Republicans Slammed for Recruiting 'Hicky' Actors for West Virginia Ad

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Only a few hours after Politico revealed an embarrassing casting call for an ad the National Republican Senatorial Committee issued in the West Virginia Senate race, the NRSC has decided to pull the ad.

A contractor hired to create the ad, which was filmed in Philadelphia, had advertised for actors to portray a certain West Virginia stereotype: the blue-collar worker. Politico's Mike Allen got hold of the casting call:

Wardrobe:
- We are going for a 'Hicky' Blue Collar look. These characters are from West Virginia so think coal miner/trucker looks ...

- Clothing Suggestions:
• Jeans
• Work boots
• Flannel shirt
• Denim shirt
• Dickie's type jacket with t-shirt underneath
• Down filled vest
• John Deer hats (not brand new, preferably beat up)
• Trucker hats (not brand new, preferably beat up)
• No Thin Stripes

In the completed ad, the chosen actors sit at a diner, talking politics. The ad is actually pretty innovative in that it acknowledges widespread support for Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin, the NRSC's target. The Republican candidate, John Raese, has based his campaign on framing Manchin as a lackey for Obama, so the men in the ad talk about how they'd like to keep Manchin in West Virginia so that he doesn't morph into "Washington Joe," who "does whatever Obama wants."  




After Politico exposed the casting call, Manchin's campaign issued a statement demanding an apology from Raese:

John Raese and his special interest friends have insulted the people of West Virginia and need to immediately apologize. 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 he and his friends really think of West Virginia and our people. It's offensive and it only proves that John Raese has spent too much time in the state of Florida, living in his Palm Beach mansion, and doesn't know, understand or respect the great people of this state, and what we stand for.

The flap is a boon for Manchin and the Democrats, who have been painting Raese as a wealthy outsider disconnected from the state's working identity. The NRSC's rapid reaction also plays into the Democrats' hands, making the organization seem disconnected from on-the-ground campaign work and the needs of individual states.

What spokesman Brian Walsh been quick to point out, of course, is that most ads use outside actors. The NRSC was just unlucky enough to have the creative process behind a potentially very effective attack ad exposed.   

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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