October 7th, 2010
09:59 AM ET
12 years ago

Talent agency for GOP ad called for 'hicky blue collar look'

UPDATE 11:00 a.m. ET: The NRSC has removed the ad from YouTube.

(CNN) - An ad out this week that's financed by National Republicans portrays three West Virginia voters in a rustic-looking diner declaring that Gov. Joe Manchin, the Democrat's Senate nominee, should stay "right here in West Virginia."

But there is one caveat: The ad was shot at least 250 miles east of the state, in Philadelphia, and features not actual West Virginians, but paid actors instead. And to look the part of a West Virginian, the talent agency in charge of casting for the spot sent out a call for a "'Hicky' Blue Collar look."

"These characters are from West Virginia so think coal miner/trucker looks," the casting call read, obtained by CNN from a Democratic source. "Each character should bring [sic] several options and stay away from all black or all white or thin stripes (thicker stripes and plaid are good)."

The talent agency also made several additional clothing suggestions, including a "Dickie's type jacket with t-shirt underneath," "Down filled vest," "John Deer hats (not brand new, preferably beat up)," and "Trucker hats (not brand new, preferably beat up)."

Democrats eagerly circulated the casting call – first reported by Politico – Thursday morning. But a National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman says the GOP hired a subcontractor for the commercial and had never seen the language that was used to recruit the spot's actors.

Republicans removed the ad from YouTube on Thursday morning.

"Contrary to the false headline in Politico, no one at the NRSC, or associated with the NRSC, had anything to do with the language used in this casting call. We do not support it, and suffice to say, we would encourage our contractors to never work with this outside agency again," said Brian Walsh, NRSC Communications Director."

An NRSC official added that the Independent Expenditure arm of the Republican organization contacted a GOP consulting firm to produce the ad, Jamestown Associates, which in turn approached the talent agency that used the casting call in question. It was the talent agency, and not the NRSC or the GOP consulting group that used the "hicky" language," the official said.

Nonetheless, the ad ends with the text, “The National Republican Senatorial Committee is responsible for the content of this ad," and a GOP source confirmed the ad was removed from YouTube because "Democrats are trying to make it an issue to distract from Manchin's flip-flopping on ObamaCare."

Of course, actors have long been used for political commercials by both parties alike, and even as Democratic sources leaked the casting call, they admitted their party uses actors too. But rarely is such colorful language revealed showing just how these spots get the right look to fit a state's demographics.

Still, Manchin, who is locked in a tight Senate battle with Republican businessman John Raese, immediately called on Raese to apologize for the language used in the casting call

"John Raese and his special interest friends have insulted the people of West Virginia and need to immediately apologize," said Manchin in a statement. "Not only have they been spending millions to try and buy this election with lies and distortions, we can now see once and for all what he and his friends really think of West Virginia and our people."

Actors and fake costumes aside, the ad itself might not be too far off in conveying the actual feelings of West Virginia voters during this cycle where any candidate viewed as the establishment faces an uphill battle.

"I won't be voting for [Manchin] for Senate," Nathan Rose, manager of the First Watch Diner in Charleston, told CNN this week. "I just want someone who is going to stand up against the way things are going," he said.

"I voted for him both times he's run here in West Virginia, but going to Washington, it scares me to death that he's just going to be a rubber stamp," said another voter, Dave Ridel. "I'm afraid he's going to be a rubber stamp for [President] Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelsoi."

The winner of November's special election will fill the final two years of the term of Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, who died earlier this year. Byrd was first elected to the Senate in 1958.

–CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Alexander Mooney contributed to this report

Filed under: 2010 • Ads • Joe Manchin • John Raese • West Virginia
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Pollwatcher

    Even they know their constituents are slack jawed yokels.

    October 7, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  2. Eric

    When you can't campaign on the issues, when you can't tout a wildly successful yet even more wildly unpopular legislative record, when you have nothing to fall back on... it's divide, conquer and smear time. Time to open Politics of Personal Destruction playbook.

    Democrats, welcome to Fail-Ville 2010... population you.

    October 7, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. Seattle Sue

    So the Republicans think of West Virginia people as hicks/hillbilly. The longer the Republicans are around the more their true colors come out.

    October 7, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. Pat

    The devious hypocrites of the gop have learned NOTHING from watergate?????

    October 7, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Richie G.

    I am from West Virginia, have 2 bachelor's and a master's. I am not offended by this ad. West Virginia is hicky and it isn't such a bad thing. I've been living in Connecticut for 2 years now and I really miss the easy-going attitude of West Virginians.

    October 7, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. Francisco Cardenas

    Yeah, the GOP thinks their supporters are "hicks" ... dumb hicks at that!

