Ralph Reed makes cameo in Obama ad

A new commercial in Georgia links a John McCain fundraiser with the GOP lobbyist -- and with Jack Abramoff.

Published August 20, 2008 9:50PM (EDT)

That fundraiser John McCain held in Atlanta the other night -- with promotional help from Ralph Reed, though he wasn't in attendance -- raised $1.75 million for the Republican's campaign. Now Barack Obama's hoping it wins him something better than money -- votes.

Obama's newest ad on Georgia TV stations zings McCain for raising money with the help of Reed, who was linked to convicted GOP power broker Jack Abramoff in a corruption investigation that McCain helped run. (Abramoff hired Reed's firm -- for $4.2 million -- to help rally Christian conservatives against casinos that Abramoff's Indian tribe clients opposed because they might have cut into their business.) The ad implies Reed helped raise money for McCain because McCain didn't call Reed to testify before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

"It was one of Washington's biggest scandals. And the Republican power broker Ralph Reed was in the middle of it. In deep with convicted felon and lobbyist Jack Abramoff," the narrator says. "But when the Senate investigated, the senator in charge never even called Reed to testify ... And that senator? John McCain. And who's now raising money for McCain's campaign? Ralph Reed. For 26 years in Washington, John McCain's played the same old games. We just can't afford more of the same."

McCain's campaign called the ad "ridiculous" and immediately brought up Bill Ayers in response. "Because of John McCain, corruption was exposed and people like Jack Abramoff went to jail," spokesman Brian Rogers said. "However, if Barack Obama wants to have a discussion about truly questionable associations, let's start with his relationship with the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, at whose home Obama's political career was reportedly launched."

The ad is running in Atlanta beginning Thursday, but Obama's campaign hasn't disclosed how often it'll appear on TV. Georgia hasn't voted for a Democrat since 1992, but Obama aides think he's got a shot there. The ad may also be designed to get national exposure through, well, blog posts like this one. Check it out here:

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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