October 28th, 2008
06:32 PM ET
14 years ago

GOP targets Murtha over 'racist' comment

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/28/art.murtha.cnn.jpg caption="A new ad targets Murtha's comments."](CNN) - The National Republican Campaign Committee is using some of its scarce resources to target one of the most senior Democrats in the House–Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania. A new campaign commercial released today uses video clips of Murtha’s recent comments about his Western Pennsylvania district being "a racist area" and "redneck."

The ad also includes a clip from a news conference where Murtha talks about civilians killed in Haditha, Iraq in 2005, saying U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood." The ad ends by saying "Enough."

In an interview Oct. 15 with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Murtha predicted Sen. Barack Obama would win the state of Pennsylvania, but said that there was some hesitancy among voters in the western party of state, including the district he represents.

The paper posted video of the interview on its website, with Murtha saying, "There's no question Western Pennsylvania is a racist area." Murtha apologized the next day, but Republicans seized on the remarks. Days later in an interview with a local television station, Murtha said his district years ago was “really redneck.”

The comments were heavily circulated to such a degree that last weekend's episode of Saturday Night Live also included a spoof of Murtha's remarks.

Under campaign finance law the NRCC is allowed to contribute up to $84,000 in "coordinated funds" to an individual campaign. Murtha's challenger is William Russell, an Iraq war veteran. Russell authorized the ad.

A recent poll by Susquehanna University released last Thursday showed the race tightening with Murtha ahead by just four points, and Republicans feel they have an opportunity in an otherwise bleak environment to challenge the high profile Democrat.

Ken Spain, spokesman for the NRCC , said, "John Murtha has called American soldiers cold blooded killers and the voters of his district racists and rednecks. By doing so, he has besmirched the reputation of the voters he claims to represent and turned himself into a national embarrassment in the process."

Meanwhile, Murtha spokesman Matt Mazonkey said, “If Republican William Russell wants to accept help from George Bush that’s his choice, we choose to talk about the issues that matter in this campaign – and I think the voters know the difference between a mouthpiece of the Bush Administration and Mr. Murtha, who is fighting hard for the people of Western Pennsylvania.”

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also tells CNN that the DCCC has paid for an ad criticizing Russell that will begin running later this week.

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soundoff (228 Responses)

    John McCain SPREADS AMERICA'S WEALTH TO FLDS polygamists in Colorado City, Arizona who practice tyranny over women and children and receive 25-30 million a year in taxpayer dollars.
    Watch the video:

    October 28, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. JL

    Oh, come ON! This story is old news and by using it the McCain camp looks desperate.

    October 28, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Julie

    This man does speak for Obama. This is not Obama's voice this is an old man who has been in that position too long....what he said may indeed be accuarate but as a politician you just don't say it out loud!!

    October 28, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. JD in Moraga, CA

    hmm...just sounds like a certain group is trying to protect its seats in Congress through the same negative campaigning that's worked so well for John and Sarah so far...

    October 28, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. Latino Vote for Obama


    Back in February of this year a reporter asked Mccain about Latinos. Mccain replied "They are good for manual labor." The reporter then asked "Is that all?" Mccain smiled and turned away from the reporter who didn't have a camera but he filmed it on his cell phone that is why mccain didn't think he was live. Very interesting to know what mccain thinks of Latinos.

    John McCain IS one of the racist people that Murtha was talking about.

    October 28, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. Ex-Republican for Obama

    as an Ex-Republican, let me just give you a little in-sight:

    the GOP is EXTREMELY racist. Everything to them is based on skin color, including the right to vote, as we are witnessing with their attempts to disenfranchise voters in the battleground states.

    October 28, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. McCain on the Attack

    McCain is now attacking Palin and she is the one that has helped him the most. Lets show McCain we don't like him attack a woman in his own failed campaign and vote Bob Barr. McCain no good for attacking Palin.

    October 28, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    I actually don't care for Murtha that much and believe this is one instance of Dems not shutting up when they need to. The last thing that Obama needs is some rouge Dem like Murtha going off message like this!

    October 28, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. craig

    It's true, and I am white guy saying this.

    October 28, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. please

    If marines did kill civilians in cold blood, why is this bad to say? I know republicans refuse to admit when they are wrong (see Palin, McCain, Stevens, etc.), but can someone explain this to me?

    Now, if the Marines killed enemy combatants, and Murtha was wrong about who was killed, that is one thing. But coming out and saying what they did was wrong (if it was) is the honorable thing to do.

    October 28, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  11. Diana Ewing NJ

    Agreed comment were bad from him..... but they are being talked about by McCain/Palin, because that is how they campaign.... They don't run on their own issues because no one would want them.. so it is planting fear and hate they run on

    October 28, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. Mike

    If the bra fits...

    October 28, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. Natasha in tally

    Takes one to know one GOP
    Obama 08

    October 28, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  14. Vegas

    I'm sure he didn't mean the way it sounded... however it was a pretty dumb thing to say...

    It's a shame that if you don't support Obama you get labled... even if your reasons are his liberal platform... I didn't vote for Carter... but it had nothing to do with his race.

    October 28, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. Rick

    This bloated gasbag needs to be thrown out of office ASAP.

    October 28, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. Kevin from Atlanta

    If McCain can't even keep control over his own campaign, how can the American people believe that he will handle the pressure of being President?

    October 28, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. mitch

    old news. noone cares. keep trying to divide us, gop. ur party is collapsing in front of ur eyes and you deserve it for dividing our once great nation. you broke it! now ,get out of the way so we can fix it!

    October 28, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. Jeff, Oregon

    Let me guess. The GOP would like you to believe that Murtha's comments are another reflection of Obama's judgment?

    Come on... what kind of fools do they take us for? Can't wait for this election to be over. McCain obviously has no vision if he has to rely on this "six degrees of Barack Obama" attack campaign to get his point across. I just hope the rest of the country sees through the BS.

    October 28, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. tulsa

    Adds that constantly tries to divide us is why we need change so bad. Right now when things are at there worst is the time we should all come together and build a stronger American, not the GOP its wants to build a big division.

    October 28, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. Ricky the Griff

    Wow. Talk about desperation from the GOP.

    It's over folks for John McCain and his party of theives and liars.

    The last one to leave, please turn off the lights.

    October 28, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. Edmund

    Murtha has no defense. Imagine if he said this about a predominantly black region. He has no defense. Anyone who defends him is a racist, plain and simple.

    October 28, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    He was just telling the truth – I have cousins there that use the N-word constantly in a very derogatory way.

    Don't punish honesty. Punish the power-abusing, lying, stealing politicians in the republican party.

    October 28, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. Semper Fi

    Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, is a disgrace to his office and The Marine Corps. This speaks to having no term limits in Congress and The Senate.

    October 28, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  24. Desperate Times...

    I guess desperate times call for desperate measures for the GOP! Can NEVER focus on the issues or what THEY will do for the country – they only focus on attacking the opponent. Enough is enough!
    OBAMA 08!!!

    October 28, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  25. Show Your Real Colors

    Okay, western Pennsylvania . . . instead of getting peeved at Murtha . . . show he was wrong. Don't base your votes on either candidate's racial background. And look deep inside about this, because human capacity for self-deception is large.

    October 28, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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