April 24, 2008
(AP) North Carolina Republican leaders are standing by a TV ad critical of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama despite dissension in their own ranks and one station's refusal to air it.
Republican National Committee member Linda Shaw said Thursday she was shocked that her colleagues decided to produce and air the ad, which shows Obama with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and a clip of Wright's anti-U.S. comments.
"I do not support it," Shaw said. "I had nothing to do with it and I'm very disappointed," said Shaw.
Shaw, a longtime party leader, said she repeatedly urged state party chairwoman Linda Daves to withdraw the spot.
John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, asked party officials to not run the ad on Wednesday and again Thursday.
"I cannot dictate to the North Carolina Republican Party what their message is, but I condemn it and I can appeal to the overwhelming majority of Republicans in the state of North Carolina," McCain said while campaigning in New Orleans.
State GOP spokesman Brent Woodcox said officials still planned to air the ad Monday, beginning with the evening newscasts. He said the party had not completed the details on the size of the ad buy.
Despite the ad's focus on Obama, Woodcox has said it is targeted at Democratic gubernatorial candidates Richard Moore and Bev Perdue; both have endorsed Obama, an Illinois senator. The ad was posted online Wednesday.
WRAL-TV in Raleigh and WSOC-TV in Charlotte have declined to run the spot, Woodcox and station officials said.
Jim Hefner, vice president and general manager at WRAL, said the station had determined the ad was "inflammatory" and decided not to run without knowing that McCain and national Republicans had objected to it.
Democratic party officials have criticized the ad. On Thursday, state Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Meek urged Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole to use her power to keep it off the air.
"As the highest-ranking Republican in the state, you have both the ability and responsibility to erase this stain on our state," Meek said in a letter to Dole. "Your silence tells North Carolinians that you will also sanction similar gutter tactics in your own campaign."
Dole said in an interview that she didn't want to get involved.
"I am concentrating on getting my work done here in the Senate, and I'm just not going to get into refereeing a third-party political ad that has nothing to do with my race," she said.
Obama's campaign questioned McCain's efforts to get the ad off the air.
"The fact that Senator McCain can't get his own party to take down this misleading, personal attack ad raises serious questions about his promise to the American people that he will run a civil, respectful campaign," said Obama campaign spokesman Hari Sevugan.
North Carolina holds its presidential primary May 6, with 115 delegates at stake. Polls give Obama the edge over Hillary Rodham Clinton.