Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has rejected a Republican super PAC plan to focus on President Obama’s relationship with his incendiary former pastor and spiritual adviser in the months leading up to the November election.
Mr. Romney personally denounced the proposal in an interview with the blog Town Hall.
“I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they’ve described. 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,” he said.
On Thursday, the New York Times reported on a secret $10 million super PAC plan to win the election crafted by prominent Republican strategists and commissioned by billionaire Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.
The plan would “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,” according to the report, including running commercials linking Mr. Obama to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., whose highly charged race-related sermons made him a lightning rod in the 2008 campaign.
By mid-day Thursday, Mr. Ricketts himself had put out a statement distancing himself from the plan, saying it was never operational and it’s not something he would support.
The proposal “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. 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,” according to a statement from the Ending Spending Action Fund, which Mr. Ricketts runs.
The White House also slammed the proposal as wrong-headed.
“To launch a multi-million dollar divisive attack campaign is not what the American people want,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters during a Thursday briefing “There are moments when you need to stand up and say that’s not the right way to go.”
When asked how Mr. Obama would respond if race became an issue in the campaign, Mr. Carney pointed to the speech on race the president gave in Philadelphia in 2008 but refused to comment further, saying right now the White House is focused on the economy and jobs.