Lawyers for former President Barack Obama sent out a cease and desist letter demanding a pro-Trump group pull its attack ad that uses his voice to suggest that the former Vice President Joe Biden is in favor of “plantation politics.”
The ad, created by the Committee to Defend the President super PAC, began airing on television stations across South Carolina this Tuesday and is aimed at dissuading voters from supporting Biden on Saturday’s primary contest.
“Joe Biden promised to help our community. It was a lie. Here’s President Obama,” the ad’s narrator says. The ad includes the words of Obama’s 1995 memoir — Dreams from My Father — to infer that his former vice president is a proponent of “plantation politics” that hurts the black community.
Our new ad playing in South Carolina: @JoeBiden joined segregationists, wrote a bill that disproportionately jailed African Americans, & blamed black parents for inequality. He will not represent us. pic.twitter.com/9qkiOOYn0V
— Defend Trump (@Defend_Trump) February 26, 2020
The ad ends with the narrators stating: “Enough. Joe Biden won’t represent us, defend us, or help us. Don’t believe Biden’s empty promises.”
Perkins Coie lawyer Patchen Haggerty wrote in a letter to the pro-Trump group: “This unauthorized use of President Obama’s name, image, likeness, voice and book passage is clearly intended to mislead the target audience of the ad into believing that the passage from the audiobook is a statement that was made by President Barack Obama during his presidency, when it was in fact made by a barber in a completely different context more than 20 years ago. To this end, the Committee to Defend the President must immediately remove this ad … further the Committee to Defend the President must agree on behalf of itself and all affiliated entities to refrain from future misuse of President Obama’s intellectual property or right of publicity.”
In a statement, Obama communications director Katie Hill described the ad as “despicable” and “straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook.”
“In the interest of truth in advertising, we are calling on TV stations to take this ad down and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate,” Hill added.
Ted Harvey, who serves as chairman of the Committee to Defend the President, defended the ad in a statement: “The Committee has a long history of taking on Joe Biden, beyond Nevada and South Carolina. President Obama made a point in his book about Democrats paying lip-service to the African-American community and we believe his point applies perfectly to Joe Biden.
“It took President Trump to lower black unemployment and create jobs for the African-American community, in addition to passing criminal justice reform. Joe Biden, on the other hand, is simply giving lip-service for votes. That’s the point President Obama made in his book, and we have every right to use his own words — in his own voice — in the political forum,” Harvey added.
The dust-up comes as Biden is expected to win South Carolina’s primary election. He currently leads his Democrat presidential primary opponents by 18 points, according to a Clemson University poll released Wednesday.