Ad targets Democrat’s Arab roots

2010-10-07 12:04

West Virginia - A West Virginia group led by Republican activists associated with the anti-establishment tea party movement is running an ad trying to link a long-time Democratic congressman to President Barack Obama, emphasising the congressman's Arab-American roots.

One of the leaders of the group paying for the ad, West Virginia Conservative Foundation, also contributes to a blog that has targeted Republican Nick Rahall, a Christian of Lebanese descent, and suggested he has ties to terrorists or their supporters.

In the ad, ominous music plays as Rahall discusses his chairmanship of the Arab-Americans for Obama group when Obama was a presidential candidate. The ad ends asking viewers to call Rahall and "tell him to stand with West Virginians".

The 61-year-old Rahall, a Presbyterian, is vying for an 18th US House term in the state's southern 3rd Congressional District. He faces Republican and former state Supreme Court Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard, whose campaign didn't immediately comment on the ad.

The conservative group spent more than $227 000 on the ad, but declined to reveal its donors.

Lance Eric Schultz and Nathaniel "Thorney" Lieberman, Charleston-based Republicans and tea party activists, are listed as the group's current leaders.

A photographer, Lieberman's work and activism appears on a blog that routinely attacks Arabs and Muslims, particularly on topics involving Israel.

The blog also promotes the view that Obama is a Muslim who may not have been born in the US Obama is a Christian who was born in US.

The president is considered unpopular in West Virginia. He failed to win in 2008 and state Republicans have seized on the president's low approval ratings in several races, including Rahall's.

State Republican Party chairperson Mike Stuart, who founded the conservative group, distanced himself from both the ad and the group on Wednesday.

"I don't support that ad in any way, shape or form," said Stuart, who became party chief in July. "I abhor that sort of thing."