By JESS MANCINI
PARKERSBURG - A U.S. Senate campaign ad by the Republican Party is being panned as besmirching the image of West Virginians.
Gov. Joe Manchin, the target of the ad, said it was offensive and Republican John Raese's campaign said the candidate had nothing to do with it.
"We didn't have any idea it was coming," said Kevin McLaughlin, a Raese campaign spokesman.
Sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and airing steadily since Tuesday, the advertisement shows three guys with frayed caps and flannel shirts sitting at a diner talking about how Manchin should stay here rather than go to the U.S. Senate where he will support President Obama.
Sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and airing since Tuesday, the advertisement shows three guys sitting at a diner talking about how Gov. Joe Manchin should stay here rather than go to the U.S. Senate where he will support President Obama.
Raese, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll this week, leads Manchin by 6 points in a race first thought unwinnable by any Republican in West Virginia, but now appears losable by the popular governor.
Phone and email messages left Thursday night for the senatorial committee for comment about whether the ad will be pulled were not immediately returned.
Associated Press is quoting a party official not directly involved with the ad saying it was pulled from YouTube and will be pulled elsewhere.
Senate Campaign Heats Up
Television ad shows three men dressed in ball caps and flannel shirts saying Gov. Joe Manchin needs to stay in West Virginia.
Manchin is running against the Republican John Raese for the U.S. Senate.
Raese's campaign said it was not involved with the ad.
The ad was still running Thursday night, said Lara Ramsburg, a spokesman for the Manchin campaign.
"To our knowledge it's still running and they still haven't apologized," she said.
Politico.com was the first to report the casting call and said clothing should include trucker or John Deere caps, "not brand new, preferably beat up," jeans with down filled vests and a Dickie's type jacket with a T-shirt underneath.
"We are going for a 'hicky' blue collar look," the call said. "These characters are from West Virginia so think coal miner/trucker looks."
The senatorial committee released a Sept. 27 email saying its production firm asked the casting company "for someone to represent the middle of the country Ohio, Pittsburgh, West Virginia area."
"No one at the NRSC, or associated with the NRSC, had anything to do with the language used in this casting call," said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the senatorial committee, told Associated Press.
McLaughlin was on the phone with the senatorial committee late Thursday afternoon.
"The ad is ridiculous and I am happy to say that no one with the Raese campaign had anything to do with it," he said.
"But this race isn't about TV ads, it's about the future of West Virginia. Joe Manchin is desperate to avoid talking about the issues because he knows when we do that West Virginians overwhelmingly don't want him in Washington rubber stamping President Obama's radical agenda," he said.
Manchin also released a statement.
"John Raese and his special interest friends have insulted the people of West Virginia and need to immediately apologize. Not only have they been spending millions to try and buy this election with lies and distortions, we can now see once and for all what he and his friends really think of West Virginia and our people," Manchin said.
"It's offensive and it only proves that John Raese has spent too much time in the state of Florida, living in his Palm Beach mansion, and doesn't know, understand or respect the great people of this state and what we stand for."
The West Virginia Democratic Party and the state Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed Manchin, on Thursday asked that apologies be made and the ad pulled.
"It's no wonder that a candidate who lives in a Florida mansion and his allies who film ads in a Philadelphia diner would insult West Virginia working families like this," state Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio said.