Racially Provocative, $10 Million Anti-Obama Ad Campaign Planned by Billionaire Chicago Cubs Owner
UPDATE: A statement made on behalf of Ricketts refutes that he will be participating in any racially-focused plan.
Reverend Jeremiah Wright may become a campaign flashpoint once again.
President Obama's former long-time Chicago pastor who drew attention during the 2008 campaign for sermons critical of American foreign policy and domestic racial relations, is at the center of a plan led by billionaire Joe Ricketts to deny the president re-election.
The New York Times reports that Ricketts, who founded the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade and owns the Chicago Cubs, is working to enact a $10 million ad campaign detailed in a report called "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good." The 54-page proposal is critical of 2008 Republican nominee John McCain for his refusal to use Wright as a campaign issue; presumptive 2012 nominee Mitt Romney has largely focused on the economy in his campaign, leading Ricketts to believe that he must take action.
“Our plan is to do exactly what John McCain would not let us do: Show the world how Barack Obama’s opinions of America and the world were formed,” the Times quotes the proposal as saying. “And why the influence of that misguided mentor and our president’s formative years among left-wing intellectuals has brought our country to its knees.”
Later, Brian Baker, president of the Ending Spending Action Fund, released a statement insisting that Ricketts would not be involved in any race-based plan -- and that the plan was merely one of a few proposals.
"Not only was this plan merely a proposal – one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors – but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take," the statement read.
The group is seeking out an "extremely literate conservative African American" to sell the message that Obama presented himself as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln."
One early target is Larry Elder, a conservative black radio host in Los Angeles. In April, he posted to his website an opinion article in which he wrote that if Democrats seek to make an issue out of Romney's Mormonism, it would be fair game for Republicans to attack Obama's one-time affiliation with Wright.
Ricketts is hardly the first billionaire to target Obama; industrialist brothers David and Charles Koch helped fund the rise of the Tea Party and have pledged $100 million to defeating the president this year.
Both Obama and Romney have been busy raising money on their own; in April, Obama's campaign raised $43 million, while Romney cashed in $40.1 million. The president's haul should see a boost this month, following his $15 million fundraiser at the home of George Clooney and the financial spigot turned by his endorsement of gay marriage.
Email: Jordan.Zakarin@THR.com; Twitter: @JordanZakarin