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. One America

    Does the GOP sit around every night and say "What can we say to tick people off tomorrow"? Their campaign has become a joke, and they WILL NOT win. Americans are too smart.

    One America, including ALL of PA. The GOP will not win in their dirty, dispicable tactics. They won't.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. Jack

    Murtha is an insult to our troops even if once he was a Marine. He called them cold blooded murders without any facts and even though the Marines were aquitted of all charges he has never apologized. I would be shocked if he is reelected. 36 years of self service in the gov't is too much for anyone.
    Semper Fi

    October 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. Al

    Comments such as this are not unusual from John Murtha.

    Shame on his constituents if the vote him back to DC.

    October 28, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. Pablo

    I'm from Paraguay but I've been following this election season since January 3. And I don't know why, but I always see Barbara – 65 yr old white female in NC posting a comment in the Ticker. And I actually got to read her opinions with as much interest as the article. I just want to congratulate you, lady. I hope I get to be as much involved in politics as you when I get your age. And you have proved me that there's no race, no state, no age, no sex that matters in this election. You're an independent thinker, and cheers to that. You can honestly say you have a fan in the South (America).

    October 28, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. UnBiased Common Sense

    I'm kind of curious. . . . . . . . .

    Do the people in Murtha's district consider themselves to be racists?

    Or, are they racists but do not like to be called racists?

    Are they even racists at all???

    Point is, shouldn't we only care about Murtha's comment if it was false and had no basis???? Because if it is true, what's wrong with a little honesty from a politician? Wouldn't that be considered a breath of fresh air???

    Someone needs to poll Murtha's district.

    October 28, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. Joey Fritts

    Murtha has earned the right to speak. Bless him for his courage.

    October 28, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  7. Is he really all black???

    Amazing how a man born to a white women can be treated with such hate. They say that they are Christian and yet such hate... I am glad that I believe in Islam a religion that teaches hate is a sin and that we all are children of Adam and Eve. I am so proud to have raised my children in such away. I pray God Almighty has mercy on these sinners, for sure it will come to face them soon enough. Yes we will all answer for our hate. Don't think your forgiveness is really your path to heaven, God is not stupid.
    Jesus taught love and peace and God is his witness.

    October 28, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  8. vince

    the gop is nothing but hate can these people look in the mirror and actually feel good about themself they clam to be so religous but there scum i guess they are reserving there space in hell ya i said it hell oh im sure they will repent sunday like they do every sunday ask forgiveness (lol) your all still going to hell idiots

    October 28, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  9. Obama is a smooth talking car salesman

    I am happy to see EX-republican. If you vote for this ragtag democratic team of a no experience do nothing suit, and a bumbling Joe Biden, you never were republican and good riddance.. No self respecting Republican would vote for the most left legislator in the Senate 2007.

    October 28, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  10. beachgirl

    Republicans are and always will be racists, including McCain who said during his campaign that LATINOS ARE GOOD FOR MANUAL LABOR!

    People.........do you ever see in the audience a black person? or a bunch of latinos? or a group of asian people??? NOOOOOOOOP

    Republicans are a bunch of prejudice WHITE PEOPLE who look DOWN on everyone else!


    October 28, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  11. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Hey Murtha is no more racist than obama's supporters. The Africans are the racists. Since they are going for one of their own by a huge percentage.

    If white people would do that, Obama would lose and lose big time. Not a bad idea.

    I am color blind but am upset how the merest criticism of Obama is termed racist.

    I say give me a break

    October 28, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  12. Bill

    Murtha is a jerk. He's been in long enough.

    October 28, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  13. NoMcSame

    Let the truth be told no matter what the cost. As Obama said until we get it out and talk about it nothing will be done. The people in that area know what they are so let them speak up on it. What is wrong when we all have to sugar coat everything. We are adults and should be able to handle the truth. Let's learn to DEAL WITH IT SO THAT WE CAN MOVE ON. Obama/Biden08 PLEASE

    October 28, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  14. Stef

    I think the Gop ticket has shown more racism than anyone. Democrats are not the ones who are ploting to kill McCain, or shouting racist remarks at rallies. There is a stark difference in both campaigns. One campaign has shown leadership and unity, while the other campaign has shown hatred and divisiness. The Republican party is unbelieveable. McCain-Palin ticket have not bothered to reach out to African Americans at all, while Obama- Biden have reached out to everyone. I'm proud of the way he and his campaign has handled themselves in election in unifying this country in bringing all people together as one. I commend all people of different races who are voting for Obama because of his policy and not because of his skin color. We all are created equal in the sight of God, not by man.

    October 28, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  15. VTX13CNJ

    If being against Obama is racist, I gues I am a racist.

    October 28, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  16. Paula

    Do they think this will make us forget about Palin's "abuse of power" and that she HAS NOT turned over medical records yet! What is she hiding????????

    October 28, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  17. DB25

    Um, there are racist people all over the PLANET people. And to think that they don't exist in rural America, you need to have your head examined. People just don't like hearing the truth!

    October 28, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  18. voter

    I don't see Murtha's comment has being wrong. Realistically, there might be some people who will not vote for Obama because he is bi-racial. It is ignorant for the republicans to refute Murtha's comments. I believe it is more damaging of the republicans to label certain states as patriotic or democrats as communist.

    October 28, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  19. Rob

    This is a red herring. What do average, hard-working voters care about what Rep. Murtha said when making their decision to vote for much needed change? To vote their way out of the failed policies of the last 8 years? Don't be misled by a last, desperate ploy of smoke and mirrors from the inept spinmasters who run McCain's campaign. I hear on the news they also ran Bush's last campaign. But voters are wiser now, aren't they?

    October 28, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  20. Lucy

    What if everything that you ever knew about a place like western Pennsylvania is true? What if you happened to say something that is politically incorrect? What if it were actually a fact that this place has a largely racist constituency? News Flash: THERE ARE A LOT OF RACIST PEOPLE ALL OVER THE US. Get over it McLame and McMoosie. Give it up, you are toast.
    I am popping several corks on Nov 04, the most important one is RACISM IS OVER.


    October 28, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. Jeff Brown

    Next Tuesday, the GOP will get the boot that they so richly deserve!!!!!

    October 28, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  22. ChrisParks, Buffalo NY

    Let's see if a lid stays on how Palin's house got built!! Sarah should be the next to ask to step down.

    October 28, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |

    The only thing more frightening then Murtha's comments are some of the comments made here and how biased you are at "grouping" western Pa into a certain category. I have lived here my entire 40 years and have traveled all across this country..we are no different than anywhere else. If you have "family" that is racist that live here..to say that all of the rest of us our racist too just shows your ignorance. Every state has racists as every country does...you don't throw the baby out with the bath water...puhlease.

    October 28, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. az voter

    Did you say scarce resources or scare resources ? We've seen lots of RNC scare money over the past eight years.

    I would think that if Rep. Murtha is the Congressional Representative from that part of Pennsylvania he should be pretty well informed.

    I live in a big city and with out a doubt I know which part of town not to go into late at night.

    Aren't you all equally well informed about your home turf?

    October 28, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  25. Scott L






    October 28, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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