Barack Obama’s lawyers will file a cease-and-desist letter to stop a pro-Trump group from releasing an advertisement in South Carolina that slams Joe Biden by taking Obama’s memoir out of context.
“This despicable ad is straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook, and it’s clearly designed to suppress turnout among minority voters in South Carolina by taking President Obama’s voice out of context and twisting his words to mislead viewers,” Katie Hill, Obama’s spokeswoman, said in a statement, according to The Hill. “In the interest of truth in advertising, we are calling on TV stations to take this ad down and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate.”
Although the former president has not endorsed a candidate in the primary, Hill said Obama has “several friends,” including Biden.
The ad misuses portions from Obama’s memoir, Dreams from My Father to try and persuade the state’s Black voters to vote against Biden.
“Joe Biden promised to help our community. It was a lie. Here’s President Obama,” the ad says at the beginning.
The ad then refers to a part of Obama’s book where he wrote about Black people’s mistreatment in America.
“Plantation politics. Black people in the worst jobs. The worst housing. Police brutality rampant. But when the so-called black committeemen came around election time, we’d all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey,” Obama says in the book.
In a statement to The Washington Post, Biden’s campaign spokesman called the ad a “despicable torrent of misinformation”
“Donald Trump and his allies are absolutely terrified that Joe Biden will defeat him in November. Trump even got himself impeached by trying to force another country to lie about the vice president,” Andrew Bates said in the statement. “This latest intervention in the Democratic primary is one of the most desperate yet, a despicable torrent of misinformation by the president’s lackeys.”
The same group also released a Spanish-language television ad in Nevada that criticized Obama and Biden’s record on immigration.
Republican groups have used the excerpt before in advertisements, suggesting Democrats take the Black vote for granted. Great America Alliance, another pro-Trump group, used the excerpt in Georgia’s special House election in 2017.
In that race, Obama’s senior advisor, Eric Schultz, called the ad “a shameful, indefensible tactic” that really was aimed at keeping Black voters from voting.
“Deceptively using President Obama’s voice to suggest people sit out of the democratic process is a form of voter suppression and it not only signals weakness, it runs counter to our American values,” Schultz told CNN back then.