'Hicky' ad gains national attention, still angers critics

The National Republican Senatorial Committee "hicky" television ad backing John Raese in his U.S. Senate race against Gov. Joe Manchin is still stirring controversy.In the ad, two men dressed in flannel shirts and wearing ball caps talks to a third man at a dining counter, warning him that if Manchin wins, "'Washington Joe' does whatever Obama wants ...yeah, well, we'd better keep Joe Manchin right here in West Virginia ... away from Washington."Critics believe the ad, which has attracted national attention, makes West Virginians look like stupid hicks.On Wednesday, Raese supporters promised to remove the ad. It was taken off YouTube on Thursday, but continued running repeatedly on West Virginia television stations through Friday evening.Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said on Sunday, "I saw it several times on Friday. My understanding was that they would pull the ad by either Wednesday evening or Thursday morning."When I saw it on Friday, it was about 48 hours after they said they would pull the ad. I think its language hurts West Virginia. We have worked very hard to overcome the stereotype people outside our state seem to have," Roberts said.Kevin McLaughlin, a Raese campaign press spokesman, said the ad was not produced by the Raese campaign. "Therefore, we have no power whatsoever over when it is pulled or not. We are one of those that are disappointed it wasn't taken down earlier."I cannot react to that which we cannot control," McLaughlin added.Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, said on Sunday, "The fact that they didn't pull the ad like they said they would is a slam to every working person in the state, including the owners of every company in the state."We need to treat them with the respect they deserve and vote against them."
Roberts added, "I am surprised there has not been more activity by the National Republican Senatorial Campaign committee to stand up and say, 'This should never have happened and we will work to make it right.'"The controversial ad gained widespread attention in the national media, including on NBC's "Today" show, "Hardball" with Chris Matthews, Fox News and National Public Radio."As West Virginians, we work very hard to let people know about the beauty of our state and the hardworking nature of West Virginians," Roberts said. "It is troubling that the people responsible for the ad have not done more to say, 'This is wrong.'"Perdue said, "This campaign is a race about truth or lies. The truth is actually coming out about the lies the Republican Senatorial Committee and Raese for Senate Committee are spreading."
Michael Stuart, a Charleston lawyer and chairman of the state Republican Party, told the "National Journal" last week that he had "no problem" with the controversial ad.Lara Ramsburg, a Manchin campaign spokeswoman, said on Sunday, "The ad is insulting. They needed to apologize immediately. Days later, they still haven't."The state Republican chairman said he was proud of the ad. John Raese said the ad was just politics."The ad was insulting. They certainly did not take it down quickly. And the fact they have not apologized is even more insulting," Ramsburg said.On Sunday, McLaughlin also criticized a new television ad being run by the Manchin campaign.That ad states, "Raese moved his family to [Palm Beach] Florida to avoid paying West Virginia taxes....
"Raese's wife is registered to vote in Florida, so she can't even vote for him. Why should we?" the ad concludes.McLaughlin said, "Desperation has pushed Gov. Manchin to a new low with this ad. Attacking a candidate's family is never acceptable, no matter how desperate a candidate is. Gov. Manchin should apologize immediately and pull this offensive, false ad." Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wcgazette.com
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