Former President Barack Obama plans to send a cease-and-desist letter to television stations in South Carolina if the stations don’t stop running an advertisement that uses some of his words to attack Joe Biden, the vice president during the Obama administration.
The ad comes from a super political action committee (PAC) called the Committee to Defend the President. It started airing this week in South Carolina ahead of the Feb. 29 Democratic primary.
The ad quotes from Obama’s 1995 memoir, “Dreams of My Father,” in attacking Biden.
“Joe Biden promised to help our community. It was a lie. Here’s President Obama,” a narrator says at the opening of the 30-second video, before Obama is heard reading from his book.
A spokeswoman for Obama alleged that the former president’s words were twisted.
“This despicable ad is straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook, and it’s clearly designed to suppress turnout among minority voters in South Carolina by taking President Obama’s voice out of context and twisting his words to mislead viewers,” Katie Hill, the spokeswoman, said in a statement sent to news outlets.
She said television stations should stop running the ad “in the interest of truth in advertising” and to “stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate.”
Biden’s campaign also criticized the ad. A campaign spokesman said in a statement to outlets that the ad showed President Donald Trump and his allies are “absolutely terrified” that Biden might win the Democratic nomination.
“This latest intervention in the Democratic primary is one of the most desperate yet, a despicable torrent of misinformation by the president’s lackeys. It spotlights yet again what we’ve all known for a very long time: Joe Biden will win this battle for the soul of our nation,” he said.
In a statement sent to outlets, a spokesman for the super PAC said it “has a long history of taking on Joe Biden, beyond Nevada and South Carolina.”
“President Obama made a point in his book about Democrats paying lip-service to the African American community, and we believe his point applies perfectly to Joe Biden,” the spokesman said.
“It took President Trump to lower black unemployment and create jobs for the African American community, in addition to passing criminal justice reform. Joe Biden, on the other hand, is simply giving lip-service for votes. That’s the point President Obama made in his book, and we have every right to use his own words—in his own voice—in the political forum.”
Obama’s likeness has been used by some of Biden’s Democratic rivals, including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The former president hasn’t yet asked any of those contenders to pull those ads.
Obama hasn’t endorsed any candidate.
“President Obama has several friends in this race, including, of course, his own esteemed vice president,” Hill, Obama’s spokeswoman, said in her statement. “He has said he has no plans to endorse in the primary because he believes that in order for Democrats to be successful this fall, voters must choose their nominee.”