Rabid Republican racism

To understand how far the Republican Party in Virginia will go to try and defeat Barack Obama in this battleground state, one only has to read this report from Time magazine’s Karen Tumulty:

If John McCain is as serious as he says about running a “respectful” campaign against an opponent he considers “a decent person,” word hasn’t yet trickled down to his newly opened storefront field office in Gainesville, Virginia.

No Democratic presidential candidate has carried Virginia since 1964, and most election years both campaigns pretty much ignore the state. This time, however, McCain is running behind Barack Obama in statewide polls, thanks in large part to the head start he got on the ground there. “We haven’t seen a race like this in Virginia — ever,” said state GOP Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick. “The last time was 40 years ago, and they didn’t run races like this.”

Indeed, Frederick, a 33-year-old state legislator, hadn’t even been born yet. But earlier this year Frederick unseated a moderate 71-year-old former lieutenant governor (who also happens to be Jenna Bush’s father-in-law) to become head of the Virginia GOP, promising “bold new leadership” for a state party recently on the decline.

The McCain campaign invited me to visit Frederick and the Gainesville operation on Saturday morning, to get a first-hand glimpse of its ground game in Prince William County, Virginia, a fast-growing area about 30 miles from Washington, D.C.

With so much at stake, and time running short, Frederick did not feel he had the luxury of subtlety. He climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points — for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden: “Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” he said. “That is scary.” It is also not exactly true — though that distorted reference to Obama’s controversial association with William Ayers, a former 60s radical, was enough to get the volunteers stoked. “And he won’t salute the flag,” one woman added, repeating another myth about Obama. She was quickly topped by a man who called out, “We don’t even know where Senator Obama was really born.” Actually, we do; it’s Hawaii.

This comes on the heels of a overtly racist column written by Bobby May, McCain’s chairman in nearby Buchanan County (where May was also County Treasurer). In the column, May says Obama’s platform includes:

Hire rapper Ludacris to paint (the White House) black. Taxes to be increased to by enough paint for the job plus spray-paint for graffiti.

Raise taxes to send $845 billion, most to Africa so the Obama family can skim off enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American dream.

May was forced to resign his post after the column appeared in The Voice, a Buchanan County newspaper. A McCain supporter, writing for Politico, called May’s attack just “one isolated piece from a low level party activist in a rural paper.”

Low level activist? According to The Richmond Times Dispatch:

May has been involved with dozens of Republican campaigns throughout Virginia, including former gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr., R-5th.

The McCain campaign may have dumped May but it  has not distanced itself from Fredrick’s comments and the state chairman is hardly “a low level activist.”

Writes Virginia blogger Lowell Feld:

Look, we all know that Jeff Frederick is a right-wing extremist nutcase, but he’s also the head of the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV).  That means, when Jeff Frederick utters one of his (many) crazy remarks, he’s representing the entire RPV.

What Jeff Frederick said in Time Magazine is stupid, hateful, and completely beyond the pale. It’s no better than the racist and anti-Muslim rantings of Bobby Lee May, who was forced to resign a few days ago as chairman of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign in Buchanan County. So, when will the “leaders” of Virginia’s Republican Party – Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, etc. – demand Jeff Frederick’s resignation as chairman of the RPV?  When will John McCain and Sarah Palin repudiate Frederick’s remarks, just as John McCain grabbed the microphone away from a bigoted supporter who called Obama an “Arab” (as if there’s anything wrong with that)? If these people do NOT repudiate Frederick and force his resignation, can we conclude that they agree with his remarks?  What’s it gonna be, guys?

P.S. Remember, this wasn’t some offhand remark by Frederick; he said it knowing that a reporter from TIME MAGAZINE was in the room taking notes for a story! Imagine what he says when the media isn’t present?!?

All of this are old tricks of the GOP. I saw such tactics used often when I worked for the Republican Party in the 1980s.  A Republican friend who still works in the political game told me Bobby May’s racist diatribe is not an original work by him but was written by a staff member of the Republican National Committee in Washington and distributed to McCain campaign offices for whatever use they wanted to make of it.  It has been widely circulated in emails sent out by GOP activists.

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