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Republican race-baiting strategies land Senate hopeful Pete Hoekstra in hot water

DETROIT (Tell Us USA) - After criticism of a Senate campaign ad, GOP Senate hopeful Pete Hoekstra began taking heat when his race-baiting strategy targeting Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow backfired. Protest grew louder once voters had a chance to see the commercial featuring a young Asian woman talking in broken English about China taking away American jobs. Some warned it could revive discrimination against Asian-Americans.

Stabenow criticized the ad's "divisiveness" and said Hoekstra should be "embarrassed."

The ad was created by media strategist Fred Davis of California-based Strategic Perception Inc., known for both Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's successful "one tough nerd" ads and for the 2010 "demon sheep" web ad attacking Tom Campbell in California's Republican Senate primary.

Tell Us Detroit columnist Tom Watkins states, "As a candidate, one should seek to stand out from the crowd for positive, not negative, reasons. The Hoekstra ad, while it may strike a chord for those looking to place blame for our economic downturn, is as inappropriate as it is culturally and racially insensitive."

Hoekstra told reporters Monday that his ad's "insensitive" only to the spending philosophy of Stabenow and Democratic President Barack Obama.

Several Detroit pastors called for Hoekstra to pull the ad, as did the Michigan Roundtable and the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission.

"We knew we were taking an aggressive approach on this. But this is a time where the people in Michigan and across the country are fed up with the spending, and we wanted to capture that frustration that they had with Washington, D.C.," he said. "This ad ... hits Debbie smack dab between the eyes on the issue where she is vulnerable with the voters of Michigan, and that is spending."

The Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President of the Detroit Branch NAACP said, The last thing that our political landscape needs is more vitriolic rhetoric, racial stereotyping and pitting one group of Americans against another. The use of an Asian woman speaking broken English in a rice paddy on a bicycle to describe how bad our economy and political leadership is while referring to Senator Debbie Stabenow as Senator Debbie “SPEND-IT-NOW” is disrespectful and racially charged.

“We have every right in today’s global economy to expect our leaders to be sensitive to diversity issues and the use of stereotypes to make political points... If candidate Hoekstra wishes to support a particular political position, he can do so in many ways that does not play upon racial stereotypes,” said Thomas Costello, President and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable.

California Sen. Leland Yee, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs, said Hoekstra should apologize.

Neither Detroit Mayor Dave Bing or Michigan Governor Rick released statements to Tell Us Detroit regarding this matter.



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