NY Times Caucus Blog: The Ad Campaign: Unauthorized Ad Reminds Voters About a Certain Pastor

NY Times Caucus Blog

The Ad Campaign: Unauthorized Ad Reminds Voters About a Certain Pastor

PRODUCER Not provided.

THE SCRIPT A narrator says: “If you think you could ever vote for Barack Obama, consider this — Obama chose as his spiritual leader, this man.” The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.: “Not God bless America, God damn America.” Narrator: “He also picked Wright to baptize his children.” Mr. Wright: “The U.S. of K.K.K.A.” Narrator: “Barack Obama, he chose as his pastor a man who blamed the U.S. for the 9/11 attacks. Does that sound like someone who should be president?” Mr. Wright: “God damn America.”

ON THE SCREEN The advertisement opens with a profile photograph of Senator Obama followed by one of Mr. Wright. Then the advertisement cuts to the sermon Mr. Wright gave in which he declared, “God damn America.” More images juxtaposing Mr. Obama and Mr. Wright lead into a clip of a second fiery sermon by the preacher. The advertisement ends with a shot of Mr. Obama next to the words, “Judgment to Lead? No.”

ACCURACY The advertisement includes short excerpts of Mr. Wright’s most incendiary remarks and accurately notes that he was Mr. Obama’s pastor and the man who baptized his children. After Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Wright delivered a sermon suggesting that the terrorist attacks were a consequence of American foreign policy. But there is no evidence that Mr. Obama was present for this or the other sermons cited. And it omits the fact that Mr. Obama began distancing himself from Mr. Wright months ago after some of the preacher’s controversial remarks surfaced. Mr. Obama delivered a speech in late April denouncing some of Mr. Wright’s statements as “divisive and destructive.” He withdrew his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where Mr. Wright served as pastor for more than three decades.

SCORECARD This last-minute effort by the Republican Party to bring up the Wright issue is aimed at the crucial white voters Mr. Obama must court to win an important state like Pennsylvania. Though some voters may be aware that Mr. Obama severed ties with Mr. Wright during the primaries, the spot’s aim is to keep the controversy front and center and to plant doubts in the minds of voters considering backing Mr. Obama. Mr. McCain once indicated he would avoid using his opponent’s ties to Mr. Wright as a line of attack but since has been less rigid on the point. On Sunday, Charlie Black, an adviser to Mr. McCain, confirmed that the campaign did not authorize the advertisement and wished that the party had not made it.

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