Wall Street Journal:TV Ad Stirs Controversy in Minnesota House Race

Wall Street Journal

TV Ad Stirs Controversy in Minnesota House Race

Democratic party officials are alleging that a Republican television ad intentionally darkens the skin tone of Indian-American Democratic candidate Ashwin Madia in a closely contested Minnesota congressional race.

The ad was produced by the National Republican Congressional Committee in support of Republican candidate Erik Paulsen, who is running against Madia for an open seat in the state’s third district.

In an election year when racial issues have reverberated nationally, critics of the ad say it crosses the line between hardball campaigning and something with a more insidious intent.

While the Madia campaign is carefully avoiding making charges that race is involved, Minnesota Democratic officials and a veteran’s group charge that the ad darkens Madia’s pigmentation in three photos.

“It might be possible to dismiss these actions as a customary, yet unfortunate aspect of negative advertising,” said Eric S. Fought, associate communications director of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party. But he said that he believed viewers would “know what Paulsen and his allies intended with darkening the images of Madia.” The Paulson campaign didn’t return calls.

Press secretary Ken Spain of the NRCC, which makes ads and buys time for a number of Republican congressional candidates, said the photos were not darkened at all, much less intentionally. ”These assertions are profoundly ridiculous and false,” he said

The NRCC ad plays off of one of Madia’s own ads, in which the Democratic candidate, a lawyer and former Marine who served in Iraq, runs through his community in a “Marines” sweatshirt. In the NRCC’s version, a narrator suggests Madia is “running to raise taxes.” Viewers see what Democratic party officials say appears to be darkened footage of the candidate jogging as well as the photos in question.

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