The group of GOP strategists who were exposed for their race-baiting plan to attack President Obama on his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright are trying to distance themselves from a proposal that sought to portray “Barack Hussein Obama” as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”
Brian Baker, president and general counsel of the Ending Spending Action Fund — the super PAC that considered the Wright attacks — appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Friday to argue that the PAC and chief financier Joe Ricketts were only interested in criticizing the administration’s handling of the economy and wanted to steer clear of “attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally.”
But Baker’s comments to the New York Times before the controversy erupted on Thursday may complicate his attempts to distance the PAC from the proposal. Baker told the newspaper on Wednesday that no decision has been made on whether or not to dredge up Wright. Asked to clarify the remark this morning, Baker claimed that he meant to say that “we will not be doing this”:
MARK HALPERIN (TIME): Is that accurate? Did you tell the New York Times on Wednesday that you all had not made a decision about whether to go with this plan or not?
BAKER: Mark, what I said to the New York Times — and I tried to make very clear that I had not spoken to Mr. Ricketts on this — that when I got this thing on Thursday, I didn’t think it was anything worth consideration. Joe wasn’t at the meeting. I never spoke to Mr. Ricketts about it, and what I said to him very clearly was, ‘This was so far a field than what we wanted’ and I pointed him to the sentence in the report which says we know you wanted something related to spending and we’re giving you something related to character. So I said this is just one of many proposals. And when I said no decisions have been made, I was meaning we will not be doing this. Now, I could have been clearer. Yes, I should have been clearer. But when I meant no decisions have been made, I meant we’re not moving forward. That was what I was trying to communicate to the New York Times.
Baker and his colleagues are doing serious damage control, but Fred Davis — whose company drafted the proposal — insists that Baker did not shoot it down. In a statement yesterday, the firm said, “The Ricketts family never approved it, and nothing has happened on it since the presentation.”
While most Republicans — including Romney himself — are disavowing the smear campaign, at least one prominent party member has endorsed the Wright attacks. Herman Cain, former Presidential candidate and Romney endorser, told Greta van Susteren that Rev. Wright is “fair game.” “[Q]uite frankly, it wasn’t highlighted enough in 2008 when he was running for president the first time,” he added.