ad had simply “run its course.”

Officially, the ad was commissioned and paid for by the RNC’s independent expenditure unit, which isn’t allowed to coordinate or communicate with the national party or its candidates. That became a point of contention as Republicans fought among themselves over who was responsible for the spot.

Even though it included a disclaimer that said “the Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising,” Mehlman maintained Tuesday that the RNC couldn’t do anything about it. But Ford, a five-term member of the House, told MSNBC, “I do know that if my opponent wanted this ad pulled down, he could get it pulled down.”

Corker, the former mayor of Chattanooga, said in a statement Wednesday that he had called for its removal less than an hour after first seeing it last week. “The ad is tacky, over the top and does not reflect the kind of campaign that we are running,” he said. “Tennesseans deserve better and we are grateful the ad is no longer airing.”

In its place is a new spot called “Shaky,” which started airing Sunday in Knoxville but has expanded statewide. It alleges that Ford “took cash from Hollywood’s top X-rated porn moguls” and that he “wants to give the abortion pill to our schoolchildren.”

It includes the same disclaimer saying the RNC is responsible for its content.

Tennessee [AP]- The Playmate saying “Harold, call me,” has hung up the phone.

A controversial ad featuring a scantily clad blonde woman telling Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Harold Ford Jr. to call her was “rotated out” Wednesday.

The Republican National Committee ad has drawn national attention and has been criticized for playing a “race card” because it depicted the supposed Playmate, a white woman, saying that she met Ford, who is black, at a Playboy party.

She ends the ad by winking at the camera and saying, “Harold, call me.”

Danny Diaz, spokesman for the Republican National Committee (RNC), said the ad has “run its course” and has now been “rotated out” and replaced by another ad.

Last Friday, the day the ad started airing, the Corker campaign called on the Republican National Committee to take the ad off of the air, calling it “tacky” and “over the top.”

Wednesday, Republican Bob Corker’s campaign spokesman Todd Womack “expressed gratification” about the ad being pulled, saying it “does not reflect the kind of campaign that we are running.”

“Tennesseans deserve better and we are grateful the ad is no longer airing,” said Todd Womack, a spokesman for the Corker campaign, in a statement.

When asked whether he thought the ad was racist, Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said he is “extraordinarily sensitive” to racism, but he doesn’t think it was racist.

“At the same time, there are good people on both sides who believe otherwise,” Mehlman told Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s Situation Room. “I respect where they are coming from. I hope they do the same where I’m coming from.”

Tom Lee, a senior consultant for the Ford campaign, said the Playboy ad was “false,” “malicious,” and “out of bounds” and the campaign is “glad it’s off the air.”

The Playmate ad started running Friday. In its place, Diaz said the RNC would substitute an ad called “Shaky,” which has been running in Knoxville since Sunday and has been criticized by the Ford campaign for piling “lies upon lies.”

“If it’s possible, it’s worse,” Lee said of the new RNC ad.

In the new ad airing, Lee specifically took issue with claims that Ford had supported gay marriage, saying the Memphis Congressman has voted twice for constitutional bans on gay marriage. Lee also called a claim that Ford voted to give the “morning after pill” to schoolchildren a “preposterous lie.”

The RNC’s Diaz says the ad is “100 percent” factual.


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