Meet the Conservatives Running Anti-Obama Ads on BET in Ohio

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 19 2012 3:09 PM

Meet the Conservatives Running Anti-Obama Ads on BET in Ohio

The 30-second ad is black and white, which would make it stand out even if the content was drab. But it isn't drab. Two young black people, a man and a woman, decry Barack Obama's record on their issues.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

"What has he done as president?" asks the female member of the pair.

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"Cut aid to black colleges," says the male. "Cut aid to black businesses."

"And his support of gay marriage is a slap in the face to people of faith."

The ad is paid for by Pivot Point, a PAC that launched earlier this year. It's raised less than $15,000, but that's more than enough to put it on the air in two markets -- the Seattle area, where the PAC managers live, and Cleveland. In both markets, it's playing on BET for next to nothing. I called Dave Shemwell, the scientist who runs the PAC in his spare time.

"I've been working with a fellow named Wayne Perryman, a local black evangelical pastor in Washington state who's been active in gang outreach and various religious outreach programs," said Shemwell. (The PAC chairman is white.) "Since he's also a Romney supporter, I said I want to reach out into communities that are not Republican. I started talking about jobs, and all the things that people have in common, and he said: You're not going to reach anyone that way."

So they cut a more personal ad, thinking of what might appeal to black voters who think that "despite being the first African-American president, Barack Obama hasn't done anything to help the African-American community. One of the focus groups on Fox News had a black guy who said: Nobody is even talking to us. And that's the problem. There are people who are exactly like us in their conservative stances, but who we can't get to vote our way."

The tiny PAC can run a serious number of ads. "The campaigns have not exactly flooded BET," said Shemwell. "We could buy a national ad for $2000 on that network. But we're focusing on Ohio next, because 50,000 votes in that state could be a big deal this year."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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