- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Virginia Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie waded into the thorny battle over the Washington Redskins, airing a television ad declaring his opposition to a congressional effort aimed at forcing the team to change its name.

The ad, which aired Monday night during the Redskins‘ 20-17 upset victory of the Dallas Cowboys on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” criticized Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark R. Warner for not taking a stance on a bill that would revoke the National Football League’s tax-exempt status if it keeps promoting the team name “Redskins.”

“I’ll oppose the anti-Redskins bill,” Mr. Gillespie says in the ad. “Let’s focus on creating jobs, raising take-home pay and making our nation safer, and let the Redskins handle what to call their team.”

Some American Indian groups have deemed the name offensive, but team owner Daniel Snyder has said it is intended to convey honor and respect and that he will never change it.

The ad’s message was a distinct departure in a campaign that has largely turned on the Republican’s accusations that the popular former governor has compromised his centrist credentials by faithfully supporting President Obama’s agenda.

It comes after Mr. Gillespie’s campaign briefly pulled its television ads recently in what some saw as a cost-saving move for the candidate, who is trailing in the polls and in campaign cash.

Mr. Warner’s campaign on Tuesday dismissed the ads as a desperate stunt to appeal to a broad majority of Redskins fans who say the name is not offensive.

“Down double digits, late in the fourth quarter, the Gillespie campaign threw an incomplete Hail Mary,” Warner campaign spokesman David Turner said. “Redskins fans know that Senator Warner didn’t join any efforts to force a name change.”

The battle over the name of the team, whose practice facilities and headquarters are in Virginia, has put state Democrats such as Mr. Warner and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a tight spot.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, has harangued Mr. Snyder and the name repeatedly on the Senate floor. Mr. Warner was among five Democratic senators who did not sign on to a letter Mr. Reid sent NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in May urging him to change the name.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said he is supportive of a name change, as is Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, where the team plays its home games.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, the Democratic nominee for Maryland governor, says he supports a name change while Republican candidate Larry Hogan says the decision belongs with the team.

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