PARKERSBURG - John Raese's senatorial campaign Friday reacted swiftly to remarks about the "hicky ad" by the president of the AFL-CIO, who called the millionaire "unfit to be senator."
President Richard Trumka, commenting on the ad sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Friday morning said Raese doesn't understand what working families endure because "as he says, he earned his money the old fashioned way, by inheriting it."
"And he doesn't attempt to relate to what they go through because he is too busy in Florida paving his driveway in marble and playing with his 22 cars and boats," Trumka said.
Raese and Democrat Gov. Joe Manchin are running in the special general election for the unexpired term in the U.S. Senate, a vacancy caused by the death of Robert C. Byrd in June. A national pollster says Raese, a wealthy businessman who runs the family-owned Greer Industries in Morgantown, has a 6 point lead over the governor, who in July was considered unbeatable.
An unidentified official with the senatorial committee said the production company, not the committee, wrote the casting call for "hicky" looking actors wearing frayed caps for the ad, which was filmed in Philadelphia.
"Looking for 'hicks' isn't an accident or an isolated issue. It's just the latest example of Raese's cynicism toward working families," Trumka said. "He is unfit to be a senator."
A response from the Raese campaign came from spokesman Kevin McLaughlin.
"It's no surprise that an organization that spent $53 million to elect Barack Obama president and millions more lobbying for Obamacare would endorse a rubber stamp for the Obama administration's radical agenda," McLaughlin said. "Today's job numbers tell us all we need to know about how union leadership is more concerned with partisan politics than they are the needs of hard-working union members across the country."
Manchin, the West Virginia Democratic Party and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Thursday asked for an apology and to pull the ad. McLaughlin Thursday said the campaign had no prior knowledge of the ad and wouldn't have been permitted by law to see it beforehand.
Reports are the ad will be pulled by the committee.
Manchin issued another statement Friday in response to remarks Raese made in an interview with ABC News when he said the ad and ads against him are "just politics."
"Just politics? It may just be politics to John Raese and his Florida friends, but it's something much more to the hard-working people of West Virginia. This isn't about a political campaign, this is about the state of West Virginia and Raese's refusal to condemn his special interest friends for their insulting and offensive stereotypes of our citizens," Manchin said. "But what would he know about how West Virginians feel about being stereotyped as 'hicky.'" He's much happier living in his mansion in Palm Beach."