So far, contenders in the GOP race for president have hesitated to race bait–but a GOP super PAC is having no more Mr. Nice Guy. The New York Times reported this week that the PAC has submitted a proposal to release incendiary ads which propose to link President Obama's political ideology to the controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright.
“Our plan is to do exactly what John McCain would not let us do: Show the world how Barack Obama’s opinions of America and the world were formed,” the proposal says. “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 below MSNBC video highlights the "climate of racism" that the Democrats are claiming the GOP are hoping to achieve with the proposal, backed by conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs and the founder of TD Ameritrade.
Ricketts is not against paying to influence elections–he recently dropped 200,000 on the Nebraska Republican Senate Primary. Although declaring himself an "independent" he leans heavily to conservative candidates and causes. TPM adds in its article "Who is Joe Ricketts?"
A registered independent, Ricketts personally gave $2,500 to both Mitt Romney and Ron Paul in December. In 2000, he was elected to the board of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). In the video on his website, Ricketts says that he is an independent “because I don’t really care which party is going to be in favor or which party is going to be in control, but I do care about what they do in order to make our country prosper.”
“If we want the next generation to have the same type of opportunity I had, if we’re
going to have them have the same type of opportunities we’ve had, that previous generations have had, we need to become involved,” he says. “And that’s why I’m becoming involved right now.”
Politics runs in the Ricketts family. Pete Ricketts, a son, was the Republican nominee for Senate in Nebraska in 2006. He lost to Democrat Ben Nelson, but not before pouring $12 million of his own money into the race, according to the Associated Press (via Nexis). Pete Ricketts is now on TD Ameritrade’s board, while also serving on various other boards including those of the Chicago Cubs, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and AEI.
Meanwhile, Laura Ricketts, a daughter, is a major fundraiser for Obama. Earlier this week, Open Secrets included her on a list of 27 prominent LGBT Obama bundlers, and reported that she had raised at least $500,000 for the president’s reelection. In the wake of the attention on her father Thursday, Laura Ricketts released a statement saying that her family’s “love of country was instilled in us by my father.”
Lawrence O'Donnell reported the view that many Democrats may hold that the real aim is "to get America to hate Barack Obama."
The leaking of the proposal has caused some embarrassment and quick backtracking from its backers. CNN reports that Brian Baker, head of the GOP super PAC, claims that Ricketts won't approve it because "it "reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects."
The statement is contrary to the support Ricketts was prepared to lend to the proposal in the first place.
"Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a president this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally," Baker said in a written statement.
If the super PAC, Ending Spending Action Fund, had taken up the plan, it would have attempted to link the president with Wright's philosophy, the Times reported.
Titled "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good," the ad campaign was to play off racial undertones and called for what the proposal described as an "extremely literate conservative African-American" as its spokesman, according to the Times.
Nancy Pelosi had only one comment on the proposal which also jabbed the Cubs' inability to win games:
"I find it interesting that this is all going to be funded by the owner of the Chicago Cubs. I hope they're as successful with this campaign as the Cubs are out on the ball field."