    October 7, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. David

    Shocked I say, shocked. Really, CNN? Its a political add. The country is going bankrupt, unemployment is thru the roof, parts of the United States are controlled by drug cartels, Obama is bowing and giving our money to folks that are trying to kill us and CNN is worried about a casting call?

    October 7, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. CR

    This is a good example of how the Republican hierarchy views the base of the party–easily manipulated backward hicks. Maybe someday the Republican Party can actually formulate a real agenda instead of relying on appeals to prejudice and selfishness.

    October 7, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. Dave

    Another duck and hide tactic by the Republicans. You hired the contractor, YOU paid for the ad for YOUR candidate. Don't hide behind someone else's actions own up and admit that you screwed up. COWARDS

    October 7, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. Bill from GA

    Simular ads were run in Georgia, first by repug Nathen Deal, then Dem Roy Barnes.Could have all been shot by the same agency, really fake looking.

    Neither tell how Deal took over $300,000 from taxpayers while in Congress to pay a company he was partnered in, for flight services in Deal's Congressional district. Deal is now using campaigh funds to pay his company $6000 per month, plus costs, for use of a plane. (No investigation of that, not in Georgia.)

    I'd like to see that in an ad.

    October 7, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. Steve

    Being from WV, I can personally attest to the inferiority complex many native WV have, mainly due to the false perception we are all uneducated rednecks. This will cause an uproar. I believe Mr. Raese may have just lost his bid for Senate.

    October 7, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. mikey mike

    I like how the one in the middle is wearing one of those hats that comes with the bill pre-frayed.

    October 7, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  13. GI Joe

    I wonder if it was paid for by the Koch brothers or Karl Roves group - hmmmmm. Maybe by the chinese or indians who want more of our corporations to send our jobs to other countries. Raese is corrupt enough to do it. How did he get his millions? He and his wife have lived in Florida for at least 3 years. What has he been promised??

    October 7, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Craig

    Why does this not surprise me? I'm old enough to remember when the GOP had at least some small measure of integrity. Every day, I'm more pleased with my decision leave the Republican party.

    October 7, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Ed L

    And yet... these morons will run out and vote GOP even though the Party of the Rich does nothing for these hicks.

    October 7, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. paylin

    That's so funny that GOP is blatantly playing the West Virginian voters, yet they still don't see it. How much more obvious can they make it! C'mon

    October 7, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. Bill from SoCal

    There's that lack of accountability the GOP is famous for. If you contract an agency to work on your behalf, they represent you. Secondly, they wouldn't have put out such a casting call if the GOP hadn't told them that they were looking for those kind of actors, and the ad certainly wouldn't have aired if the GOP hadn't approved it. This is just yet another in a long line of incidents that prove how out of touch the Republican Party is with mainstream America.

    October 7, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. "I Want My Country Back" Libs Go Home

    So the ultra sensitive Liberal CNN is "not in the tank for Obambi/Pelosi Democrats".......why don't you guys go see if you can dig up some old bone to gnaw on rather than trying to make something out of an AD AGENCY??? What's up CNN....has Sarah Palin fuel gotten short?

    October 7, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. kyle from ohio

    So now that you are caught red handed; you want no part of it, except you did not pull the commercial!! Another case of the rich trying to buy or persuade people to vote against their own best interest. Remember the fore father made it so "One Man One Vote", So tell and show the billionaires and the foreign powers our vote is not for sale!!!!

    October 7, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  20. Como

    You put this small time GOP ad in an article and ignore the garbage of Congressman Grayson D FL as he slanders his opponent Dan Webster. This ad is nothing compared to the unethical, lying garbage of Grayson.

    October 7, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. Rex-Steele

    Come on..this is news?!
    This has to be the stupidest thing I have ever heard of.
    It's a commercial for God's Sake...they are actors portraying a look....
    There is nothing offensive about this...Move On....people..nothing to see here

    October 7, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  22. Craig

    If they needed hicks they should have used the Palin clan!

    October 7, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. FedUp2

    "it scares me to death" Fear based politics works well on folks like this.

    October 7, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  24. Lucas Breen

    Manchin has done a good job. These sleaze balls have millions of dollars to go into any state and slime good public servants. It's disgusting. Thanks for letting people know about this. I'll be voting for Joe.

    October 7, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  25. jae

    I hate that senators are going to be a rubber stamp for this guy who is in the WHITE HOUSE!!!! we need people there who are going to be a rubber stamp for the corporations. Who signs our checks? Middle class and poor class, I am part of the middle class, we need to wake up and tell the dems we are happy being a legal slave to the corporations. I rather be that than listen to this obozo, I mean president of the united states, didnt this use to be of the highest office? we need people who are going to tell us that we can succeed until they dont like us.

    October 7, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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