October 7th, 2010
09:59 AM ET
4 years ago

Talent agency for GOP ad called for 'hicky blue collar look'

UPDATE 11:00 a.m. ET: The NRSC has removed the ad from YouTube.

(CNN) An ad out this week that's financed by National Republicans portrays three West Virginia voters in a rustic-looking diner declaring that Gov. Joe Manchin, the Democrat's Senate nominee, should stay "right here in West Virginia."

But there is one caveat: The ad was shot at least 250 miles east of the state, in Philadelphia, and features not actual West Virginians, but paid actors instead. And to look the part of a West Virginian, the talent agency in charge of casting for the spot sent out a call for a "'Hicky' Blue Collar look."

"These characters are from West Virginia so think coal miner/trucker looks," the casting call read, obtained by CNN from a Democratic source. "Each character should bring [sic] several options and stay away from all black or all white or thin stripes (thicker stripes and plaid are good)."

The talent agency also made several additional clothing suggestions, including a "Dickie's type jacket with t-shirt underneath," "Down filled vest," "John Deer hats (not brand new, preferably beat up)," and "Trucker hats (not brand new, preferably beat up)."

Democrats eagerly circulated the casting call – first reported by Politico – Thursday morning. But a National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman says the GOP hired a subcontractor for the commercial and had never seen the language that was used to recruit the spot's actors.

Republicans removed the ad from YouTube on Thursday morning.

"Contrary to the false headline in Politico, no one at the NRSC, or associated with the NRSC, had anything to do with the language used in this casting call. We do not support it, and suffice to say, we would encourage our contractors to never work with this outside agency again," said Brian Walsh, NRSC Communications Director."

An NRSC official added that the Independent Expenditure arm of the Republican organization contacted a GOP consulting firm to produce the ad, Jamestown Associates, which in turn approached the talent agency that used the casting call in question. It was the talent agency, and not the NRSC or the GOP consulting group that used the "hicky" language," the official said.

Nonetheless, the ad ends with the text, “The National Republican Senatorial Committee is responsible for the content of this ad," and a GOP source confirmed the ad was removed from YouTube because "Democrats are trying to make it an issue to distract from Manchin's flip-flopping on ObamaCare."

Of course, actors have long been used for political commercials by both parties alike, and even as Democratic sources leaked the casting call, they admitted their party uses actors too. But rarely is such colorful language revealed showing just how these spots get the right look to fit a state's demographics.

Still, Manchin, who is locked in a tight Senate battle with Republican businessman John Raese, immediately called on Raese to apologize for the language used in the casting call

"John Raese and his special interest friends have insulted the people of West Virginia and need to immediately apologize," said Manchin in a statement. "Not only have they been spending millions to try and buy this election with lies and distortions, we can now see once and for all what he and his friends really think of West Virginia and our people."

Actors and fake costumes aside, the ad itself might not be too far off in conveying the actual feelings of West Virginia voters during this cycle where any candidate viewed as the establishment faces an uphill battle.

"I won't be voting for [Manchin] for Senate," Nathan Rose, manager of the First Watch Diner in Charleston, told CNN this week. "I just want someone who is going to stand up against the way things are going," he said.

"I voted for him both times he's run here in West Virginia, but going to Washington, it scares me to death that he's just going to be a rubber stamp," said another voter, Dave Ridel. "I'm afraid he's going to be a rubber stamp for [President] Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelsoi."

The winner of November's special election will fill the final two years of the term of Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, who died earlier this year. Byrd was first elected to the Senate in 1958.

–CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Alexander Mooney contributed to this report


Filed under: 2010 • Ads • Joe Manchin • John Raese • West Virginia
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Gotta love the "rubber stamp" accusations, when it is, in fact, the GOP that sets the standard for goose-stepping rubber-stamping ideological hive-mind behavior. Just more "I know you are but what am I?" playground politics. Ridiculous. I'd like to see what their casting calls look like when they want to fearmonger about illegal immigration or Medicare. "Calling all incontinenty seniley looking retired persons...adult diapers preferred!" And God forbid we get our hands on the casting call for one of their voter registration fraud demagoguery attempts, because that's invariably directed at registration drives in minority communities.

    October 7, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. Shawn

    And this is why I vote democrat.

    October 7, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  3. Anonymous

    The Repubican party once again lacking the sensivity for real people. They know how to portray big business because they are big business, But when you have nothing in common with the individual, what do you expect.
    I hope the good folks of WV realize they are considered " Hicky"

    October 7, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  4. Anne-Florida

    Some of the people interviewed evidently are Fox viewers. If the governor has done a good job there is no reason to not send him to Washington. The right has cursed Nancy Pelosi and Obama ever since Obama was elected. Evidently the right (since it is covered non-stop by Fox) has many male viewers and of course they believe everything they hear and see. Also since the Chamber of Commerce has (found) all this foreign money to advertise right wing candidates, we are filled with commercials on all the TV channels to vote the Democrats out. Cannot help but wonder the dumbing down of America is at its finest!!

    October 7, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  5. Brian in MD

    Wow the Dems are really reaching. How about running on your record?

    October 7, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  6. Terry - Indiana

    Way to go GOP. When you want someone to like a "Hick" call Hollywood.

