- Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The New Orleans branch of the NAACP called Thursday on Republican candidate for governor David Vitter to take down a TV ad, accusing the U.S. senator’s campaign of “race baiting.”

The television spot that drew the objection claims Vitter’s Democratic rival in the Nov. 21 runoff election, John Bel Edwards, would release thousands of “dangerous thugs” from prison if elected.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1WlymYt ) that Morris Reed, the NAACP’s New Orleans chapter president, objected to use of the word “thug” and said the ad seeks to “strike fear in the hearts of the white community.”

“It attempts to polarize, in our opinion, the races in our state, by driving a wedge between the black community and white community and attempting to frighten the white community about the possible release of a large number of inmates from the prison system,” said Reed, a former prosecutor and criminal court judge.

“We don’t think we should blanket the entire prison community as thugs,” he said.

The TV ad seeks to tie Edwards to President Barack Obama, referencing remarks Edwards made last month at Southern University about shrinking Louisiana’s prison population. A narrator warns that, like Obama who has advocated the release of federal prisoners, Edwards will release “dangerous thugs, drug dealers back into our neighborhoods.”

Vitter’s campaign said Thursday it wouldn’t remove the ad from television - and he doubled down on the term that was the subject of complaint.

“Edwards’ and Obama’s almost identical proposals to release 5,500-6,000 criminals from prisons is dangerous and irresponsible. They’d release dangerous thugs as defined by Merriam-Webster who’d threaten ALL of our neighborhoods,” Vitter said in a statement.

Edwards also has objected to the television spot, calling it an inaccurate part of Vitter’s “smear campaign.”

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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