Thursday, October 19, 2006
Aim Is To Win Minority Voters, But Democrats Cry Foul
BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
October 17, 2006
A little-known Republican group that claims to have swayed the 2004 presidential election with provocative radio advertising aimed at black and Hispanic audiences is spending nearly $1 million this year to boost the GOP's chances of holding on to a majority in Congress.
The group, America's Pac, began running ads last month in more than two dozen congressional districts.The campaign discusses issues ranging from warrantless wiretapping to school choice, but the most inflammatory spots pertain to abortion.
"Black babies are terminated at triple the rate of white babies," a female announcer in one of the ads says, as rain, thunder, and a crying infant are heard in the background. "The Democratic Party supports these abortion laws that are decimating our people, but the individual's right to life is protected in the Republican platform. Democrats say they want our vote.Why don't they want our lives?"
Another ad features a dialogue between two men.
"If you make a little mistake with one of your ‘hos,' you'll want to dispose of that problem tout suite, no questions asked," one of the men says.
"That's too cold. I don't snuff my own seed," the other replies.
"Maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican," the first man says.
Another spot attempts to link Democrats to a white supremacist who served as a Republican in the Louisiana Legislature, David Duke.The ad makes reference to Duke's trip to Syria last year, where he spoke at an anti-war rally.
"I can understand why a Ku Klux Klan cracker like David Duke makes nice with the terrorists,"a male voice in the ad says. "What I want to know is why so many of the Democrat politicians I helped elect are on the same side of the Iraq war as David Duke."
In one of the communities where the ads are running, South Bend, Ind.,some blacks were outraged.
"They're awful.They're repulsive," a Democratic activist and community leader in South Bend, Gladys Muhammad, said. "When they say Democrats don't like black babies, that's damn fools.They're very insensitive."
"This is so dirty, but it works," a sociology professor at Indiana University, Johnnie Griffin, said. "These are race ads. It's incredible."
While Ms. Griffin said she felt insulted by the ads, she also said a student in her class reported that a relative was thinking of switching to the Republican Party because of them. "Black people are more conservative than anybody thinks. We do have strong family values that people don't seem to stress as much," the professor said.
Ms. Griffin said a community meeting is planned for Friday to discuss the ad campaign. The key financial backer of America's Pac is J. Patrick Rooney, 78, of Indianapolis. Mr. Rooney, a strong proponent of school choice scholarship programs, retired in 1996 as chairman of Golden Rule Insurance. The company was sold to larger insurer, United-Health Group, in 2003 for a reported $893 million.
According to a report filed with the Internal Revenue Service, a company reportedly tied to Mr. Rooney, Woodland Group LLC, gave $900,000 to America's PAC earlier this year. Other donors chipped in about $32,000.
Mr. Rooney declined to be interviewed yesterday. The group referred calls from The New York Sun to a conservative, African-American talk show host who voiced some of the ads, Herman Cain.
"The main thing that America's Pac is up to is it basically is challenging the thesis or the belief on the part of the Republican Party that they cannot attract the black vote," Mr. Cain said. He said similar advertisements run in 2004 helped boost President Bush's share of the black vote in Ohio to 16%, from 9% in 2000.
"We don't believe that was an accident," Mr. Cain said. The IRS filing indicates that the ads are running this year in 10 battleground states, including Ohio, New Mexico, and Nevada.
Mr. Cain, who once managed the Godfather's Pizza chain and ran unsuccessfully for the Senate from Georgia in 2004, said he was not troubled that Mr. Rooney, who is white, is funding ads using black voices who claim to speak on behalf of the black community."You don't have a lot of black billionaires who would want to fund something like this," he said.
America's Pac is the brainchild of a Kansas-based Republican consultant, Richard Nadler.He said Sunday that he is no longer affiliated with the group.
"Mr. Nadler is the genius.We basically follow his game plan," the group's new chief, Thomas Donelson of Marion, Iowa, said. In 2000, Mr. Nadler came under fire for a school choice-related ad in which parents said their son's violenceridden public school "was a bit more diversity than he could handle." Mr. Bush's campaign denounced the ad as "inappropriate," and the Republican National Committee called it "racist or race-baiting in intent."
A Republican Party spokeswoman, Tara Wall, disputed Mr. Cain's claim that the party has not tried to enlist African-Americans. "Our outreach efforts have been and are a long-term effort,"she said."We've spent millions on black outreach alone this cycle."
A New York investment banker who gave $10,000 to America's Pac last month, Peter Flanigan, told the Sun that he found the language in some of the abortion-related ads "a little strong."
"If it were me, I wouldn't have put the abortion one in those words," Mr. Flanigan said, before adding, "It's not as if it's totally apart from fact."
Asked why he supports the group, Mr. Flanigan said, "I think it's unfortunate that some 90% of African Americans vote Democratic … Rooney has had some success in moving African-American votes."
Another ad in this year's campaign notes that Democratic presidents oversaw wiretapping and that the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the targets. "Unlike the Al Qaeda butchers Bush is wiretapping, Martin was fighting to promote voting rights. He wasn't plotting mass murder," the ad says.
"Republicans respect the Latino soldier," one of the Spanish-language spots declares. "After all, it was our own General Ricardo Sanchez who commanded the American troops in Iraq. Enough with these Democrats."
Many of the ads with conservative social themes are sandwiched between hip-hop songs that convey blunt sexual messages. A spokesman for America's Pac, John Altevogt, said no stations have refused the ads, but a few asked for minor edits, such as the removal of the word "cracker" from the David Duke spot.