GOP Candidate Dan Fanelli Backs Racial Profiling in Ad

Dan Fanelli, a Florida Republican hoping to emerge from a competitive Republican primary field to challenge Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, has released an ad in which he appears to argue that the United States should engage in racial profiling to fight terror.

"Does this look like a terrorist?" he asks in the spot, pointing at a white-haired white man in a tie. Then a darker-skinned man in a black t-shirt enters the frame as Fanelli asks, "or this?"

"It's time to stop this political correctness and the invasion of our privacy," he says. He then goes on to make an apparent joke about how he wouldn't mind being pulled out of line at the airport if "a good looking, ripped guy without much hair was flying airplanes into the twin towers."

The Washington Post's Greg Sargent, who first flagged the spot, interviewed Fanelli about it. The candidate, a pilot, insisted the spot wasn't intended to suggest that people with darker skin are more likely to be terrorists. The point, he said, was that people from countries like Iran and Iraq require more security.

"You can be light and from those countries," he said.

Fanelli also argued that people from the Middle East should support profiling.

"If the people that were doing this kind of thing looked like me, even though I'm not the guy doing the terrorist thing I would want to be examined more closely," he told Sargent.

Contacted for comment, Julie Tagen, a senior advisor to Grayson's campaign, said that "Mr. Fanelli is running in a very crowded Republican field."

"In the highly-unlikely event that he wins the nomination, Congressman Grayson will comment on his ads, however misguided or offensive they are," she said.