Feb 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Obama demands South Carolina stations stop airing misleading anti-Biden ad

Obama and Biden

Photo: Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Former President Obama's office is calling on South Carolina TV stations to stop running a misleading attack ad by a pro-Trump super PAC that uses Obama's voice out of context to make it appear as if he is criticizing Joe Biden and Democrats on race.

Why it matters: It's a rare intervention by Obama, whose former vice president is facing a critical primary in South Carolina on Saturday. Obama has said he has no plans to endorse in the Democratic field.

Details: The ad is part of a $250,000 campaign by the Committee to Defend the President to oppose Biden in South Carolina, per the Washington Post.

  • It features audio of Obama reading from a portion of his memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” that mimics a character who is criticizing Democrats.
  • Meanwhile, a screen flashes the headlines from NBC News and the New York Times that read, "Joe Biden joined segregationists" and "Joe Biden wrote bill that disproportionately jailed African Americans."

What they're saying:

"This despicable ad is straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook, and it’s clearly designed to suppress turnout among minority voters in South Carolina by taking President Obama’s voice out of context and twisting his words to mislead viewers. In the interest of truth in advertising, we are calling on TV stations to take this ad down and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate."
— Obama spokesperson Katie Hill in a statement to the Post

The big picture: Joe Biden views his strong support among black voters, which comprise 60% of the Democratic electorate in South Carolina, as his firewall in what has thus far been a disappointing primary season for the former vice president.

  • "This latest intervention in the Democratic primary is one of the most desperate yet, a despicable torrent of misinformation by the president's lackeys,” said Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates, per the Post.
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