Barack Obama’s campaign got wind of oppo researcher Stephen Marks’ plans to air the “The Real Barack Obama” ad produced by his 527 group pH for America on five TV stations in the battleground states of PA and MI starting this week, because his “smear-fighting” Web site has launched an attack on the attack ad.

Referring to him as a “career smear peddler,” a “trickster” and a “scam artist,” the Obama campaign does not mention Marks by name, but coyly links to an entry on SourceWatch instead.

Obama’s “Fight The Smears” Web site claims that at 2:09, the YouTube version of the ad – which has gotten 4 million hits in the three months since it’s been posted – is too long to air on TV and that “the video quality is far too low for it to be a real ad.” The Obama campaign warns:

Whatever you do, don’t give this scam artist any money!  … Make no mistake: this “ad” will never run.

Marks says that pH for America has taken the YouTube version of the ad and re-cut it into 1-minute and 2-minute spots that will air 42 times during the first week of October. The ads are supposed to start running today in three PA cities (Pittsburgh, Altoona/Johnstown and  Erie) and two MI cities (Lansing and Flint).

PA and MI are both battleground states. John McCain is trailing Obama by 6 points in PA, according to the latest Rasmussen poll and by 7 points in MI. You’ll recall that PA voters – you know, those bitter, gun-toting bible thumpers – favored Hillary Clinton over Obama in the primary 55 percent to 45 percent.

Marks tells The Stiletto via e-mail that he held off airing his first ad on TV until after the two parties held their primary conventions because “this is the time when the undecideds are paying attention.”

In a press release announcing the TV debut of “The Real Barack Obama” ad (which, for some reason, the Obama Web site refers to as the “Sermon on the Mount” ad) Marks addresses the campaign’s smears:

Accusing me of the serious crime of scamming contributors is beyond scurrilous. How can the Obama campaign call me a “scam artist” … when they know full well that I have produced and aired 527 TV ads in the past two presidential campaigns?  Unless they can prove anything about this ad is a scam, they are guilty of libel, and I am pursuing legal action regarding this matter. 

In an e-mail exchange, Marks adds that if this is merely a case of a low-level staffer who handles the Fight The Smears Web site doing something “stupid” rather than “a high-level campaign decision” then he will accept “a full retraction and apology” from the Obama campaign as a “show of good faith.” Absent that, an attorney will soon be demanding that the libelous references to Marks be removed from the Obama Web site.

The Obama campaign has a history of intimidating critics by any means necessary – for instance, recruiting St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer to form a “truth squad” (video from KMOV-TV, St. Louis).

In a statement about the Obama campaign’s “abusive” use of the state’s law enforcement, MO Gov. Matt Blunt (R) called this “police state tactics” using “threats of prosecution and criminal punishment” to “frighten people … to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations … and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.”

Writing on National Review’s blog “The Corner,” columnist Mark Steyn notes, “The Obama campaign’s response to uncongenial allegations is not to rebut them but to use its muscle to squash the authors.”

It seems the Obama campaign is looking to stomp all over Marks with its jackboot tactics.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

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