February 6th, 2012
05:26 PM ET
6 years ago

Hoekstra won't apologize for Super Bowl ad

(CNN) - In the political world, it was the most talked-about ad from Sunday night's Super Bowl telecast. Pete Hoekstra, running for Senate in Michigan against incumbent Debbie Stabenow, hit the Democrat for her record on spending. But some are criticizing the spot for being blatantly racist.

The 30-second ad features a young Asian woman riding a bike through rice paddies speaking in unaccented but broken English:

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"Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow," the woman said. "Debbie spend so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow."

The ad debuted during the Super Bowl in Michigan television markets, and is accompanied with a website that includes Chinese characters and titles like the "Great Wall of Debt."

The ad is being lambasted by critics who call its depiction of the Asian woman racist.

In an interview with CNN Monday, Hoekstra defended the spot. Responding to allegations of racism, Hoekstra said "I don't think there's any element of that at all."

He added, "The only stereotyping is of liberal Democrats and their spending polices."

But the response from viewers who saw the ad, including fellow Republicans, was swift.

Republican strategist Mike Murphy tweeted, "Pete Hoekstra Superbowl TV ad in MI Senate race really, really dumb. I mean really."

And a group of Detroit Baptist ministers are calling on Hoekstra to apologize and pull the ad.

"If he would say these types of things, and use these types of actions, using Asians, than we believe the same fear tactics will be presented in this regard to African-Americans," civil rights leader Rev. Charles Williams II said at a press conference Monday.

The ad was reportedly produced by Fred Davis of Strategic Perception. He's the same ad man behind the now infamous "I'm not a witch" ad by former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell. Davis purposely goes for ads that are attention getting.

In fact, Hoekstra was the target of an ad campaign produced by Davis in 2010 during a run for Michigan governor. The spots, produced by Republican opponent Rick Snyder, presented Snyder as "one tough nerd" while painting Hoekstra as a career politician.

The ad's effectiveness sparked Hoekstra to hire Davis to produce a hard-hitting for his own campaign.

Despite the uproar, Hoekstra has no intention of backing down.

"No, I'm not apologizing for the ad," Hoekstra said. "If someone believes that we were insensitive, I'm sorry to them. But I'm not apologizing for this ad at all. I think it clearly drives the message. The problem is American public policy, it's not what the Chinese are doing at all."

Hoekstra centered a fundraising email to supporters around the ad Monday, writing "Here we go again. We dared to take on Debbie Stabenow and China, and the liberals are doing what they always do-crying racism."

The email directs readers to Hoekstra's campaign website, where they can contribute money to his election effort.

Senator Stabenow's campaign office referred requests for comment to the Michigan Democratic Party, which pointed to Hoekstra's own record of voting to increase the national debt ceiling and for the bailout of Wall Street.

Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said is the ad was backfiring.

"It was shot in the United States," Brewer said. "I understand the actress is an American. It's just hypocrisy and just so insincere. I think it just adds to Pete Hoekstra's credibility problems."

Also see:

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Filed under: Ads • Michigan • Peter Hoekstra
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Phil in KC

    Racism aside, it's still in very poor taste. This guy is really in the gutter.

    February 6, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. Humm

    Yikes. Although, I'm actually not sure what racisism is for a Republican anymore. Short of using the "N word", they say nothing is racism. Ironically, he's putting this add on in a state that has been helped tremendously from the auto industry bailout. I'm not sure if this is something he really thought out. Frankly, the "I'm not a witch" deal didn't help out O'Donnell at all. It made her a punch line. That and the Angle compaign in NV basically made sure that the Democrats would hold the Senate. I guess we should be thankful for politicians like this and the Tea Party.

    February 6, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. DK

    Racist or not, this is typical of Repubs, pass the blame and bear no responsibility for anything they have done. America is in the shape it's in because of Both parties, do you elect the one that says we need to fix some things, or do you elect the one that points the finger and blames everybody else and wants to go right back to the policies that are proven failures. If you elect these people, you deserve what you get America..just look at the senate.

    February 6, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Data Driven

    "Dear Pete,

    We love you long time.

