Three lessons of Jeremiah Wright plan against Obama

News about a proposal to use the Rev. Jeremiah Wright against President Obama in a GOP “super PAC” ad campaign caused the political world to combust. Charges of “race-baiting” flew, and suddenly the idea was an orphan. It’s safe to say, the ads will never be made. But there are lessons to be learned. 

3. Even seasoned political professionals have to be careful

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    A screenshot from the infamous 'demon sheep' ad.
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Fred Davis is no political spring chicken. He’s perhaps most famous for the “demon sheep” ad he produced in 2010 for US Senate candidate Carly Fiorina in California – you know, the one that featured a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” with glowing red eyes.

But Mr. Davis apparently didn’t think about how explosive it would be for his Jeremiah Wright proposal to fall into the wrong hands. Someone gave the glossy 54-page proposal ­– professionally bound and illustrated with color photos – to the Times, and the story was on its way. Of course, Davis apparently thought the Wright ad campaign was a good idea, so we’re supposing that he might have thought having it leaked to the media wouldn’t be embarrassing. Maybe now Davis will lay off the whole Wright idea.

Brian Baker, the head of the Ricketts super PAC, is one political pro who for sure is rethinking how he handled the situation.

In the original Times story, Mr. Baker had said in an interview that no decision had been made on the Wright proposal. On Friday, he said he should have been more definitive.

“I meant we would not be doing it,” said Baker on MSNBC. “I could have been clearer, yes. When I said no decision had been made, that meant we are not moving forward."

Two other high-profile Republican strategists got roped into the mess: GOP pollster Whit Ayres and Becki Donatelli, who was the McCain campaign’s Internet strategist. The Times story said Davis had included them on his “Recommended Team of Pirates” who would carry out the ad campaign. But both said Thursday they had no upfront involvement with the proposal.

“I will tell you that the NYT assertion that I was involved in developing the proposal is flat wrong, and neither reporter called to verify that before printing it,” Mr. Ayres said in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times.

On Friday, Ayres deferred followup questions to Davis’s firm, Strategic Perception.

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