Another Republican racist dirty campaign trick

By TOM HUMPHREY

Democrats say that Tennessee Republicans injected racism into a fund-raising appeal by using "code words" and a photograph of Democratic Senate nominee Harold Ford Jr. "obviously altered" to make his complexion darker.


State Republican Chairman Bob Davis, who signed the letter deemed offensive by Democrats, says the charge is "a lot of baloney" and the state GOP has launched an active "outreach" program toward minority voters under his leadership.

Ford himself, meanwhile, has questioned whether a Republican National Committee television ad has racial overtones because it depicts a "dark, shadowy figure" resembling the congressman walking toward the camera through an alley.

"There’s a really nasty one running right now that I think injects a little race in this thing, the way they have me pictured," Ford told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

State Democratic Chairman Bob Tuke said the RNC ad is "almost Willie Horton" _ a reference to an ad depicting a black criminal used by Republicans against Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis in 1988.

"It has a black man walking toward you in an alley. It suggests danger from a black man who looks like Harold Ford," Tuke said.

RNC spokesman Danny Diaz called the contentions "outlandish."

The state GOP fund-raising letter has two photos of Ford, who would become the first black senator elected from the South if he defeats Republican Bob Corker on Nov. 7.

The letter was obtained by the Knoxville News Sentinel from a Republican who received the solicitation.

"They have darkened Harold Ford’s image to make a racist statement," Tuke said after reviewing the mailing. "It’s obviously altered."

Tuke and Jerry Maynard, who is black and the deputy director of the state Democratic Party, said the text of Davis’ letter also contains "code word" references to race.

As examples, they cited phrases in the following two sentences in the letter referring to Ford:

"He passes himself off as someone with a deep connection to the Volunteer State, but he gets obscene amounts of liberal money from out-of-state."

"Harold Ford is a smooth operator, cunning and disguising his real record, opportunistic as can be, hypocritical as they come and a true danger to Tennessee."

Blacks acting as if they are white may be said to be passing themselves off, Tuke said. "Smooth operator" is the title of a well-known song performed by Sade that refers to a "black smooth operator," he said.

In the text of the letter, both the phrases "passes himself off" and "smooth operator" are in bold type and underlined.

The letter also refers to Ford and former President Bill Clinton as "cut from the same camouflage cloth" in bold type.

"They ought to be ashamed of themselves," said Tuke. "It’s disgusting and sad that in 2006 a supposedly mainstream political party would be mailing out trash like this."

Davis and Chris Devaney, executive director of the state GOP, said the pictures in the mailing were not darkened and the phrases quoted are not "code words."

"That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of," said Davis. "They (Democrats) don’t want to talk about issues. They’re trying to bring race into it."

(Contact Tom Humphrey of The Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee at www.knoxnews.com.)

12 Responses to "Another Republican racist dirty campaign trick"

  1. TruePatriotWarrior  October 7, 2006 at 2:35 am

    We only hope that proud Tennesseans will vote against their own self-interest like most Southerners are wont to do. Perish the thought of considering issues like health-care, Social Security, etc. Stick to issues, instead, which keep the South backwards instead of progressive.

  2. Shag  October 7, 2006 at 4:11 am

    I am so glad this country is becoming a melting pot. I hope within this century, we’ll see good ol’ boys continue to fall by the wayside.

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  4. Ngchen  October 6, 2006 at 3:37 pm
  5. John Hanks  October 6, 2006 at 6:04 pm
  6. ab  October 6, 2006 at 8:59 pm
  7. TruePatriotWarrior  October 7, 2006 at 2:35 am
  8. Shag  October 7, 2006 at 4:11 am
  9. topicstarter  October 13, 2006 at 5:57 pm
  10. Ngchen  October 6, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    I’m from Tennessee, and I have to say that I don’t see anything racist the purported fundraising letter says that’s racist, reading solely the words. I have not yet checked out the image in question. That said, based on Harold Ford’s efforts to almost say and do anything to get elected (outrepublican the republicans) and Bob Corker’s lackluster campaign, I can only say I’m disappointed with both candidates this year. The letter’s a Republican fundraiser, so of course one can expect attacks on Ford, just not racist ones.

  11. John Hanks  October 6, 2006 at 6:04 pm

    Tennessee breeds suckers like an outhouse breeds flies.

  12. ab  October 6, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    What an outlandish boneheaded comment. Like its any different where ever you come from Hanks. Of course you are so stupid you probably think none of us Tennesseans even have shoes. The truth is we are having a tough time with this election. On one hand a republican millionaire bushite and on the other a career politician from a family with a history of criminal behavior. Like many Americans we only want someone truly interested in the people and not personal power and wealth. It seems we have little choice this time around.

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