adventures in political advertising
September 20, 2018

The Republican Party in Fort Bend County, Texas, is apologizing for an ad it ran in an Indian-American newspaper during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, celebrating the birth of the elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesaha. "Would you worship a donkey or an elephant?" the ad asked. "The choice is yours." The suburban Houston county is home to a competitive congressional race between incumbent GOP Rep. Pete Olson and Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni; about a fifth of the 22nd Congressional District is, like Kulkarni, Asian American.

"While we appreciate the Fort Bend County GOP's attempt to reach out to Hindus on an important Hindu festival, its ad — equating Hindus' veneration of the Lord Ganesha with choosing a political party based on its animal symbol — is problematic and offensive," said Rishi Bhutada at the Hindu American Foundation. The foundation asked that the Fort Bend Republican Party "apologize for the offensive and inaccurate reference" and "not run the ad again."

"Pete agrees" that the ad "should have been more respectful," said Olson campaign manager Craig Lewellyn. "The ad was not meant to disparage Hindu customs or traditions in any way," the Fort Bend GOP said in a statement. "This ad was created with input from those of Hindu faith so that we could properly pay respect to the sacred festival. ... We offer our sincerest apologies to anyone that was offended by the ad. Obviously, that was not the intent." Peter Weber

November 7, 2017

Two weeks ago, billionaire donor and liberal activist Tom Steyer launched a $10 million ad buy for his 60-second spot arguing for the impeachment of President Trump, and on Monday, his lawyer accused Fox News of reneging on its contract to air the commercial another seven times this week. Fox News doesn't dispute that it pulled the ad. "Due to the strong negative reaction to their ad by our viewers, we could not in good conscience take their money," Fox News co-president Jack Abernethy said in a statement. One of those viewers was apparently Trump. After Steyer's ad played three times on Fox & Friends on Oct. 27, Trump tweeted: "Wacky & totally unhinged Tom Steyer, who has been fighting me and my Make America Great Again agenda from beginning, never wins elections!"

Steyer's lawyer Brad Deutsch said Fox News had "unconditionally" agreed to broadcast Steyer's ad this week, calling the decision to pull the spot "baseless and unethical" and "a profound failure of journalistic integrity, a suppression of constitutionally protected speech, and likely a consequence of inexcusable political pressure." Deutsch said 1.5 million Americans have signed Steyer's impeachment petition. Impeachment is more popular than you might expect in Trump's first year, but there's almost no chance the Republican-led Congress will act on Steyer's suggestion. Peter Weber

June 29, 2016

Following the group's endorsement of Donald Trump in May, the National Rifle Association's Victory Fund is now putting its money where its mouth is by launching a $2 million advertising campaign in six battleground states that hammers Hillary Clinton for the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

In the ad, Marine Corps veteran Mark Geist, who fought in Libya, urges voters to do "their part" by voting against Clinton. "A lot of people say they're not going to vote this November because their candidate didn't win. Well, I know some people who won't be voting this year either," Geist says from an oversaturated cemetery:

In Clinton's response to the Benghazi investigation report released by House Republicans on Tuesday, which found no evidence that she, at that time serving as secretary of state, was culpable for the deaths of four Americans, Clinton said, "I think it's pretty clear it's time to move on." Jeva Lange

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