This morning on NPR, I heard Renee Montagne and Juan Williams spend about 5 minutes talking about this anti-Obama ad--featuring Jeremiah Wright--from the North Carolina Republican Party. First Montagne and Williams discussed whether the ad would help or hurt John McCain (who's publicly denounced it). Then they discussed how Republicans have recently started to think that Obama is the weaker candidate and would prefer to face him rather than Hillary in November.

What they didn't mention at all is that the North Carolina GOP ad is intended to help Hillary in the May 6 primary. I mean, if the NC GOP really wanted the ad to help McCain, wouldn't they be running this ad in October or November? This is clearly an attempt to play the race and the Wright card against Obama in the hopes of hurting him in the Democratic Primary. Which suggests that there are at least some Republicans out there who still think Obama is the more formidable general election candidate. 

Now, granted, there's nothing Hillary can really do to stop the NC GOP from doing this. If the state party isn't going to abide by McCain and the RNC's demands that they take down the ad, they sure as hell aren't going to listen to Hillary. But it's pretty clear that she's the one who stands to benefit most from this ad.  

Update: Some TalkBackers raise some good points.

timcrim speculates that the ad has nothing to do with Obama or Hillary and is in fact designed to hurt the Democratic gubernatorial candidates. That, of course, is the fig leaf the NC GOP is using for the ad--tying the two leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates, who've endorsed Obama, to Wright. But, if the ad is really intended to damage these two North Carolina Democrats, why run the ad now? Wouldn't it make more sense to wait until one of the two is the nominee and then run the ad closer to the general election.

virginiacentrist and blackton both wonder whether the ad will spark a backlash and drive more black and independent voters to Obama. Perhaps. But I think Obama's support among black North Carolinians is already pretty high. And, while I think the ad could drive more independents to Obama, that could very well be offset and superceded by the folks I think the ad's really intended to sway: conservative Democrats in the eastern part of the state--the so-called Jessecrats who turned out for Jesse Helms over the years. My hunch is a lot of these voters--who are still nominally Democrats--intend to sit out the Democratic Primary, since neither Hillary or Obama is their cup of tea. But if they watch Reverend Wright denounce America enough times, maybe they'll be convinced to go to the polls to vote against Obama. 

--Jason Zengerle