Elections 2012: Romney Refuses Plan to Use Rev. Wright In Anti-Obama Ad Campaign

Both Mitt Romney and billionaire Joe Ricketts hastily repudiated a proposed $10 million SuperPAC anti-Obama ad campaign, using images of the Obamas’ onetime pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday said that he disapproves of a Republican super PAC's plan to link President Barack Obama to Rev. Jeremiah Wright's inflammatory comments, a tactic that had been used by some in 2008, but rejected by then-presidential candidate John McCain. Photo: Austen Hufford/Flickr

“I want to make it very clear: I repudiate that effort,” Romney told reporters in Florida. “I think it’s the wrong course for a PAC or a campaign.”

The $10 million plan, reported by The New York Times, was hatched by a group of conservative advisers to the Ending Spending Action Fund, a super PAC formed by Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade, according to Boston.com.

“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” the proposal read.

President Obama has said that Wright was once a spiritual mentor who helped him find Jesus but that he does not subscribe to the pastor’s “black liberation theology.”

The Ending Spending plan would have tied Barack Obama to some of Wright’s most inflammatoryremarks, such as when he said after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

“I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they’ve described,” Romney said. ”I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity, particularly for those in the middle class of America.”

According to The Huff Post, asked about comments he gave to conservative commentator Sean Hannity earlier this year, Romney responded, “I stand by what I said, whatever it was.”

In February Romney referred to the controversial pastor in the interview with Sean Hannity, saying “I’m not sure which is worse: him listening to Reverend Wright or him saying that we must be a less Christian nation.”

Brian Baker, president of the Ending Spending Action Fund, said Joe Ricketts is an independent who is focused on fiscal policy to help defeat President Obama, writes ABC News.

“Not only was this plan merely a proposal – one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors – but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take,” according to the statement released by Baker.

“Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a president this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally.”

The Obama campaign countered by saying Romney’s rejection of Ricketts’ strategy was not forceful enough.

“This morning’s story revealed the appalling lengths to which Republican operatives and super PACs apparently are willing to go to tear down the president and elect Mitt Romney,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement.

“The blueprint for a hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination speaks for itself. It also reflects how far the party has drifted in four short years since John McCain rejected these very tactics. Once again, Governor Romney has fallen short of the standard that John McCain set, reacting tepidly in a moment that required moral leadership in standing up to the very extreme wing of his own party,” the statement said.

However, Mitt Romney mentioned that if anyone is guilty of launching personal attacks, it is the Obama campaign, which he accused of “character assassination” against him.

“I think what we’ve seen so far from the Obama campaign is a campaign of character assassination,” he added. “I hope that isn’t the course of this campaign. So in regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they’re thinking about,” Romney said.

“It’s interesting that we’re talking about some Republican PAC that wants to go after the president [on Wright]; I hope people also are looking at what he’sdoing, and saying, ‘Why is he running an attack campaign?  Why isn’t he talking about his record?’” he said.

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