GOP donor: I don't support ad campaign tying Obama to Jeremiah Wright
Updated: 3:16 p.m. ET
(CBS News) Conservative donor Joe Ricketts has rejected a proposed ad campaign that would have hit President Obama for his ties to the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Brian Baker, who alongside Ricketts heads the outside group Ending Spending Action Fund, said the proposal was "only a suggestion" and "never a plan to be accepted."
The planned attack brought forward by an outside vendor "reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects," Baker said in a prepared statement.
The New York Times published a report Thursday detailing a proposal by a group of Republican strategists to launch a $10 million attack on Mr. Obama that would have emphasized the president's former relationship with the controversial preacher.
The Times story details the 54-page-proposal, in which former advisers to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., allegedly criticize the former GOP nominee for his decision during the 2008 campaign not to go after Mr. Obama for his ties to Wright.
"Our plan is to do exactly what John McCain would not let us do: Show the world how Barack Obama's opinions of America and the world were formed," the proposal says, according to the Times. "And why the influence of that misguided mentor and our president's formative years among left-wing intellectuals has brought our country to its knees."
The report also reportedly blasted McCain as "a crusty old politician who often seemed confused, burdened with a campaign just as confused."
Ricketts, the owner of the Chicago Cubs and founder of TD Ameritrade, is listed as one of three leadership members of the Ending Spending Action Fund on the group's website.
Recently, he contributed more than $200,000 toward supporting Deb Fischer in Nebraska's Republican Senate primary. Fischer on Tuesday pulled off an upset victory over two more prominent Republican candidates.
Fred Davis, who oversaw the proposal, told CBS News: "There IS no campaign."
"The document referred to in today's New York Times story was one proposal prepared and submitted by Strategic Perception Inc," Davis said. "The Ricketts family never approved it, and nothing has happened on it since the presentation. The vendors listed were as proposed, and had nothing to do with this proposal."
Responding to the Times story Thursday morning, the Obama campaign blasted what they cast as the "appalling lengths to which Republican operatives and SuperPacs apparently are willing to go to tear down the President and elect Mitt Romney."
"The blueprint for a hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination speaks for itself," Obama for America Campaign Manager Jim Messina said in a statement. "It also reflects how far the party has drifted in four short years since John McCain rejected these very tactics. Once again, Governor Romney has fallen short of the standard that John McCain set, reacting tepidly in a moment that required moral leadership in standing up to the very extreme wing of his own party."
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, after initially telling reporters that he had not yet read the story, later repudiated the proposal.
"I want to make it very clear: I repudiate that effort, I think it's the wrong course for a PAC or a campaign. I hope that our campaigns can respectively be about the future and about issues and about a vision for America," Romney said, before pivoting to criticisms of Mr. Obama's campaign.
Mr. Obama has credited Wright with drawing him to Christianity, but began to distance himself from the controversial reverend before running for president. Wright, who is known for preaching what the New York Times described in 2007 as "Afrocentric theology," has been criticized for allegations of white racism and for controversial statements about 9/11 and the American government.
McCain on Thursday defended his decision not to play up Obama's ties to Wright in 2008.
"I'm proud of our campaign, I believe we did the right thing and I would do it over again, today," McCain said. "And, I noticed that the Romney campaign has repudiated that as well. So, it seems to me the issue's closed."
At a press conference, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was more lighthearted with her response, using reporters' questions about the Times article to take a swipe at the Chicago Cubs.
"What was interesting to me was that this is all going to be funded by the owner of the Chicago Cubs. Well I hope they're as successful with this campaign as the cubs are on the baseball field," she quipped, to laughter. "They ain't got no chance of going to any World Series."
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