Initial complaints from Democrats slammed Romney for taking out of context something that then-candidate Barack Obama said in 2008. But on Wednesday, Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who served on the presidential campaigns of former vice president Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry, told The Hill that the ad also is “clearly an attempt to bring back Rev. Jeremiah Wright and race."
"It appears to be a congregation of an African-American people," Devine said, describing some of the ad’s imagery of what appears to be a Black church congretation. "In the first scene there are no white people at all, in the second there is all African-Americans except possibly one person, who you can't really tell."
He added that, "as someone who does this for a living, there is absolutely no way that's not intentional. There is no other rational explanation for that scene other than to suggest a racial reference, and most likely invoke Jeremiah Wright."
Wright, who was Obama’s pastor at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, sparked controversy during the 2008 campaign when he suggested that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were proof of “America’s chickens coming home to roost.”
Devine also speculates that the ad, which is the Romney campaign’s first to air on television, includes “racial imagery” to appeal to white voters in South Carolina, where he trails former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 31 percent to 16 percent, according to a recent survey conducted by The Polling Company.
“I would speculate that Gov. Romney and his campaign are concerned that they’re losing South Carolina so badly right now they’re using every tool in the toolbox — including the most pernicious tool in American politics, and that’s race and racial imagery,” Devine said.
The ad drew fire from Democrats earlier this week, when the Democratic National Committee charged that it distorts a statement Obama made during the campaign by attributing a statement to him when he was actually quoting someone from Sen. John McCain’s campaign.
Romney defended the ad to reporters on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing the old "what's sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander" adage.
"[Obama] spoke about the economy being a huge burden for John McCain. This ad points out, guess what, it’s now your turn. The same lines you used on John McCain are now going to be used on you, which is that this economy is going to be your albatross," Romney said.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Daniel Acker, Pool, File)