PAC Behind Anti-Park51 Ad Produced “One of the Sleaziest False TV Ads” of ’08 Campaign

The National Republican Trust PAC, which is aiming to raise millions of dollars to run an ad opposing what it calls the building of a “monstrous 13-story mosque,” was lambasted by FactCheck.org for a 2008 presidential campaign ad in which it said Barack Obama had a “plan” to give drivers’ licenses to would-be terrorists.

The National Republican Trust PAC’s mission statement is “to take back our country from the dangerous progressives that are hell-bent on destroying the American dream and expanding government control over every aspect of our daily lives. Our mission is to lead the new GOP and save our economy and our individual freedoms before it is too late.”

In its review of the 2008 ad, FactCheck, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said that the “upstart group” “mixes a pile of false claims and the image of 9/11 mastermind Mohammed Atta to create one of the sleaziest false TV ads of the campaign.” The ad claimed that Obama had a plan to give drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants (which was not true), and that would enable terrorists like Atta, an assertion FactCheck called “ridiculous” because Atta entered the country legally and in any event could have boarded the plane he hijacked without a driver’s license. In all, FactCheck concluded, “hardly a word in the ad is true.”

The Cato Institute’s Jim Harper called the ad “despicable and wrong” and “terror-pandering of the highest order.”

In his “Strategy for America” accompanying his anti-“Ground Zero Mosque” campaign, the National Republican Trust PAC’s executive director Scott Wheeler, a veteran of conservative smear rags like NewsMax, titles the webpage, “America needs a leader, not a liberal” and claims that:

The National Republican Trust brought this issue onto the national stage. Now we need to ask Democrats the simple question, “Do you stand with America, or do you stand with her Enemies?” This is the key to this November’s election.  Could there be a more important question?

(emphasis in original). He concludes (again, emphasis is Wheeler’s):

So, it’s now time to force Democrats to choose sides. We must ask, and then publicize, their answers to these questions:

  1. Are you with America or against America?
  2. Do you support the majority of Americans who oppose this Mosque? Or, do you continue to disregard the loud voice of the people?
  3. Do you understand what many of those behind the Ground Zero Mosque are trying to do to us? Do you even care?
  4. Is it acceptable to continually offend Christians and Americans first, merely to avoid discomfiting foreigners and Muslims?
  5. To whom do you answer (here on Earth)?

The answers to these questions must be recorded…and then widely disseminated to the public in the form of television, radio and Internet ads so we Americans can vote them out of office!!!

Wheeler’s current ad opens with the words, “the audacity of jihad,” images of terrorist training and 9/11, and claims that the building is proposed to “celebrate” the murder of 3,000 Americans. Like the 2008 campaign ad, the conflation of images, innuendo, and outright falsehoods is intended to portray the planners of the project as terrorists, and their supporters — even just supporters of their religious freedom, if not their actual project — as their anti-American aiders and abettors.

Greg Sargent digs into the Pew poll internals and finds “a solid majority of those who believe that [Obama is Muslim] say they ‘learned’ it from the media.” To the extent that the work of outfits like the National Republican Trust PAC get play in the conservative media, and strongly suggest Obama is Muslim, perhaps that’s where these respondents are getting their “news.” NRT PAC’s current press release includes the gem (again, emphasis in original), “Barack Obama – son of a Muslim father, who once declared that the ‘Arabic call to prayer is one of the loveliest sounds on earth at Sunset’ – has endorsed the building of the Muslim’s Ground Zero Mosque.” It’s smoke and mirrors, but I wonder if there’s a correlation between that smoke and mirrors and that majority of the nearly one-fifth of respondents who have walked away with the delusion that the president is Muslim.

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