Race-based politics, dirty tricks back in the spotlight
If it's the week before a hotly contested election in North Carolina, race-based tactics must be rearing their ugly heads. First, it's the state Republican Party's effort to derail the presidential candidate they appear to fear most (Barack Obama) by running the absurd anti-Jeremiah Wright ad. Here's The Insider's Scott Mooneyham on this effort in one of his weekly "Capitol View" columns:
Let's suppose you are in the business of influencing elections, had limited cash available, and decided that you wanted to try to scuttle someone's chances at an important office.
Would you empty your bank account, mounting a television ad campaign, six months before an election, or two weeks before voters went to the polls?
The state Republican Party is claiming that it has decided to do so six months out, that the targets of an ad featuring those now infamous remarks by Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, are Democratic gubernatorial candidates Beverly Perdue and Richard Moore.
A few phrases come to mind. The one that's fit for print: horse feathers."
He goes on to quote Carter Wrenn (who ought to know) for confirmation:
To believe [Republican Party Chair Linda] Daves, that this is ad about with whom Perdue and Moore choose to associate and endorse, you'd have to think that the ad was meant for general election voters in November.
I'm more inclined to believe Jesse Helms' longtime political consultant, Carter Wrenn, who knows a thing or two about tricky political ads.
'I think the ad was meant to hurt Obama, primarily,' Wrenn told WRAL-TV in Raleigh. 'If you don't want to influence the primary, why now?'"
Meanwhile, someone else is apparently running "robocalls" in African-American neighborhoods that appear to be designed to confuse voters and depress turnout. Here's an excerpt from a press release sent out yesterday by Democracy-NC's Bob Hall:
Hall said his group has also received reports of automated or 'robo' telephone calls to black neighborhoods that tell people that they need to fill out a registration form being mailed to them before they can vote. The calls are allegedly from Lamont Williams,' who sounds like he wants to help people 'make your voice heard.' But he instructs them to fill out, date, and return a registration application being mailed to them, and 'then you will be able to vote.'
The deadline for mail-in voter registration has already passed, and the calls seem to be going to black voters who are already registered.
Hear the call at: http://www.democracy-nc.org/nc/spprncall.wav
'This is another in a long line of deceptive practices used in North Carolina and elsewhere that particularly target African-American voters,' Hall said. 'In our view, this phone message plainly violates North Carolina law. We ask the Attorney General, State Bureau of Investigation, and the State Board of Elections to investigate, expose, and prosecute the sponsors of these calls.'"
Finally, there's the ongoing battle between Richard Moore and Beverly Perdue over who has the most objectionable record on race in which Moore has launched a new series of mudslinging ads. To quote Bob Hall again:
We deplore the use of ads by the North Carolina Republican Party and by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Moore which use racially charged images to manipulate voters. The consultants for these groups may wish to make money with this kind of deception, but the responsible clients and the broadcasters should recognize the damage they do and just say NO.”