DNC: GOP "Southern Strategy" Alive and Well Republicans Refuse to Take Down Racist Ads
Washington, DC- After promising the African American community that the Republican "Southern Strategy" had been put to rest Ken Mehlman and the Republican Party are up to their old divisive and backward tricks using racist innuendo to try to win elections.
"Unfortunately the GOP's Southern Strategy is alive and well," said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney. "It's disgraceful that Ken Mehlman had the nerve to stand in front of the African American community with a fake apology for the Southern Strategy, yet the RNC has once again resorted to the same despicable, racist tactics in the Tennessee senate race.
"To make matters worse, once they got caught, Mehlman and the RNC further misled Americans with false claims that the RNC had no ability to have the ad taken down, knowing full well that with one word from Mehlman it could have stopped immediately. Now we learn that Mehlman and the RNC misled us again when they said the ad was off the air. Mehlman's rhetoric sounds a lot like the rhetoric coming from Congressman Hastert and Reynolds who say they had no way to stop Congressman Foley from targeting children on Capitol Hill even after they were informed of his inappropriate behavior. What the Republicans don't seem to understand is that Americans want leaders who will take responsibility, and work to solve problems, not finger point and name call."
See below for a new document from DNC research:
IT'S SO HARD TO SAY YOU'RE SORRY
- AND MEAN IT
A DESPERATE GOP RETURNS TO THE SOUTHERN STRATEGY
The RNC is currently running an ad in Tennessee against Democratic candidate for Senate Harold Ford, who is African American. The ad features a white woman with bare shoulders winking at the camera and telling Ford to "call her." Despite experts concluding that the ad "makes the Willie Horton ad look like child's play" and that it plays on fears of interracial dating, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman has both defended the ad's content and said that he has no power to take it off the air. Yesterday, he announced that the ad had been taken down, but it was still playing in Nashville and Chattanooga. The evidence is clear the Republican Party is desperate, and has returned to its Southern Strategy.
MEHLMAN REFUSES TO CONDEMN AD WITH RACIST OVERTONES;
SAYS AD IS OFF THE AIR, BUT IT'S STILL RUNNING
RNC Still Running Ad With Racist Overtones, Despite Mehlman's Claims That it Was Off The Air. On CNN, Mehlman said, "The ad is down now." However, the Tennessean reported that "A negative campaign ad against Harold Ford Jr. that critics have denounced as having racist overtones will continue airing in the Chattanooga area, despite the head of the Republican National Committee's statement today that the ad was off the air." The ad aired Wednesday in the Nashville market and will continue to air in Chattanooga, because the station did not want to run the Republicans' replacement commercial "Shaky", saying that it raised some "'very serious moral concerns' among higher-ups at the station." [CNN, 10/25/06; Tennessean, 10/25/06, 10/26/06]
Mehlman Said He Would "Denounce" An Ad That Exploited Racism, Defended Ad Running Against Ford and Called it "Fair." In an interview on MSNBC, where he was asked about criticism that the Ford ad was racist, Mehlman said, "I don't believe that ad does that...I think that there is nothing more repugnant in our society than people who try to divide Americans along racial lines, and I would denounce any ad that I felt did. I happen not to believe that ad does... I showed it to a number of people when the complaints came out about it after it was put up, and African American folks, Hispanic folks and myself, we all looked at it. All of us, I think, are very sensitive to that, and we did not have that same reaction to it. So I just think there's a disagreement about it...I think it's a fair ad." [MSNBC, 10/24/06]
Experts, Republicans Strongly Disagree with Mehlman.
* Specialist in Political Advertising Said Ad Makes Willie Horton Ad "Look Like Child's Play." John Geer, a professor at Vanderbilt University and a specialist in political advertising, said that it "is playing to a lot of fears" and "frankly makes the Willie Horton ad look like child's play." [New York Times, 10/26/06]
* Washington Head of NAACP Said Ad Plays On Fears of Interracial Dating. Hilary Shelton, Washington director of the NAACP, said the ad plays off fears some people still have about interracial couples. "In a Southern state like Tennessee, some stereotypes still exist," he said. "There's very clearly some racial subtext in an ad like that." [CBS, 10/26/06]
* William Cohen Said Ad Was Overtly Racist. William Cohen, a Republican and former Defense Secretary, said, "I think the Republicans have to be careful also in terms of not engaging in conduct -- and I was watching the Tennessee race specifically. It reminded me of what happened in North Carolina with Harvey Gantt, a purely over-racist approach." [CNN, 10/25/06]
IT'S SO HARD TO SAY YOU'RE SORRY...AND MEAN IT
Mehlman Said that His Priorities as Chair Were Working On Racial Unity...Right After Blogs. Mehlman said, "when I became chairman of this party I set two very clear goals. One was to use technology to do a better job of reaching out to voters and spreading our message. And the other was to make sure that we once again became the party of Lincoln. I'm very proud of the first event I did as chairman was at Prince George's Community College where Michael Steele and I did an African American town hall. The second was at Howard University." [CNN, 10/25/06]
Mehlman Said the Republican Party Would Not Be Whole Until It Responded to the Cause of the African American Community. Mehlman said, "no matter how many elections Republicans win, no matter how many times we hold the White House, no matter how many seats in Congress, how many governor's mansions, how many state legislatures we win, the party of Lincoln will not be whole again and won't truly reflect the dream of African American political empowerment until we effectively and forthrightly respond to the cause of the African American community." [Mehlman Speech to the NAACP, 7/14/05]
