The Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN), a conservative independent group, is running new anti-Obama TV ads in battleground states that feature the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. “Obama chose as his pastor a man who has blamed America for the 9/11 attacks,” says the narrator, as an image of Wright (with the words “God Damn America”) flash on the screen.
The JCN is headed by Gary Marx, who worked for Mitt Romney’s campaign this year and who served as coalitions organizer for the Bush-Cheney campaign four years ago. As an “independent” group, the JCN doesn’t have to reveal its donors.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reverend Wright soon appear in more ads from the GOP and McCain’s surrogates, especially if Obama’s momentum in the polls isn’t soon reversed.
Over the summer I spoke with Gary Pearce, a Democratic consultant in North Carolina, where Obama and McCain are running neck and neck. “It’s so deep in the Republican DNA in North Carolina,” he said when I asked him if he though that race would become an issue during the campaign. “Race is the deepest question in Southern politics, it’s inescapable and it’s worked repeatedly against black and white politicians.”
Pearce worked for former Governor Jim Hunt, who lost a senate race in 1984 to incumbent Jessie Helms, in good part due to the issue of a national holiday for Martin Luther King. Six years later, the moderate African-American mayor of Charlotte, Harvey Gantt, lost to Helms in a campaign also marked by not-so-subtle racial tactics. (Charlie Black, one of McCain’s senior advisors, worked for Helms during both of those campaigns.)
“If the Republicans get worried, we’ll see more of it,” Pearce said about the potential use of race in the current campaign.
They’re worried now. Stay tuned.