Friday, October 27, 2006

Rove Protégé Behind Racy Tennessee Ad

(CBS/AP) A protégé of White House political guru Karl Rove produced the controversial Republican National Committee ad targeting Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Harold Ford Jr., that some have called racist, CBS News has learned.

The ad, in which a white woman with blonde hair and bare shoulders looks into the camera and whispers, "Harold, call me," and then winks, was produced by Scott Howell, the former political director for Rove's consulting firm in Texas.

The RNC ad doesn't mention that "Harold" is black, but the NAACP and others have complained the commercial makes an implicit appeal to deep-seated racial fears about black men and white women.

The race between Ford Jr. and Republican Bob Corker is among the most competitive and nasty U.S. Senate races in the nation. But it didn't just happen with a racially-charged ad from Republicans, reports CBS News national correspondent Byron Pitts.

The Democrats struck first weeks ago by playing the class card in an add which states that Corker's "personal income grew by 40 percent to $11 million."

Howell is no stranger to controversy. He was media consultant for Sen. Saxby Chambliss when his campaign ran an ad showing a picture of then-Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who lost his legs in the Vietnam War, alongside Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

He also produced an ad for Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn that accused Democrat Brad Carson of being soft on welfare while showing two black hands counting cash.


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