MEHLMAN USED RACIALLY DIVISIVE TACTICS IN 2000 AND 2004
Ken Mehlman Was Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign Manager and Rove Protege. The AP reported, "Ken Mehlman, White House political director and a Rove protege, will be campaign manager." [AP, 5/16/03]
Columbus Dispatch Study Finds that Inner City Precincts in African American Areas Received Fewer Voting Machines. "A study by the Columbus Dispatch, in fact, found that inner-city precincts, heavily Black and heavily Democratic, actually did receive fewer voting machines than White, suburban, Republican areas of Franklin County." [Columbus Call and Post, 12/22/04]
After A Poll Worker Arrived Late and the Police Had to Be Called, One Woman Commented, "I Don't Think They Want Black People to Vote." School security officers and police were called to Livingston Elementary School on the South Side early in the afternoon. The head poll worker had been a half-hour late to open Precinct 4B in the school library, and things went downhill from there. Some voters in the predominantly Black neighborhood were turned away at 10 a.m. Trinity Bell, 19, left in frustration after a two-hour wait. "I don't think they want the Black people to vote." [Columbus Dispatch, 11/3/04]
Mehlman Was Regional Director for the Bush 2000 Campaign. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, "Ken Mehlman, who has been with Granger since she went to Congress in 1997, will join the Bush campaign in late June as a regional director." [Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 6/6/99]
Civil Rights Commission Found Florida's 2000 Election Unfairly Penalized Minority Voters. In Duval County, the rate of discarded ballots for Blacks was four times higher then white voters. Black voters had a 1 in 5 chance of their votes not counting, where as, white voters had a 1 in 20 chance of their votes being discarded. Statewide, this means that African Americans were ten times more likely to have their ballot rejected. Leon County established an "unauthorized" police checkpoint about 2 miles from the nearest polling station that stopped at least 150 cars. The report also documents countless reports of "hostile" poll workers who "wrongly demanded" multiple photo ids, "even though the state law requires one [photo id]." [Washington Post, 6/5/01, 5/31/01; Los Angeles Times, 6/5/01]
Black Voters Represented a Clear Majority of the Rejected Votes in Florida. The Commission found disturbing evidence of vote disparities among minority voters. Black voters cast a clear majority, 54 percent, of ALL 180,000 rejected votes; 83 of the top 100 precincts statewide with the highest number of disqualified votes were majority Black. Yet, African Americans accounted for only 11 percent of the statewide vote. According to exit polls, 90 percent of Florida's African Americans voted for the Democratic Party. [Washington Post, 6/5/01, 5/31/01; Los Angeles Times, 6/5/01]
2004: GOP USES RACIALLY DIVISIVE TACTICS
ACROSS THE NATION
MICHIGAN: Republican Lawmaker Says GOP Needs to "Suppress" the Detroit Voters. Michigan State Representative, John Pappageorge, told members of the Oakland County Republican party that the GOP would do poorly in this year's elections if it failed to "suppress the Detroit vote." Pappageorge's comments were a thinly veiled mandate to suppress African American voter turnout in a city where 83% of the population is Black and overwhelmingly votes Democratic. [Detroit Free Press, 7/16/04; AP, 7/21/04; Washington Post, 8/26/04]
KENTUCKY: Republicans Promised to Place Vote Challengers in African American Precincts. Kentucky's Jefferson County Republican Party vowed to place Republican vote challengers in predominantly African American precincts during the November 2004 elections, reiterating their 2003 attempt to suppress voter turnout. In 2003, county Republicans placed challengers at 18 polling places in predominantly Black districts. [AP, 7/30/04; Courier-Journal, 8/3/04]
PENNSYLVANIA: Republican Operatives Working To Re-Elect President Bush Submitted Last-Minute Requests To Suppress Philadelphia's Vote. Bush's Pennsylvania campaign staff filed the requests, using the names of two Republicans running for the U.S. Congress and seven Republican ward leaders. Of the 63 requests for changes, 53 are in political divisions where the population of white voters is less than 10 percent. Bob Lee, voter registration administrator for the City Commission, said the requests appear to be "discriminatory" and that "They're trying to suppress the vote." Race played a role in at least five of the requests, according to Matt Robb, the Republican leader of the 48th ward. Robb said he allowed his name to be used because those polling places are in neighborhoods he doesn't wish to visit. "It's predominantly, 100 percent Black," said Robb, who is white. "I'm just not going in there to get a knife in my back." [Philadelphia Daily News, 10/18/04]
NEVADA: RNC Funded Company Trashed Voter Registration Forms: "A news report during the 2004 election noted that, "'Voter's Outreach of America' aka 'America Votes' ripped up Democratic voter registrations in Nevada. According to the investigative report, "hundreds and perhaps thousands of individuals who thought they were registered to vote actually are not. The organization has reportedly left Nevada and gone to Oregon... Well, the company [Voter's Outreach for America, aka America Votes] has been largely, if not entirely funded by the Republican National Committee. We should also point out that similar complaints have been received in Reno, where the registrar there has asked the FBI to investigate. It's a complicated story and we'll have a lot more tonight and I think in the days ahead." [KLAS Las Vegas Channel 8, 4pm news, Oct. 12, 2004]