GOP pulling W.Va. Senate ad after casting call sought actors with a ‘hicky blue collar’ look

Thursday, October 7, 2010

GOP pulling W.Va. Senate ad with ‘hicky’ actors

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — National Republicans pulled back a West Virginia Senate ad Thursday after Democrats revealed its casting call had sought actors who looked like hicks to play state voters.

The 30-second spot, filmed in Philadelphia, was dropped from the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s YouTube channel Thursday.

Republicans expected it to also be withdrawn from TV, where it has been in heavy rotation since Tuesday, according to a party official not directly involved in handling the ad. The official was not authorized to comment and requested anonymity.

The ad showed men in flannel shirts and baseball caps worrying that Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin would side with President Barack Obama if elected to the Senate.

It’s a theme the GOP has been hammering in the battle to replace the late Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd. But the Republican nominee, businessman John Raese, denounced the ad.

“The ad is ridiculous and I am happy to say that no one with the Raese campaign had anything to do with it,” Raese spokesman Kevin McLaughlin said.

The casting call listed clothing options including trucker or “John Deer” hats that are “not brand new, preferably beat up,” as well as jeans, down filled vests and “Dickie’s type jacket with t-shirt underneath.”

“We are going for a ‘Hicky’ Blue Collar look,” it said. “These characters are from West Virginia so think coal miner/trucker looks.”

The NRSC blamed the wording on Philadelphia-based Kathy Wickline Casting, which declined comment when contacted Thursday.

“No one at the NRSC, or associated with the NRSC, had anything to do with the language used in this casting call,” spokesman Brian Walsh said.

The NRSC provided a Sept. 27 e-mail in which its production firm asked the casting company “for someone to represent the middle of the country Ohio, Pittsburgh, West Virginia area.”

The casting call was first reported by the website Politico. The NRSC said it spent around $450,000 to air the ad, out of a estimated $3.5 million it has reserved for ad airtime in the closely fought race that the GOP believes it has a shot at winning.

Manchin and Democrats called the ad an insult.

“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 (Raese) and his friends really think of West Virginia and our people,” Manchin said in a statement.

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