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. Desmond Sequeira

    Murttha's remarks were plain simple idiotic and probably should cost him his seat. But he represents ONLY HIMSELF.
    However, is it not PATHETIC that the REPUBLICANS have nothing else to run on? Tanks empty!

    October 28, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  2. Veterans 4 Obama

    Question: How the heck is Ted Stevens going to be able to vote in the senate? According to the LAW convicted felons are NOT able to vote!!

    October 28, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. Wil Welsh

    The RNC wasted a gazillion dollars trying to unseat PA congressmen by funneling cash into the past 2 races in PA. They are going to waste their money yet again.

    Many people in the area would take being called racist as a compliment. The attack ads may play well to a shocked national audience, but in town it's a non-issue & jack's going to wipe the floor with his opponent despite the gaffe.

    October 28, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  4. James

    Duck, here comes the kitchen sink!

    Watch out, the toilet is next (since it is closest to the gutter).

    Thanks Republicans for making us all look forward to Jan '09 that much more.

    October 28, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. Thrasher

    I'm sure glad I'm not the only one that realized this artical had nothing to do with the presidential campaign. (sarcasm)

    Murtha is a moron, how do you expect your constituents to react to you calling them names like that? He should get removed by a landslide. Lazy people vote for the incumbant just because they know their name. I think it is completely legitemate that Russell is using Murtha's comments against him, the comments show how much he cares about his "redneck and racist constituents", a group of people he supposedly lives among.

    October 28, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. Phoenix

    I want to laugh at the hypocrisy of the GOP. Yes, Murtha's comment should not have been made. Guess what, neither should the comments about "Kill Him," or "Terrorist." I will get offended when I hear more offense over the Palin rallies.

    October 28, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  7. LaJuan

    it's true and the country knows it

    whatever go away mcain,palin,bush and all other racist politicians.

    so sad but true!!!

    October 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  8. prettygreenbird

    It's true that some U.S. soldiers have killed civilians in cold blood in Iraq. I don't think that that is the majority, but it is something that needs to be acknowledged if we are to be considered a civilized society.

    October 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  9. April

    Let's be clear-He said something that he shouldn't have. But racism still exists.
    Julie is right.
    It's just that he chose a really bad time to say this. McCain is continuously using fear to try and substantiate his claim that Obama is inexperienced. It is a desperate ploy and everyone who doesn't realize that McCain is dancing around the issues is as blind as a bat.

    October 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  10. common sense 4u2

    Poor desperate GOP,grasping at everything

    October 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  11. Georgia for Obama

    Ok Mccain what the different when McCain did not support MLK birthday holiday McCain went against MLK birthday and his state the only one dont support MLK birthday McCain are you a racist

    October 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  12. John in NE

    I think instead of chosing sides in this election we should understand that in order for us to have change we need to elect neither of them although that is not possible it is the only answer. Both parties are controlled by greed. If you think your candidate is not about him/her you are crazy. The only positive thing in all this is that a person of color might be in our highest office.

    October 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  13. nelda

    Republicans continue to use fear as their way to get the American vote.
    Why is it that this is the ONLY way they function? They have no real answers for Americans and they know that Obama does. So they want to instill fear and divert attention away from themselves from not answering solutions.

    We need to run away from this type of politics. We've had this for 8 years. We need a REAL CHANGE for a better future. Obama is clearly the one who will "build us the bridge to nowhere".

    Just this past Sunday, on Meet the Press, McCain finally said " Bush and I have the same way of thinking" when he responded to " why he voted 92% of the time with Bush. Boy,..do we want more of the same?

    October 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  14. Kelby from Houston, TX

    The man knows his electorate. If he believes his his constituents are racicsts, it's probably because he's met them and they have conveyed racist points of view. He's white, they don't hate him. But you think it's wrong that he points out the reason they are not voting for his candidate?
    Can we keep it real? Just for a minute?
    Racism is alive and well in America.
    Black people have gotten over this fact...YOUR TURN!

    October 28, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  15. Mikel

    This is all the Republicans got left? That they don't like hearing the truth? Hell, we already knew that.

    Number one, Marines did kill innocent civilians in Haditha. And that incident's not the only time, either and undoubtedly not the last.

    Number two, Murtha ought to know if there are redneck racists living in his state. He's only confirming the obvious.

    October 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  16. Chris

    too bad his statement was accurate, have any of you ever been in the Pittsburgh area? The racism is so thick you can cut it with a knife, racial epithets are apart of everyday vocabulary WITHIN the city

    October 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  17. The truth Hurts

    Murtha probably should have not voiced what he said but it is the truth any how!! You just can't just act like racism don't exist because with those two skin heads yesterday plotting to black students and Obama is real!!!

    October 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  18. Mike, Texas

    Response to a previous comment.

    JUST WAIT!!!!!!

    Definitely not Palin and her grandpa!..Hahahaha

    October 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  19. js

    Yeah, a lot of pennsylvanians are racist. I spent 23 years of my life there. Are they more racist in western PA than in NYC? Sure. Will it affect the vote there? Yes. Since when did the republicans get so PC?

    October 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. GenPatton

    Murtha needs to go. The O needs to go. They are the racists.

    Not that CNN will post this, but anyway, I feel better for typing it.

    October 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  21. The Fab One

    Just like the GOP. Rehash yesterday's news and hope it tastes like a freshly cooked meal. Instead of Jack Murtha, they should worry about Mistress Sarah, the Jane 6-Pack crusader with the $150K clothing bill. Just like a woman. McCain spent all that money on her and didn't even get a kiss goodnight!! ha ha ha

    GO OBAMA!!!!

    October 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  22. Moe, NY

    This is old news. The GOP/RNC should target Stevens for not stepping down after being found guilty. This man is continuing to run for the Senate. Now, I as you, what is wrong with that picture?

    October 28, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  23. ....

    It's the truth.

    October 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  24. david Armendale, SF, CA

    Murtha wins the prize for making patently true but ill-timed, knuckle-headed comments. He's in a tight race with Biden in that regard. But even with all of the ham-handedness on the part of the Dems in the last week, they still win hands down by comparison to the McCain/Palin camps' lack of message discipline.

    October 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  25. No McPain

    How about the race baiting story of Ashley Todd? How about inciting their crowds to shout "kill him" and saying nothing. How about their crowds carrying Curious George monkeys with Obama stickers on them. The GOP make me sick.

    October 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10