February 6th, 2012
05:26 PM ET
11 years ago

Hoekstra won't apologize for Super Bowl ad

(CNN) - In the political world, it was the most talked-about ad from Sunday night's Super Bowl telecast. Pete Hoekstra, running for Senate in Michigan against incumbent Debbie Stabenow, hit the Democrat for her record on spending. But some are criticizing the spot for being blatantly racist.

The 30-second ad features a young Asian woman riding a bike through rice paddies speaking in unaccented but broken English:

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"Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow," the woman said. "Debbie spend so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow."

The ad debuted during the Super Bowl in Michigan television markets, and is accompanied with a website that includes Chinese characters and titles like the "Great Wall of Debt."

The ad is being lambasted by critics who call its depiction of the Asian woman racist.

In an interview with CNN Monday, Hoekstra defended the spot. Responding to allegations of racism, Hoekstra said "I don't think there's any element of that at all."

He added, "The only stereotyping is of liberal Democrats and their spending polices."

But the response from viewers who saw the ad, including fellow Republicans, was swift.

Republican strategist Mike Murphy tweeted, "Pete Hoekstra Superbowl TV ad in MI Senate race really, really dumb. I mean really."

And a group of Detroit Baptist ministers are calling on Hoekstra to apologize and pull the ad.

"If he would say these types of things, and use these types of actions, using Asians, than we believe the same fear tactics will be presented in this regard to African-Americans," civil rights leader Rev. Charles Williams II said at a press conference Monday.

The ad was reportedly produced by Fred Davis of Strategic Perception. He's the same ad man behind the now infamous "I'm not a witch" ad by former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell. Davis purposely goes for ads that are attention getting.

In fact, Hoekstra was the target of an ad campaign produced by Davis in 2010 during a run for Michigan governor. The spots, produced by Republican opponent Rick Snyder, presented Snyder as "one tough nerd" while painting Hoekstra as a career politician.

The ad's effectiveness sparked Hoekstra to hire Davis to produce a hard-hitting for his own campaign.

Despite the uproar, Hoekstra has no intention of backing down.

"No, I'm not apologizing for the ad," Hoekstra said. "If someone believes that we were insensitive, I'm sorry to them. But I'm not apologizing for this ad at all. I think it clearly drives the message. The problem is American public policy, it's not what the Chinese are doing at all."

Hoekstra centered a fundraising email to supporters around the ad Monday, writing "Here we go again. We dared to take on Debbie Stabenow and China, and the liberals are doing what they always do-crying racism."

The email directs readers to Hoekstra's campaign website, where they can contribute money to his election effort.

Senator Stabenow's campaign office referred requests for comment to the Michigan Democratic Party, which pointed to Hoekstra's own record of voting to increase the national debt ceiling and for the bailout of Wall Street.

Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said is the ad was backfiring.

"It was shot in the United States," Brewer said. "I understand the actress is an American. It's just hypocrisy and just so insincere. I think it just adds to Pete Hoekstra's credibility problems."

Also see:

Nevada runners up, Paul and Santorum vow to continue campaigns

Obama: Israel undecided on attack against Iran

Gingrich outlines a Southern revival strategy

Ohio newspaper endorses Romney

Filed under: Ads • Michigan • Peter Hoekstra
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. CPF

    Right, because it's the Democrats who are deregulating business and wage policies to the point where only cheap Chinese goods are being sold. Take a look at who Walmart is supporting in elections and you'll see that this ad, regardless of taste, has its facts backwards.

    February 6, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  2. Jamie from Riverside

    This is thth problem Republicans have that always bites them: Tone Deaf.

    February 6, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. Jamie from Riverside

    This fool is going to walk this one back and won't be able to apologize fast enough once he sees his poll nos and fundraising take a dump on account of this.

    February 6, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  4. Showmeyerpapers

    Super bowl?What super bowl?

    February 6, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  5. gt

    i would worry more about all the murders that are happening in the hood , school drop outs ,high crime rate, drug use and unwed mothers high child birth rate instead of this commmerical ..rev......

    February 6, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  6. mk1

    What do you expect from Hoekstra, he has made an art form of race bating along with immigrant bashing. This is really someone ashamed of, not admired.

    February 6, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  7. James

    How dare he use a chinese woman to play the part of a chinese woman.

    February 6, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  8. say it ain't so

    Republicans stand behind all the companies sending jobs to China, they even give them tax breaks... and yet they have the nerve to say it is the fault of democrats! This will backfire. If it were not for China, and cheap labor , the Republican party would not have the funds to suport their PAC crossroads.

    February 6, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  9. Thomas

    Id say its more stereotype and disinformation than racism since the actor in the ad is Vietnamese and not Chines.

    Pete Hoekstra is so ignorant , somebody on his staff needs to tell him the war in Vietnam ended years ago .

    The GOP is so out of touch.

    February 6, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  10. Woody

    How can you call that racist? Geez people!

    February 6, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  11. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I don't think that the maker of this ad, Fred Davis of Strategic Perception, is due to retire or be hired by fools in the furture. After the "I'm not a witch" should have given people a clue that this guy makes dumb and questionable commercials. The idea that Hoekstra sees this as only playing on "stereotypes of liberal" is just laughable. He isn't fit for office anymore.

    February 6, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  12. Get real

    It's not racism one bit and if it wasn't so true it would be funny.

    February 6, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  13. dreucalypt

    Of course he isn't going to apologize for his racism. Racism is his most effective strategy.

    February 6, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  14. af

    You are a hypocrite candidat. Did God say that you can exploite people to be rich. you have made over $250 million on the back of american people, how much you ever give in charity to help the needed ones? lier

    February 6, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  15. Elphaba

    The Tea Party's fifteen minutes were up when the Evangelical Right took it over. Everybody wants small government and to reduce the public debt, but not at the expense of women losing their right to choose, introducing Intelligent Design in our schools, and the near future winning of Gay and lesbian rights to marry.

    February 6, 2012 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  16. ct

    first it was blacks, latinos, now it's asian. Really pathetic coming from these republicans.

    February 7, 2012 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  17. scorpdude

    There was a time, long long ago when decency, intelligence and common sense was the norm, not the exception in American politics. Thanks to Hoekstra and the GOP (though the Dems are not blameless) for taking the art of the negative ad and making it the norm by which the GOP runs a campaign. Gingrich has a lot to do with it too, and I for one see a grieving Lincoln over what has become of the Republican party. Besides, Pete, most of the outsourcing of American jobs overseas was done on the watch of GOP White House residents, um, I mean presidents. So remember when you point a finger there's 4 pointing back at....YOU! Dirtball....wait, how do you say that in Chinese? Little help Pete? Right...污垢球

    February 7, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  18. informed voter

    Many racists have no clue that they are racists, and Mr. Hoekstra's non-apology only highlights his blatant bigotry. This ad will be as effective in his election bid as Ms. O'Donnell's ad was in hers.

    February 7, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  19. JPNAmerican

    Congratulations on your reelection Debbie

    February 7, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  20. Sucky Sucky

    Michigan is a union intensive wasteland. They need the republicans to clean up their act. Look at all the jobs and livelihoods that the liberals destroyed there. Get rid of Spenditnow.

    February 7, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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