WASHINGTON – A Republican interest group yanked a radio ad aimed at black voters in Kansas and Missouri and comparing Social Security benefits to slavery reparations -- except paid to whites by blacks.
The move Thursday was the latest skirmish in a multistate war over Social Security ads pegged to November's congressional elections.
The commercial was paid for by a Republican political action committee and aired in the Kansas City area on an urban contemporary station whose listeners are predominantly black. GOPAC, which is headed by Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, said the ad was a mistake and withdrew it Thursday after calls from reporters and protests from an anti-privatization group.
"You've heard about reparations, you know, where whites compensate blacks for enslaving us," the ad says. "Well guess what we've got now. Reverse reparations." The commercial says blacks earn thousands of dollars less in retirement benefits than whites because they have shorter life spans.
"So the next time some Democrat says he won't touch Social Security, ask why he thinks blacks owe reparations to whites," the ad says.
GOPAC spokesman Mike Tuffin said his committee is working with a local media company, Access Communications, which mistakenly gave the ad to KPRS-FM as one of several targeting black voters.
"We disavow it and have seen to it that it was immediately pulled," Tuffin said. "We did not know it was going to be run and never intended it to be run."
NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said, "To believe that broadcasting these falsehoods in such a racially colored way aimed at African American voters, obviously thinking they'd buy it hook, line and sinker, is insulting."
Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called the ad "reprehensible race baiting."
"Is this the Republicans' idea of African American outreach?" he said in a statement. "It's fine that the GOPAC has pulled this ad; the question is why was it even considered, let alone produced, in the first place?"
Former Kansas City Mayor Emanuel Cleaver said Keating should apologize for his organization.
"No one should realize more than Governor Keating the need for people to rally together in this nation after a tragedy," he said. "The people giving them direction on this are so out of touch with black people that the ads are subliminally saying to black folks, 'Don't join the Republican Party."'
It's not the only dispute over Social Security ads. In other cases:
-- A Social Security ad in West Virginia also is stirring anger, this time from the GOP. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito has demanded that Democrats stop airing a television ad claiming she voted against an attempt to "protect Social Security from privatization" because she says it is false. The Democrats have refused, but four stations said Thursday they would not use the ad. Democrats said other stations continued to air it.
-- When Minnesota Democrats recently began running radio ads accusing John Kline of seeking to "end Social Security as we know it," the Republican congressional candidate and his allies fought back, though so far unsuccessfully. Kline wrote stations, asking them to stop running the ad on grounds it was false. A Washington-based lawyer followed up, raising the possibility of a lawsuit.
Democrats have identified Social Security as a core campaign issue that they think can help them regain control of the House. They have been criticizing President Bush's plan to overhaul Social Security by letting younger workers invest a portion of their payroll taxes in the stock market.
The Kansas City ad said Bush's proposed changes would help blacks by giving them higher benefits with "real financial assets."
The ad "is incredibly patronizing in so many ways," said Hans Riemer, senior analyst for Campaign for America's Future, an anti-privatization group that first raised questions about it.
The radio station broadcasts in an area featuring a contested race between two-term Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore and a political newcomer, Republican pilot Adam Taff. Taff recently hired a new strategist, Joe Gaylord, who had been a consultant for GOPAC.
Taff said there was no connection between his campaign and the ad. "Nothing could be farther from the truth," he said.
Moore's campaign spokesman, Jack Martin, said: "It's reprehensible that they're misleading voters about Social Security with these ads."
The station's sales contract shows GOPAC paid about $5,000 for ads, which were to air four times daily from Sept. 3-6 and also Monday through Sept. 22. It lists Richard Nadler as the contact at Access Communications.
Nadler was criticized in 2000 for an ad featuring a woman saying she had put her son in a private school because drugs and violence at his public school were "a bit more diversity than he could handle." The ad urged voters to support Republicans, but leading GOP candidates denounced it.