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. Terrell of Escondido Ca.

    It was another senior moment for another senior politician. Highly regrettable though in an election year, Especially as it comes from a Democratic supporter of Senator Obama. Having said that though, I am of the mind that the Senator does indeed understand the mindset of his constituients.

    October 28, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  2. Gene

    Wow.. I'm really shocked! I'm really shocked that McCain hasn't blamed Obama for Murtha's comments 🙂

    Now the other side of the coin... being that I live part time just outside of Pittsburgh... I will have to agree that the older generation in Pittsburgh predominantly is racist. Not all of course.. but many that I know are. Murtha is just one of the few that actually has the guts to tell the truth.

    October 28, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. docrock,lewisville,tx

    Wow....kettle...pot...But we all know that the GOP would NEVER disenfranchise voters,don't we?I mean they are too busy labeling Mr.Obama is a Socialist.Of course,this occured right after the Government socialized the Banking/Financial industry.What,you haven't recieved your dividend check yet?Not to worry,it's in the mail!!

    October 28, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. Jay C.

    Well, isnt that ironic that they are trying to spark another negative ad on republicans side. When will they learn? That sparking hate and inciting fear wont work on getting McCain elected? If GOP really wants to turn this mess around that they created, fix the problem. Then you can talk about some non-sense issue that no one cares about.

    btw, western Pennyslyvania is RACIST. As an asian-american, I've seen first and how hostile it is to color-americans down there.

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

    this has nothing to do with Obama his half white/ half white.. soo and what?? gop crooks

    October 28, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  6. Cathy Brandes

    I can't believe this is still being discussed. You would think by now the GOP would have figured out the negativity does not work.

    October 28, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  7. surprised??

    THE DISGRACEFULL REPUGNANTS.....lets get rid of them in Congress starting with the stevens guy in the senate.....enough of their corrupt ways....mc c and palin should follow..pair of LIARS

    October 28, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  8. bill

    cnn you shouldnt be posting this stuff.god knows if you want to help americans you dont need to be nitpicking.murtha there is plenty of slime out there coming out of mcbush palens mouth.one alaskin convicted another about to be.WHERE IS THE REPORTING ON PALENS DEPOSITION.

    October 28, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. Latina-Indepedent-4-OBAMA



    October 28, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. rafael

    winter is coming i!m thinking that the monies that Mcain is expending
    with this commercial should better give the money to Palin so she could by more expense clothes specially winter clothes and two new
    snowmobile for her and her husband,what a waste of monies my friends.
    montreal canada

    October 28, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  11. lindapuma

    Why is this agaist him? Every reporter that goes to rual PA and rural anywhere runs into people saying things like "I just can't vote for a colored" How shameless to use this as an attack ad when they know its true! PIGS AND LIAR are all the Republicans have to offer!

    October 28, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  12. Debby

    Good what Murtha has been saying is dispicable.

    October 28, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  13. KLEE

    well theres a little "redneck" everywhere in this country – which keeps life mighty interesting – its just when you mix in bigotry & blind hatred on any level that it gets so "frustrating"! – i feel very fortunate that i have lived with and worked with people from all ethnic backgrounds and see the potential everywhere if someone is given a chance – even this little redneck girl (as my husband sometimes says when i get hot under the collar about some injustice in the world) – VOTE OBAMA/BIDEN 2008

    October 28, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  14. CARMEN

    republicans are really scared now.!they do not have a chance not this time.democrats are going to win this one for sure.god bless obama and his family.

    October 28, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. mb

    The GOP has done more than enough damage with this racial stuff. They need to move on and prayerfully the people will ignore this. That money they could have put to better use, I am sure someplace else.

    October 28, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. Still for Hill, but voting McCain

    People in PA must be really hurting economically.

    They are going to vote for people who have the audacity to call them racist, bitter, and clinging to guns and religion.

    If I were a PA voter, I would go out and vote for the other party. But, I guess the white guilt thing is working for Obama.

    I have no white guilt, because I'm not racist... All the blacks on here blogging can get over themselves. Plain and simple: I don't believe in socialism, that's not what made this country great.

    It's funny how all these "intellectuals" state they have read Obama's books...

    Did you happen to miss the part where Obama stated he delibrately hung out with Markist professors?

    Here's praying for a miracle. McCain/Palin 08

    October 28, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. Democrat voting for McCain

    What?!! This story about Murtha's big mouth and racism actually got released BEFORE the election? What is the mainstream media thinking?! Before you know it, we might even learn in future elections that a candidate ... let's say, Obama ... is a Socialist OR WORSE before the election instead of after it when it's too late.

    October 28, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. Gene

    Hey.. I thought McCain couldn't agree with him more? 🙂

    That must have been the funniest moment of the campaign.. watching McCain stutter until he finally managed to blurt out that W. Pennsylvanians were the most patriotic people on the planet... and then the crowd roared lol

    October 28, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  19. Ryan

    Having grown up in Western PA, it's surprising to me that the redneck comment is such a big issue. Many people that I know from that area still proudly label themselves as rednecks.

    As for the racism comments, I guess they should crucify him for speaking the realities of the area. I still hear reports through my parents, and have heard with my own ears when I've visited, of many comments that are quite racial with regards to Obama's candidacy.

    Lastly, though not great for the rest of the US, Murtha does know how to bring federal benefits back to his constituents.

    October 28, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. Rick

    Murtha should have been thrown in jail years ago for bribery. He should have been thrown out a couple of years ago for calling our troops "cold-blooded murderers". But, as is the tradition of the democrat party, he gets re-elected just like Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, Gerry Studds, Marion Berry, William Jefferson, etc., etc., etc.....all of whom broke the law and should have been in prison but instead were re-elected.

    The democrat party....liars, thiefs, con-men and clowns.

    October 28, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. kayla


    October 28, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  22. Vic

    Registered Republican "voted" Obama/Biden 08.

    Go Democrats!

    October 28, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  23. The BOTTOM Line..........


    October 28, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  24. CTSadler

    Does it really matter anymore? McCain needs to save his reputation, his run for president is over.

    October 28, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  25. Rich from Philly

    Well–probably not the best way for Murtha to say it, but does accurately reflect McCain strategy of trying to rile up the white folk. All the socialist and redistribution BS is code for takin' your hard earned money and givin' it to the welfare queen who has a Cadillac. This is notwithstanding that 7 out of 10 people on welfare are white.

    October 28, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
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