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. WTH


    October 28, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  2. OPAL

    Didn't Joe McCain, brother of Senator McCain say something similar?
    HMMM, the Democrats can run ads on all the: real Americans vs not real Americans, Anti-american, etc, but they want to stick to the ISSUES AT HAND! Unfortunately, it's not only the Republican Presidential Campaign showing desperation but the entire "GOP." People, I believe we have good Republican representatives and they are being labeled/represented in an unfair way. You Republicans who do not like what is being said and done, STAND UP and tell your GOP they are discrediting all you who have worked so hard for where we are at and what you have achieved.

    Although I'm voting Democrat, not all Republicans agree with the course of this election and what is happening!

    October 28, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. TexicoFrom Mexico

    Murtha and McCain have one thing in common.

    They are both racist!

    Does everyone know that David Duke (a well known racist) was a guest at McCains church in Arizona? Hmmm...and McCain voted against a Dr. King day......is it just me or............................well you fill in the rest.

    October 28, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. Who needs Facts

    I cannot believe that more people are not appalled by what Mr. Murtha said. There is certainly a double standard rising in America. Say whatever you want about whites, that's ok, but never say anything about anyone else, that's racism and intolerance. Now if Obama doesn't get elected it's automatically because he is black. If a white man was to say that Obama is doing well in the south only because the blacks are voting ( redneck is a much worse term), that would be racist- what is the difference?
    In response to "please" 5:39pm : What if I were to say Barack Obama beating his wife, now that is a bad thing. I'd be right in saying that wife beating is wrong? (Whether he does or not)

    October 28, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  5. james in s.c.

    murtha is telling the truth, even though he appologize, but i know how he feels. he is just sick of a divided country, we all need to unite!!!


    October 28, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  6. Billiam

    "On his MySpace page, Schlesselman lists his occupation as “being racist” and writes “I’m white. I’m proud. I get angry. I like guns."
    I guess Obama was wrong about the anger and guns

    October 28, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  7. Stu-Florida

    Check his age... he's from an era where racism was prevelant.
    There is, unfortunately, many bogots in this country. It doesn't have to be about color, either. This is why we desperately need CHANGE!!
    We need to be UNITED, as in States of America, No color, no age, no ethnic background, no geographic location, etc. Let's finally get UNITED! It's the only way for our survival and standing in the world again!!
    O is the way to go!

    October 28, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  8. Lauren independent voter California

    The mccain campaign is truly disgusting. They plan on continuing the same policies as bush which is why they don't want to talk about the issues.

    They only want to fear and smear. Truly disgusting. Also, why are they calling for ted stevens to step down? they did not call for palin to step down after she was found to have abused her power? She was found guily as well. The republicans are all crooks and criminals.

    October 28, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  9. You Only Get One Vote

    Have you ever thougt about the fact that whites have a right to vote for or against Obama because he's black? Heck, if I wanted to vote for John McCain because I like men with white hair, that would be MY REASON, and nobody else's.

    I'm African American and let's face it, you don't have to dislike Barack because he's black, you can dislike him because he's tall. Let people vote for whomever they want to vote for, and for whatever reason.

    I'm voting for Barack because I think he's the better candidate and that's MY REASON. You only get one vote people, stop trying to read people's minds and make them feel guilty because they're not voting for who you want them to vote for. Let them make up their own minds.

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

    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." -Edmund Burke

    Call 'em like you see 'em Murtha. Let the rest of these apologists either support the pockets of racism in this country or, perhaps even worse, pretend they don't exist and fail to do anything about it. Nothing was more discouraging on this web page than seeing people say "he's right, but probably shoudln't have said it." We SHOULD say it. We should scream it in peoples' faces that we intend for racism in our society to die.

    October 28, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. Mark

    Dear GOP, on my way to early voting I saw a straw in the middle of a field.


    Grasp that straw! Quick, quick!

    Congratulations, you are losing.

    October 28, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  12. vern

    Rep.Murtha was simply stating the truth........Western Pennsylvanians are racist towards black people,unless they play football...LOL

    October 28, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. Sam, Menlo Park

    If the shoe fits – WEAR IT. US Soldiers HAVE killed unarmed civilians in Iraq. THAT IS A FACT. Unlike the WMD that were supposed to be the reason we were there killing unarmed civilians.