    October 7, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. Moby Detroit, MI

    Wow they even outsource political ads. What should I draw from the fact that they can't even hire from the state the ad is about?? Not to mention they couldn't find real people for the ad.

    October 7, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  8. gg

    Another cynical manipulative move by the fascist GOP.

    October 7, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  9. Mortimer Da Luvly

    At least the ad didn't call for actors who look like white trash. Although that would have been a more honest use of words.

    October 7, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  10. JD in Moraga, CA

    Stereotypes are a real time-saver!

    October 7, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  11. Haren

    We american does not have patiences, it will take more than 18 months to correct the problem created by republican for last 20 years.
    Government is not problem but guy like Glen beck who uses all good thing which govt, did for him when he wake up to go to sleep is nothing but ungreatful and Hippocrate.
    From break fast,lunch,dinner (good healthy) to clean air which he breath,clean water which he drink, to social security,medicare,pension,unemployment, transportation,police,fire fighter, school, energy all are provided to him by government.
    Just think about it if Social security and medicare managed by private co. with more than 5%admistrative cost and 30% profit.

    If righty on this blog does not know than please educate your self.
    it cost only less than .80% to run social security and medicare.

    October 7, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  12. Terry - Indiana

    I predict that the GOP will say that they were focused on creating jobs for out of work actors, and in no way intended to insult the "Hicks" in West Virginia. Wake-up America, the Republicans see a world with "Haves" and "Hicks". If you are a "Have" vote Republican. If you are a "Hick", well you decide.

    October 7, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  13. Georgia

    Well, that was brilliant of them.

    The GOP apparently sees its Southern members as a bunch of baseball cap wearing, scruffy looking hillbillies.

    Nice one, guys.

    October 7, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  14. BeverlyNC

    Just goes to further prove the point that Republicans are elitists who know nothing about or care nothing about the working class people of America. They will do anything, say anything, insult anyone they see as beneath their rich priviledged class. They have voted NO on every single piece of legislation to help the PEOPLE and have only fought for the corporations. On one hand the GOP is full of arrogant self-centered liars and the Teabagger end is full of uneducated, easly fooled, gun-toting racists who have extreme ideas that endanger our Constitution. The answer is to reject all Republicans. They are either only self-promoters or ignorannt and racist and not one has a single solid idea to restore our nation.

    October 7, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. Lori in St Pete

    What, they couldn't find any local "hicks" who share their ideolgy, so they had to go to a big city casting agency in another state? Good people of WV, this is what the rethugliban REALLY thinks of you – a bunch of know nothing "hicks" who can be easily swayed. Real Americans know you love your gov, but we really need him in D.C. right now. Don't let the haters win. Vote for Manchin on November 2.

    October 7, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  16. Bill Collins

    "I'm afraid he's going to be a rubber stamp for [President] Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelsoi."

    Afraid is the operative term.

    October 7, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  17. Lori in St Pete

    The NRSC wants the ad removed, huh? The dems need to use it in their OWN ads to drive home the truth about what the rethugliban and their kochtopus benefactors REALLY think about the bottom 98% of us!

    October 7, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. MAhole

    Just further attempts at the "dumbing down" of the American electorate by the Republicans.
    They sure do like the hillbilly look – "the shrub" was a prime example of that – tried to come off looking like a coca-cola cowboy.
    Silly Sarah and the Wasilla Hillbillies are yet another example............You betcha – winky-winky!!!!

    October 7, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. Former Republican - Now Independent

    Guess the ad agency could not find any REAL West Virginians that liked the Republican candidate.

    What a fraud the GOP is.

    October 7, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. PalmReader

    If this article doesn't show GOP constituents throughout America in what low contempt they are being held by those begging for their votes using *hick* actors to support their causes, then I doubt anything else being offered will.

    That these *hick actors* are actually portraying real coal miners sickens me . . . especially considering the deaths of those miners killed in the recent West Virgina coal mining disaster.

    Rather reminds me of Glenn Beck laughing and mocking the family in Tn who lost their home while the *courageous* firefighters stood back and watched it burn.

    October 7, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. Captain Awesome

    I fail to see the 'scandal' in this. The folks directing this ad wanted to appeal to a certain audience. Are democrats innocent of doing the same things in their ads? I doubt it. But this is another case of the media trying desperately to create scandal for Republicans where there isn't one. The economy is in the tank and people are miserable and hopeless, but psuedo scandals and ridicule are the only things the liberals have left. Will CNN inquire as to how the casting call requirements got leaked or who leaked them? Didn't think so.

    October 7, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. Pretzel Logic

    Apparently Republicans love dumb hicks – they are easy to fool and manipulate.

    October 7, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. Leslie

    This should confirm to all that the Republican Party is racist!!

    October 7, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Hey, GOP, there's this thing you may have heard about. It's called sincerity. It sort of goes along with honesty and integrity. I know those are three words you probably aren't familiar with, but you should be, especially if you want the American people to rehire you to fix what you spent 12 of the last 16 years breaking.

    October 7, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  25. Mr. T. Bag

    I knew they were actors!! –They're probably from San Francisco and formerly starred in La Cage Au Folles.

    I thought those guys seemed a little bit too clean and 'edjacated' to be from West Virginia.....

    Again, HA! (with emphasis on the HA)

    October 7, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
1 2 3