Bush backers play the race card

By Stephen W. Stromberg
Published August 12, 2004 2:04PM (EDT)

This just in: John Kerry is . . . white. In case anybody missed it, a group financed by a major Republican contributor has started running ads on black radio stations informing listeners that the Democratic candidate is "rich, white and wishy-washy."

According to theWashington Post, the group behind the anti-Kerry ads is called "People of Color United." It gets "substantial financial backing from J. Patrick Rooney, the former chairman of Golden Rule Insurance Co. and the founder of a new firm, Medical Savings Insurance Co. Both firms specialize in medical savings accounts, created by Republican-backed 1996 legislation, and health savings accounts, which were created by President Bush's 2003 Medicare prescription drug legislation. "

One of the spots takes Kerry to task for missing a vote on unemployment benefits. The Post says that another attacks Teresa Heinz Kerry, "who, at the Democratic convention last month cited her birth and upbringing in Mozambique and who has described herself as African American. In the radio commercial, the announcer says: 'His wife says she's an African American. While technically true, I don't believe a white woman, raised in Africa, surrounded by servants, qualifies.'"

'It's disgusting that the president's political allies are now using race as a political weapon," Bill Lynch, deputy manager of the Kerry campaign, told the Post. "First a group of right-wing Swift boat veterans began smearing John Kerry's military service, and now another group has resorted to playing racial politics.'

Stephen W. Stromberg

Stephen W. Stromberg is a former editorial fellow at Salon.

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