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.

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. McBride, SLC, UT

    This is the sleaziest campaign I have ever seen. Shame on you John McCain. You are no way a Great American as some say you are.

    October 28, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. Frank

    Gee, I wonder why there are so many attacks by the Republicans against the dems? Is it because they can't beat them on the issues affecting this country? Like Obama says, if they can't beat us on the issues then they have no choice but to scare you about me.

    October 28, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. Voted Early

    And old can't remember much this days John McCain said at a rally ' And I couldn't agree more ' with Obama and everyone that said PA was racist jajaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

    October 28, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. Will

    This proves how stupid McCain's strategists are. Murtha is well loved in PA and they are attacking him. Which moron came up with this brilliant idea? McCain is wasting time and a lot of money in PA. He simply cannot win the state. In fact, McCain needs to just go silent and bank what money he has left. The election is over and all that is left is to hope that the probable Democratic landslide doesn't happen.

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

    Wow, you are so biased. Did Murtha call anyone a racist or not? How about older people being rednecks? Yes or No? You are too much. American people are tuning you out more and more. Get in line with the LA Times because you will be laying off reporters also.

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

    WE need every true pacifist to come out for Murtha and send those bible-thumpin, pistol packing rednecks back into the woods to neck with their sisters. Once Obama wins, then we can do something about those guns–redneck racists should not be allowed to possess firearms, and the bitter, resentful racists of western PA should be disarmed and made to read the New York Times before being allowed to vote.

    October 28, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  7. Stokie

    US soldiers have killed Iraqi civilians in cold blood. Some have been tried and convicted. The truth hurts sometimes. Murtha is a brave man for saying it.

    October 28, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  8. Chelsea

    Republicans are carving a very bad reputation for themselves – dividiing the country instead of uniting it. God Bless Anerica!

    October 28, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  9. mayah

    Palin admits she is a REDNECK, the world saw her say it at one of her rally, so let the truth be told , did he lie?

    October 28, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  10. Nicholas

    Why are people upset about this? Has anyone actually been to the area he is referring too? As a person of color, I can tell you it ain't exactly friendly. There are always exceptions and no not all the people there are like that, but yes, there is racism where he is talking about.

    October 28, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  11. Douglas, Los Angeles California

    What about the hate speeches coming from the McCain/Palin pulpits? How could we ever forget the "kill him" comments. Those comments are a result of their speeches.

    October 28, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  12. tiredofher

    Well, I think what Murtha said is probably true, and I say "so what" I'm still not voting Republican again.

    October 28, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  13. Theresa

    They're tossing the kitchen sink. Whoever said it, whoever wrote it, whatever sticks... The Republican party is a complete joke. THEY are the ones who got us where we are. Do we want to keep moving in the same direction? Think about THAT when you go vote.

    October 28, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  14. kinglywarrior

    If you are not willing to speak out against one of your OWN PARTY'S employees for doing what they did (That Todd girl)...then you have no credibility to call anyone else out for actions you see as racist....but then, you had no credibility way before that.

    October 28, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. OBAMA 4 President

    Offcourse, why is this surprising. Repuglicans don't have an agenda to run on, so they latch onto distractions. This man has graphically described his own constituency as racist rednecks, if it is not true and they don't like it, they can vote him out of office. END OF STORY!

    October 28, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. Olegringo, NM

    Murtha is atypical of many in congress whose stupid remarks have been conveniently overlooked by his constituents.

    October 28, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  17. Kris in AL

    I can't believe a "crook" like Murtha is still in office.

    After his....maybe we can do business later.....comment to the ABSCAM folks, it is amazing that PA voters put him back in office, over and over and over.

    October 28, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. Edwina

    There was a front page story here in St. Petersburg, Florida about the fact that many people in Western, PA have an issue with the fact that Barack Obama is uppidty and arrogant (code for he does not know his place). But, at the end of the day, they also knew who would be more likely to help them out and it surely was not the GOP. Neither of the women in the picture I saw looked like the type to spend $150K on new clothes or even a new house.

    The people of Western, PA may not have liked Murtha putting them out there like that, but I believe they recognize their challenges and embrace the fact they are ready for change and then, they may actually change with the times. People speak their feelings, but vote their pocket books. I hope Murtha runs a commercial reminding his constituents that Buchanan and Palin consider them 'un-American' for not traditionally voting Republican.

    October 28, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  19. Marko

    Just more desperate moves from a drained, thoughtless and rundown party of the past, with only ideas from the past. They need an overhaul.

    October 28, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  20. Jeez

    But McCain agreed with him 😉

    October 28, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |

    Why is it bad for this white man to tell the truth? It probably is a racist redneck hatred city. White people need to come to grips with their racism, and what gets me is that its mostly POOR white people who have the nerve to hate blacks. Everyone has to answer to God for good or bad, not judgeing just stating facts. McCain is a racist and so is Pailn they just dirty as hell and I don't like them not one bit. It has nothing to do with him been a klan it's more so that he is promoting hate and division.


    October 28, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  22. bob

    He is not Obama...give it a rest!

    October 28, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  23. Independent woman voter

    This story is worthless to the issues. I see people hurting everyday from the economy.

    October 28, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  24. Gracie

    OH PUH-LEEZE... coming from a bunch of WHITE BIGOTS in the GOP who can't stand the fact that their era of CROOKS are finally coming to and end. George W. Bush started this ball rolling with his sidekick Chenney. They were nothing but GREEDY and CORRUPT and they make a mockery of the Justice Department and the Laws of the Land.


    well it's coming around.....

    October 28, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  25. vahe

    John you are one of them what are you talking about???!!!

    October 28, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
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