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. Emily

    Cone on McCain, sling some more mud. Why don't you do the honorable thing and help some of your fellow republicans hang on to their seats. Oh, I forgot, you are too selfish and dishonorable to do that.

    October 28, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  2. Veronica

    While Murtha's comments were pretty lousy, to say the least, the GOP is in NO position to call ANYONE racist. ESPECIALLY with all the race baiting the McCain/Palin camp have spewed.

    Remember back to the conventions and the sea of supporters at each ... which had the most diverse supporters? I'll give you a hint ... It wasn't the "Grand Old Party".

    This just REEKS of desperation.

    October 28, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  3. mona

    I think it was not the best decision for Murtha to make a statement like that as it could be offensive to many that are not racist or those who do not realize they are racist. I do think that he made a bold decision to say something that others dared not say, a comment that is backed up by a dirty truth. Racism exist whether people want to believe it or not. For many of us that can see beyond religion and color, need to focus on more important things like reaching our full potential. We can not change the minds of those that were raised in a hateful and ignorant enviornment, the best thing to do is focus their negative energy into a positive direction for the rest of us.

    October 28, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  4. Ryan

    See? GOP got nothing better to do... It just show how desperate for the Republicans are...

    October 28, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  5. TjayeInLA

    Let's see if this gets posted:

    I'm always amazed at people who are openly racists, but upset if someone calls them racist. Be proud of who you are and lay claim to your true self.

    October 28, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. Obama-Biden '08

    The Republican party is calling a Dem racist? Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.

    October 28, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. Observer


    October 28, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  8. Jennifer

    there is nothing wrong with his comment. Western PA IS habored BY RACISTS. I am a living witness.

    October 28, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. Carol

    His comments are considered "racist". But Gretchen Wilson singing "I'm a redneck woman" at Sarah Palins rally is just fine?

    October 28, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  10. Pog Mahon

    The Repugnant Party preys on the simple minded people's fears and bigotry. There is nothing partriotic about a President, or a political party, that sends our valiant military into war with fueled with lies and decption, but without the armor or even something as basic as an exit strategy. All a part of the shamless politics from the slimy crowd of arrogant and ignorant elitists. They are self serving power hungry religious wackos. Think Rick Santanorom.Send them all home to the backwoods and boggs where they came from!

    October 28, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  11. Didlo

    Apparently, they aren't the only ones with 'scarce resources'.

    Just think
    Come on
    Keep it real

    Or the readers
    Feel the redundancy and

    October 28, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. Denny Mac

    Here is the real question: From the attack at Pearl Harbor December 7th 1941, to the unconditional surrender of Japan in Toyko Bay August 15th 1945 aboard the USS Missouri took 45 months. We have been in Iraq since March of 2003, That's 68 Months... Do you think the SURGE IS WORKING ??? OR IS WAR A BUSINESS FOR THE GOP??
    Navy Vet for Obama

    October 28, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  13. Does Obama Palin Comparison?

    Whether or not Obama wins will be determined by how racist DEMOCRATS are. (Republicans weren't going to vote for him in the first place, so race cannot be an issue with them.)

    October 28, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  14. sick n tired

    If this were a schoolyard scrum, the GOP would be the kid swinging wildy but not hitting anything!!

    October 28, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  15. wakeupamerica

    I am in disbelief. This coming from the McCain / Palin ticket that is using racial hatred and divisiveness as its core component for pro America. The GOP fooled me in 2000 and 2004, not again in 2008. McCain and Palin have no interest in uniting this country. Where is his repudiation of Ashley Todd and her hoax claiming an African American male attacked her and carved a backwards B on her face? McCain has said NOTHING – which shows he supports racial division. This is old news yet they bring it up again. Unbelievable the lows this campaign will sink too. If you are a minority, I beg you please, please, please do not vote for McCain. He does not have minority, or America's, interest at heart. John McCain and Sarah Palin are only out for themselves – and let's face it white America. It is pathetic. This is 2008.

    America – wakeup. This is not a game. This is our country. This is our children's future. Please don't vote for this man.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 28, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  16. smart one

    the GOP calling anyone racist...just listen to their rallies!

    October 28, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  17. Dan

    Which has WHAT to do with this campaign?!?

    October 28, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  18. imperialists

    The Marines are killers. That is what US foreign policy is all about. The truth hurts. US Policy is about killing foreigners and taking their oil and resources. Should the US's soft power (economic power) fail to get what the US wants, the US military is there to beat the enemies to submission. There has never been a war to fight for a humanitarian cause!! Anyway, I do feel sorry for the soldiers. They are brainwashed and spoonfed the patriotic propaganda. Sadly its not even patriotic. It serves the corporate masters and their agenda.

    October 28, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  19. DR

    This is called a circumstantial ad hominem fallacy. Rep. Murtha's circumstances (his political views, support for a certain presidential candidate, shoe size, etc.) have not one single thing to do with whether or not what he said is true. Those circumstances might (and of course, usually do) affect his motivations for saying these things, but they have NO RELATION WHATSOEVER to the objective veracity of the statements. Here's how you can find out if what he said about Western Pennsylvania is true: 1. Be a person of color. 2. Go there. 3. See how that works out for you.

    October 28, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  20. Ryan

    What is the definition of "in cold blood"? Is it subjective? Have the facts changed that several infants and toddlers wound up dead w/ US military bullets in them? That the co initially reported civilian deaths from an IED, and only retracted the account after the "elite" media began investigating. Maybe these were mercy killings, who knows.

    October 28, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  21. Californian4Obama

    Hmmm, isn't this Old News? It's not nearly as bad as what is said at the McCain/Palin rallies. Why can't you Republicans lose with a little dignity?

    October 28, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  22. Luis, Seattle, WA

    Murtha, open his mouth and generalized individuals...that is unacceptable no matter what. However, the comment about the marines in Iraq..is true. If you do not believe it look at the statistics of civilian casualties on the hands of our VERY own arm forces. Is a fact.
    Education levels in Western Penn. are lower...and hence the comments about RedNecks...however, it would not be so have the Republicans no cut Education funds going to those areas.

    Murtha is not very bright..and just like Bush he was elected by un-educated people...the same people that voted Murtha into office. If you do not like him the shut up and vote him out.

    October 28, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  23. Dana

    That A.H. John McCain needs Pennsylvania. He isn't going to get it. It belongs to Obama. Don't even think about using the RACE CARD Mr. Mc Cain. We don't like ugly in PA.

    October 28, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  24. Bob

    If he would have made a similiar comment about blacks, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be marching in PA to make him resign.

    October 28, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  25. Mn voter

    If any one hasn' t realized why obama is pushing early voteing so hard here it is. When everyone finds out the truth about him , it will be to late to change your vote. Wait until the 5th, you might have a good reason to not vote for him. If you cast your vote early you can't change it.

    October 28, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
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