    Wall Street"

    February 6, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. Killdeer

    Well I saw it and it's just typical rebublican racism at it's finest.

    February 6, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  6. Bill

    This guy is a creep. But again, he is representative of the GOP losers in Congress.

    February 6, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  7. jane

    What a dirt bag.

    February 6, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. diridi

    in November, folks, you put him in trash, idiot.

    February 6, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  9. Nothing new here

    Pots calls the Kettle black.
    And brings Asians into this nasty mess. Silly.
    This guy is doing nothing more than protesting himself, so he should have been riding that bike. He could sure use the exercise.

    February 6, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  10. Bigereads

    Can anyone name one great thing that Hoekstra has done for the middle class and does anyone know if he has ever known a truly poor person? This guy is always surly and hypocritical of anything Obama has done. He really doesn't give a damn about Americans, he just wants to keep his gravy job doing nothing and getting paid for it. What a bum.

    February 6, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  11. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    if there are Republicans that are slamming this ad then it MUST be bad.

    February 6, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  12. JacsinJax

    Amazing. When the GOP says it's racist you'd think he could take a hint. This is a perfect example of fanatic vs statesman. Congress hasn't been able to get anything done because there are too few who even remember the word statesman much less its definition. When will America once again understand that reasonable people can reasonably disagree without wallowing in the sewer.

    February 6, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  13. Woman In California

    I didn't see the commercial but I know where there are republicans – there are racists. Look no further.

    February 6, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  14. Voice of Reason

    So – in the long run, a blue Senate seat will stay blue. 'Cause no one in their right mind will now vote for this guy.

    Chalk it up to the same non-reality-mentality that brought us 'anchor babies', 'moon base becoming 51st state', 'I can see Russia from my house', 'death panels', 'where's the birth certificate?', 'the president is a kenyan/socialist/marxist/communist/whatever', etc. The list of delusions goes on and on. And while they absolutely strain credulity, and offend at every turn, clueless politicians like Hoekstra say things like, "I was just trying to spark the conversation...".

    I guess they are living according to their core GOP principle: Repeat a lie long enough, and you start to believe it.

    February 6, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  15. luckydog

    republicans–the party of old white men

    February 6, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    A man should pull himself up by his own bootstraps, that's what makes a real man. To belittle others is not the trait of a real man but that of a very insecure and incompetent individual.

    February 6, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  17. Noodle Nose Johnson

    The end result of this ad will be nothing. People who are inclined to vote for a troglodyte like Hoekstra won't see anything wrong with it, while those of us with the requisite amount of chromosomes would never consider Hoekstra a viable candidate to begin with.

    February 6, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  18. cody

    Actually, I thought the woman spoke better english than most other asian people I know.

    February 6, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  19. tefera

    We all know that GOP's are full of hate towards Blacks,Asians,etc. so what is the big deal. If someone hates you, bless him and ignor his idea. Vote for the one that represents your values and the issue you care about.

    February 6, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  20. whitmanguy

    Of course the commercial is racist! It is amazing that even the Republican Party could allow something so blatant to go to air all over the nation. Shame!

    February 6, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  21. Tony

    The actress spoke "unaccented but broken" English, so she spoke broken English on purpose. This ad shows that Republicans do everything badly, even propaganda.

    February 6, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  22. Tom

    Yep, if American Gov't would only spend less money than US Corps like Apple would definitely keep jobs here instead of paying Foxconn works less than a $1 an hour to work countless hours and live in company dorms. Right. I see the connection. Just cut the deficit, cut social funding, cut regulations, and give corps a bigger tax break so we can bring those jobs (and working/living conditions) to the U.S. Great idea!

    February 6, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  23. James Kruk

    Very classic "Yellow Peril". Man, this is making me nostalgic for all those xenophobic World War II propaganda posters.

    February 6, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  24. GI Joe

    Hoekstra has been a thug all his life. This just adds another name to call him.

    February 6, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Not all Republicans are racists, but most racists are Republican. Peter Hoekstra is a straight-up racist. Michigan should be embarrassed by him.

    February 6, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
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