The head of the super PAC that commissioned a potential ad targeting President Obama for his ties to the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright said on Friday that the group was never going to the run the ad, and defended the group’s benefactor, billionaire Joe Ricketts.
Ricketts, the founder of brokerage firm TD Ameritrade and part owner of the Chicago Cubs, reportedly rejected the proposal amid harsh public push-back on Thursday. But Brian Baker, the president of the Ricketts-backed Ending Spending Action Fund, on Friday said that the proposal was dead on arrival, different from what he told The New York Times on Wednesday. According to the report, Baker had team members “ready to jump into action upon plan approval.”
“Joe Ricketts is prepared to spend significant resources in the 2012 election in both the presidential race and congressional races,” Baker told the Times in a Wednesday interview. “He is very concerned about the future direction of the country and plans to take a stand.”
The proposal, which at one point called the president a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln,” among other attacks, attempted to connect him to Wright and black liberation theology, an attack that surfaced during the 2008 campaign. The ad's creator, Fred Davis, a Republican strategist and former ad-maker for Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, said that if McCain had brought up this attack, he could have won the presidency. McCain rejected an ad that highlighted Obama's relationship with Wright, however.
On Friday, Baker tried to distance his organization from Davis. He said that Davis did not present the plan to Ricketts directly, and that the group never asked for an ad that targeted Wright.
“I was immediately troubled by the proposal. It had surprised me,” Baker said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “We run an organization focused on fiscal responsibility. And the proposal itself knows that we asked for a document based on ending spending, based on fiscal responsibility and jobs in the economy. This is far afield from that.”
Baker said that the attacks against his group and the Ricketts family have been unfair. “The world is full of bad ideas,” he said. “This is one of them.”