State Chamber wants apology for 'hicks' ad

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Oct 11, 2010

A screen shot from the NRSC ad against West Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Gov. Joe Manchin. (Photo via YouTube)

CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is asking for an apology from the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Republican Senatorial candidate John Raese for characterizing West Virginia workers as "hicks" in a recent television ad.

West Virginia Chamber President Steve Roberts said in a statement on Thursday, "Shame on those whose view of us is as having a 'Hicky Blue Collar look.' We should be beyond stereotypes of this nature in the year 2010."

The ad in question is described by the Chamber as "anti-(Joe) Manchin." The state's current governor is facing Raese, a Morgantown businessman, in the Nov. 2 election for the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd's U.S. Senate seat.

The ad, called "Stop Obama," depicted blue-collar-looking workers sitting at a diner griping about Manchin's support for President Barack Obama.

Politico reported early Thursday that the ad was shot using actors in Philadelphia and that the casting call said, "We are going for a 'Hicky Blue Collar look.'"

The casting call also urged actors to bring clothing like flannel shirts, "beat up" John Deere hats and down-filled vests -- "think coal miner/trucker looks," it said.

"West Virginia workers of all races, ages and genders deserve respect. We are some of this nation's hardest workers. We produce the energy that powers much of the east coast of our country. West Virginia soldiers have fought and died at a high rate to defend our country.

"No desire to win an election should result in belittling West Virginia's hardworking citizens," Roberts said.

The Chamber -- which endorsed Manchin, as did the U.S. Chamber -- is calling on Republican state chairman Mike Stuart, who previously expressed support for the ad, and "all hardworking, decent Republican leaders in West Virginia" to reject the "flawed" advertisement.

Roberts said, "All loyal West Virginians should be offended. Obviously, the out-of-state groups attacking Governor Manchin don't know West Virginia and its workers very well. We are not 'hicks' and our hard work and honest ways deserve better than this ad demonstrates."

Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission and a partner at Charleston law firm Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler, also is requesting an apology from the Republican National Senatorial Committee.

He said "surely" Raese will do the same.

"While I am a registered Democrat and a public office holder, I am first and foremost a proud West Virginian," Carper said in a statement. "Stereotyping the most patriotic hardworking people in this country is deserving of both an apology from and the candidate you support."

He said of Manchin, "He is a true West Virginian who loves his state and his country. He deserves better than fake actors from Philadelphia making fun of us all."

The ad already has been stripped off YouTube, Fox News reported late Thursday.

A Republican official told Fox it likely would have been "rotated off" television in a few days anyway to make way for a new ad. The official said it probably would be taken off the air sooner rather than later so it doesn't become a "distraction" to Raese's campaign.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform owns The West Virginia Record.

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