Anti-Harold Ford Ad Draws Racism Charges
This Republican Party ad, which features a white woman inviting Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.), who is black, to “call me,” is so loaded with racist overtones that even Ford’s opponent is distancing himself.
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WASHINGTON — A new Republican Party television ad featuring a scantily clad white woman winking and inviting a black candidate to “call me” is drawing charges of race-baiting, with critics saying it contradicts a landmark GOP statement last year that the party was wrong in past decades to use racial appeals to win support from white voters.
Critics said the ad, which is funded by the Republican National Committee and has aired since Friday, plays on fears of interracial relationships to scare some white voters in rural Tennessee to oppose Democratic Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. Ford is locked in a tight race, hoping to become the first African American senator since Reconstruction to represent a state in the former Confederacy.
“It is a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African American men and white women,” said Hilary Shelton, head of the Washington office of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, the country’s oldest civil rights organization.
A former Republican senator, William S. Cohen of Maine, was more blunt. Cohen, who was also Defense secretary under President Clinton, said on CNN that the ad was “a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment.”
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