Democrat Caroline Fayard no longer has the backing of the Alliance for Good Government in the U.S. Senate race because of a campaign ad that attempts to link her rival Foster Campbell to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Alliance for Good Government chair Tim Fandal said that Fayard lost the group's endorsement when she chose to continue running the ad that includes clipped audio from an Alliance-hosted forum that was not supposed to be recorded. Fayard's campaign on Friday characterized the exchange as her rescinding acceptance of the group's endorsement.
U.S. Senate candidate Foster Campbell is crying foul over a negative ad from fellow Democrat…
“Claiming to stand for the tenets of good government and then attempting to censor the disclosure of what was said at their own open forum is beneath the integrity once exhibited by the Alliance for Good Government," Fayard said in a statement. "Any organization that is trying to keep backroom discussions from the public is not one I want to be endorsed by.”
At issue is a television ad that the Fayard campaign has been running in New Orleans and Baton Rouge markets. (It has not been officially posted online, but can be viewed here.)
The television spot, which Fayard has repeatedly defended despite objections raised by Campbell and others, uses a recorded comment from the Alliance for Good Government's Senate forum on Aug. 8 to claim that "Campbell even sided with Mr. Duke."
In context, the soundbite was pulled from Campbell saying that, like Duke, he could name many examples of tax exemptions he would eliminate.
"I may be like Mr. Duke," Campbell says in clipped, somewhat grainy audio in the ad, without the context of the broader statement unrelated to racism, anti-Semitism or other objectionable positions with which Duke, a Republican also running for the Senate seat, is widely associated.
The ad has drawn a swift backlash. The liberal DailyKos called it "one of the most scummy ads of the year," and The Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace, who attended the forum, called it "the season's ugliest television ad."
Fandal said that the quote was taken out of context and the Alliance objected to being associated with it by its name appearing on screen as the citation for where the phrase was uttered.
"It wasn't the whole conversation that transpired at that forum," he said. "We don't want to be associated with this type of negative advertising."
The ad also includes photos of Campbell standing near Duke at the same forum. On Friday, the Fayard campaign sent reporters another photo of the two of them shaking hands at the same event. Her campaign also tweeted the photo.
"Campbell and Duke, the past," the ad's narrator says, before identifying Fayard as "our future."
In an interview with The Advocate on Thursday, Campbell said that Duke "ran up to" him after the forum and attempted to strike up a conversation. Campbell said he was polite but didn't want to associate with him and quickly exited the conversation.
"Caroline Fayard is down in the polls and she'll do anything to try to hold on," Campbell said. "It's a shame that she would stoop to this when she knows damn well that it's not the truth."
Fayard has repeatedly defended the ad.
"The facts are the facts. Commissioner Campbell refuses to even say (Democratic presidential nominee) Hillary Clinton's name publicly, or say whether he voted for President Obama," she said Wednesday. "But he's happy to sidle up to David Duke at a public forum for a chat in front of many witnesses."
"It's based on what I've personally witnessed Commissioner Campbell do and say with my own eyes and ears," she said.
About two dozen people are seeking the U.S. Senate seat up for grabs in Louisiana this year. All candidates will appear on the same Nov. 8 ballot, and the two candidates who get the most votes, regardless of party, will head to a Dec. 10 runoff.
The Democratic rivalry between Fayard and Campbell has been particularly bitter, while Republican frontrunners John Kennedy, Charles Boustany and John Fleming battle on the other side.
But Boustany on Friday also took aim at Campbell over his support for Clinton but aversion to referring to her by name, signaling that he sees an opportunity to gain some traction in the race and possibly overtake the Democrat. Three new polls out this week showed Boustany and Campbell virtually neck-and-neck for the second spot in the runoff behind Kennedy.
In a statement on Friday, Boustany's campaign slammed Campbell as a "career politician" who was trying to avoid linking himself to Clinton.
"He says ‘talking about Hillary Clinton distracts people,’" Boustany campaign spokesman Jack Pandol said after news broke that the FBI is reviewing new emails related to Clinton's use of a personal email server during her time as secretary of state. "Foster Campbell needs to stop tap dancing like the career politician he is and man up."
Campbell campaign spokeswoman Mary-Patricia Wray called the move "desperate."
"Mr. Boustany and every other candidate in this race are well aware that Commissioner Campbell has stated he is supporting the Democratic nominee, but desperate times lead failing campaigns to desperate measures," she said.