Is Ken Mehlman Kidding? We Should Ask Harold Ford

The answer to Josh's question is no. He's a guy who isn't afraid to smear people with racism. He's a rich white guy who can spot insa

Russert-Mehlman.jpg The answer to Josh's question is no. He's a guy who isn't afraid to smear people with racism. He's a rich white guy who can spot insanely offensive racism instantly---except when he has a hand in it. He only pays the bills after all--why should Kenny boy be responsible for the content? Timmeh did a good job on the segment.

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TPM:

was just watching Tim Russert interview Ken Mehlman about the RNC's anti-Ford ad running in Tennessee. Russert asked him point blank if he would pull the ad given the outcry over racist overtones. He said it was an independent expenditure, so he wrote a check and that was it. He claimed to have no control over the content and no power to pull it. If that's really true, why does the legalese at the end of the ad state: "The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertisement. Paid for by the Republican National Committee and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. www.gop.com"? Wouldn't the legalese imply that Ken Mehlman has the power to pull the ad? If not, then how would anyone ever find out who bears responsibility? Just wondering how this really works....read on

RUSSERT: Ken Mehlman, the Republican candidate in Tennessee has asked that you take that ad off the air, that it is over the top. Former Republican Senator William Cohen says it’s, quote, “overt racist appeal.”

Will you take that ad down?

MEHLMAN: Tim, I don’t have the authority to take it down or put it up. It’s what called an independent expenditure.

MSNBC has the transcipt posted:

RUSSERT: Ken Mehlman, the Republican candidate in Tennessee has asked that you take that ad off the air, that it is over the top. Former Republican Senator William Cohen says it’s, quote, “overt racist appeal.”

Will you take that ad down?

MEHLMAN: Tim, I don’t have the authority to take it down or put it up. It’s what called an independent expenditure.

The way that process works under the campaign reform laws is I write a check to an independent individual. And that person’s responsible for spending money in certain states. Tennessee is one of them.

I’ll tell you this, though. After the comments by Mr. Corker and by former Senator Cohen, I looked at the ad. I don’t agree with that characterization of it. But it’s not an ad that I have authority over. I saw it for the first time the same time that they did.

RUSSERT: Hilary Shelton, the director of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP has criticized this ad. And he said, Ken Mehlman, that you went down to the NAACP in July of 2005 and apologized for the southern strategy of Republican candidates under Richard Nixon and using race as a wedge issue and that this ad does exactly that.

MEHLMAN: I would respectfully disagree with Mr. Shelton. I don’t believe that ad does that.

I will tell you this: I’m very proud of that speech I made. I think that there is nothing more repugnant in our society than people who try to divide Americans along racial lines. And I would denounce any ad that I felt did.

I happen not to believe that ad does, but as I said before, I don’t have the legal authority to take the ad down. It’s an independent expenditure. I looked at it. I just disagree with what Mr. Shelton said about it.

RUSSERT: Well, it’s not only Mr. Shelton. Former Senator Cohen, Vanderbilt professor John Green (sic) says it makes the Willie Horton ad look tame, that it’s filled with racial polarization.

MEHLMAN: Again, I just don’t agree with that at all. I showed it to a number of people when the complaints came out about it after it was put up—African-American folks, Hispanic folks and myself. We all looked at it. All of us, I think, are very sensitive to that. And we did not have that same reaction to it. So I just think there’s a disagreement about it.

RUSSERT: The whole idea of having a blond white woman winking at a black congressman, the notion of interracial sex is not in your mind racist?

MEHLMAN: I think that that ad talks about a number of people on the street talking about things that Mr. Ford allegedly has either done or a proposal he has for the future. I think it’s a fair ad.

As I said, we didn’t have anything to do with creating it. I just think those criticisms of it are wrong.

RUSSERT: And so the NAACP Washington director, an organization that you tried to court, is denouncing the ad—and it doesn’t seem to phase you.

MEHLMAN: Well, the Washington director of the NAACP and I happen to disagree about this.

I was proud of that speech I made. I took some heat for saying it. It was the right thing to say. I’m proud of the fact that our party under this president and under my leadership has made an incredibly aggressive effort to reach out to African-Americans.

I’m proud of the increased number of African-Americans who are running. I believe there is nothing more important we can do than bring people together. I just happen to disagree about the characterization of this ad.

And more importantly, there’s nothing I can do about it, because it’s not an ad over which I have authority or control. This is an independent expenditure.


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