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Mitt Romney repudiates idea of using Jeremiah Wright against Obama

Mitt Romney spoke out Thursday after The New York Times reported on a plan to use the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's 'black liberation theology' – and his role as Obama's former pastor – to go after the president.

By Staff writer / May 17, 2012

Rev. Jeremiah Wright speaks in Jackson, Miss., in this March 25 file photo. GOP consultants made headlines this week after urging a super PAC working to defeat President Obama to prepare an ad campaign highlighting Obama's ties to his former pastor.

Rogelio V. Solis/AP/File

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WASHINGTON

Don’t go there. That, in essence, is the message Thursday from Mitt Romney, who said he “repudiates” an idea that was reportedly under consideration by an outside GOP group to run ads using the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. to attack President Obama.

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Since publication of The New York Times article Thursday describing the idea, the Chicago billionaire who was reportedly considering funding the $10 million plan has disavowed it.  

But that news came after an explosive reaction across the political spectrum, from both the Romney and Obama campaigns, as well as political strategists and observers. And once again, the issue of race has been injected into the campaign.

During the last presidential campaign, videos of incendiary sermons by Mr. Wright, the president’s former spiritual adviser, came to light. John McCain, the Republican nominee in 2008, refused to make Wright an issue and Mr. Romney, the party’s presumptive nominee this year, is furthering that view.

According to Thursday’s New York Times, Chicago billionaire Joe Ricketts was considering a $10 million ad campaign that would highlight Obama’s former relationship with Wright, who espouses “black liberation theology.” Mr. Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade, and a “super PAC” he supports, the Ending Spending Action Fund, were considering various proposals from a group of high-profile Republican strategists, including this idea.

Midday on Thursday, Brian Baker, president of the Ending Spending Action Fund, released a statement on behalf of Ricketts.

“Joe Ricketts is a registered independent, a fiscal conservative, and an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the so-called ‘Ricketts Plan’ to defeat Mr. Obama that The New York Times wrote about this morning,” the statement read.

“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 continued. “Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a president this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally.”

Earlier in the day, Romney also rejected the proposal.

“I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they’ve described,” Romney told the conservative Townhall web site Thursday. “I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity – particularly for those in the middle class of America.”

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