Jeremiah Wright is back in the headlines thanks to a new ad by the recently formed National Republican Trust PAC. I spoke over the phone today with the ad's creator, Rick Wilson, a GOP media consultant who is most infamous for a 2002 campaign ad tying then-Senator Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden:
TNR: What made you decide to produce this Wright ad?
Rick Wilson: For a variety of reasons, it was unaddressed and seemingly unaddressable by the McCain campaign. Actual Republicans and Independents out in the world, and frankly a lot of Democrats, take issue with this. You can't treat it lightly when somebody says, "God damn America." There is no way to spin it. No amount of mayonnaise can turn that chicken shit into chicken salad. Obama owns this guy.
Why do you think McCain has largely refrained from mentioning Wright?
I can't speak to internal decision-making on it, but I suspect that the hypersensitivity to being accused of some sort of racial bias at their level was extreme. If you look at the calculation of how a lot of the McCain folks think, that makes sense at the top level. ... McCain has played a lot of D in this campaign.
Do you think that's a good decision?
I'm of the philosophy that you wage a campaign of full engagement and you use every tool in the toolbox. Emerson, I think, said an institution is the length and shadow of one man. McCain is uncomfortable with it, so the whole staff is uncomfortable with it. [McCain spokesman Michael] Goldfarb on CNN, what kind of torture was that? That was agonizing. You're only getting paid for five more days--just say it.
Click here for the rest of our conversation.