Obama hand in air, flag in background 311.
(photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
CHARLESTON, West Virginia — A West Virginia group led by Republican activists associated with the anti-establishment tea party movement is running an ad trying to link a longtime Democratic congressman to US President Barack Obama, emphasizing the congressman's Arab-American ancestry.
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One of the leaders of the group paying for the ad, West Virginia Conservative Foundation, also contributes to a blog that has targeted Rep. Nick Rahall, a Christian of Lebanese descent, and suggested he has ties to terrorists or their supporters.
In the ad, ominous music plays as Rahall discusses his chairmanship of the Arab-Americans for Obama group when Obama was a presidential candidate. The ad ends asking viewers to call Rahall and "tell him to stand with West Virginians."
The 61-year-old Rahall, a Presbyterian, is vying for an 18th US House term in the state's southern 3rd Congressional District. He faces Republican and former state Supreme Court Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard, whose campaign didn't immediately comment on the ad.
The conservative group spent more than $227,000 on the ad, but declined to reveal its donors.
Lance Eric Schultz and Nathaniel "Thorney" Lieberman, Charleston-based Republicans and tea party activists, are listed as the group's current leaders. A photographer, Lieberman's work and activism appears on a blog that routinely attacks Arabs and Muslims, particularly on topics involving Israel.
The blog also promotes the view that Obama is a Muslim who may not have been born in the US.
The president is considered unpopular in West Virginia. He failed to win
in 2008 and state Republicans have seized on the president's low
approval ratings in several races, including Rahall's.
State Republican Party Chairman Mike Stuart, who founded the
conservative group, distanced himself from both the ad and the group
"I don't support that ad in any way, shape or form," said Stuart, who
became party chief in July. "I abhor that sort of thing."