    October 28, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  14. Clear

    Economy is perhaps the most important issue of this election. Obama tried to tie Bush and McCain together for the blame of the current economic crisis. McCain said that he is not Bush. The main reason for Bush’s failure was his big tax cut plus irresponsible overspending. McCain wants to provide relieve for business and investments, but to drastically cut back the federal spending. So McCain is not Bush. Actually Obama’s policy has the same flaw as Bush’s. It calls for big tax break and expanded social and civil programs. The difference is that Obama wants to take money from the rich and giving it to the poor. He said that this is not socialism, but the American way. Do you agree? More explicitly, under Obama plan, more people who do not pay taxes will receive increased refunds. His policy of spreading the money is like the old Chinese saying “killing the chicken to get the egg”. It would kill our economy, if he is elected.

    October 28, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. So What?

    Who cares if $150k is spent on Gov. Palins wardrobe, hair and make-up; what do you think the budget will be to try and straighten Michelle Obama's hair on a regular basis?

    October 28, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  16. OBIDEN all the wayyyyyyyyyyy!!!

    The GOP should give it up already! Goodness!!! must every ad point a flaw/ attack???

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008!!


    October 28, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  17. Greg Hodges

    I will not defend Murtha`s comments; but it is insane for the Republicans to be accussing anyone of inapropriate words; when day after day the absolute poison flows from the fear, hate, and divide Party. Just look at the statements coming from the " Religious Right" that verges on hysteria.To hear it from them; the world ends on Nov.5 if Barack Obama is elected President. Those people need to be put in a rubber room for their own protection. Not only are they a disgrace to America; they are a disgrace to true CHRISTIANITY! Before you take a splinter from your neighbours eye; take the log from your own. Do onto others as you would have done onto you. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Have these people ever read the Bible?!

    October 28, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  18. Rogue Palin

    guess what I am a PA resident for the past 4 1/2 yrs originally from NJ. YES , MURTHA is right! PA is a weird state, there are parts of it like Lancaster that are really representative of kindness seen in america and there are parts of it that hate non-white non-christians.

    What's wrong with Murtha's statement??? I know a couple of nice people that actually told me that they live near a KKK group. I mean the facts are facts. What is really more disturbing is that mcCain and Palin think that those who don't vote for them are not from Pro-america areas and are unpatriotic. This is the worst thing said the whole campaign season and will go down in the history books as the worst thing ever said by candidates.

    October 28, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  19. kendall


    October 28, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  20. theogracias

    Birds of a feather. John McCain is such a fraud.

    October 28, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  21. JohnRJ08

    Murtha is yet another example of a aging war veteran who has served beyond his time. He and McCain fit into the same category: two war heroes who have parlayed their medals into political careers. Unfortunately, just because you once wore a uniform doesn't necessarily mean you're a bright person who is fit to hold office.

    October 28, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  22. Scott L

    @No McPain-

    Check your facts. Secret Service has come out and stated that at no rallies has anyone yelled Kill Him!

    Don't listen to talking heads. Listen to facts.

    Fact – Obama said 250k was the tax threshhold.
    Fact – This weekend Obama's campaign said it isnow $200k.
    Fact – Yesterday Joe Biden said it was $150k but yet the Obama camp's own statement on that said $200k. So they are admitting they dropped it from 250k to 200k.

    So you tell me who is lying??? The Secret Service, or Obama/Biden with respect to your taxes.

    Check your facts people!

    And demand the LA Times release that tape of Obama talking about how Khalidi's views of Palestine have helped shape his policies.

    October 28, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  23. nani

    MCain/ Palin will win!

    If you believe in Obama you are stupid! he is arrogant ,

    McCain/ Palin

    McCain /Palinary wil win next week 2008

    you people don't be afraid to vote for McCain he is the right one!


    October 28, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. PJinNC

    Are there ANY Conservatives that are allowed to leave comments on these boards? Geez... Murtha makes these bonehead statements, and somehow the discussion turns into the how Republican Party is nothing but a bunch of scared, desperate, racists. So basically what you're saying is let's ignore the FACTS of what Murtha has said, and starting pointing fingers and calling the opposition names. But then again, since when have Democrats cared about facts... typical.

    You're ALL robots for Obama.

    October 28, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  25. Justin from New Haven, CT

    Hey McCain agreed with Murtha, so I don't know what the GOP is whining about.

    October 28, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
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