A Republican Super PAC is considering the release of a short film that would sharply attack President Obama’s character and link him to his ex-pastor Jeremiah Wright in a way John McCain refused to do in 2008, the New York Times reported Thursday.
According to an outline of the project obtained by the Times, Republican strategists have sketched out a five-minute campaign commercial called “Next” that would include Wright shouting “God Damn America” in a sermon and show a picture of Wright and Obama together with the text, “there’s simply a fundamental difference between his view of America and ours.” After attacking Obama’s record on a number of issues and several images of Wright, the film would end with a woman declaring “oh God, what would he do next,” referring to Obama.
“Our plan is to do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,” strategists working for the “Ending Spending Action Fund” write in a 54-page memo obtained by the Times that lays out the film and other projects. “Show the world how Barack Obama’s opinions of America and the world were formed.
They add, “the world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way. He will draw the attention. He is truly the elephant in the room.”
The GOP organization, according to the memo, wants to hire an “extremely literate conservative African-American” (radio host Larry Elder is said to be on the short list) to argue that Obama deceived Americans by portraying himself as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”
“The instance response liberals give to any attack is to deem the attack as racist,” the strategists write in an extended memo on their strategy the Times also published. “In the case involving an African-American president, even more so.”
They add,”we have two ways to help mitigate that potential. First, included an extremely literate, conservative African American in our spokesman group. Our recommendation is Larry Elder, a prominent ABC talk radio host in California. We have discussed our approach with him in confidence and he immediately understood and ‘got it.’
They also discuss the importance of using focus groups to identify any language or visuals that “could be reasonably deemed ‘racist.”
According to the Times, the strategists behind the film would like it to run around the time of the Democratic National Convention in September. But it has not been completed yet, and the newspaper said the movie outline was leaked by people who think the film is too negative and would prefer it not be aired.
The outline was prepared by the firm of Fred Davis, a longtime Republican strategist, and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade and a part owner of the Chicago Cubs. Ricketts helps fund “Ending Spending Action Fund,” which would pay for airing the commercial. He has not formally approved the project.
According to the Times, the project would not just include the film on television, but also outdoor advertisements and other activity around the Democratic convention in Charlotte. They also would create a website on Obama’s “formative years,” with a focus on Wright.
If released, the film would return Wright to the center of American politics, four years after Obama distanced himself from the man who married the president and Michelle.
The film would in some ways reshape the entire presidential campaign. Mitt Romney has shied away from personal and cultural attacks against the president, instead talking almost exclusively about the economy. And Obama has had to endure little of the scrutiny of his personal background that dominated the 2008 campaign.
Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr