A Republican super PAC balked at demands from Barack Obama‘s camp to stop airing a misleading television ad featuring the former POTUS.
In a letter, the Committee to Defend the President argued the ad, which had been aired in South Carolina since February, “is a lawful expression of political speech” and that it had no plans to yank it, The Hill reports.
“CDP will not only refuse to take ‘Enough Empty Promises’ down but will also distribute this advertisement to an additional 50,000 South Carolina Democratic primary voters,” the group wrote in response to a cease-and-desist letter sent by Obama’s lawyers last week.
The organization, headed by former Republican Colorado Rep. Ted Harvey, has thrown its full support behind President Donald Trump‘s re-election bid.
“CDP rejects these banal attempts to abuse the legal process and shut down grassroots-driven political speech your firm disagrees with — as doing so is wholly un-American,” it adds. “Our commitment to free political speech is absolute.”
The group was recently hit with a cease-and-desist letter after airing a political ad featuring excerpts from Obama’s 1995 memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” taking portions of the best-selling book out of context. The 30-second video twists the former president’s words, making it appear as if he’s attacking his former vice president, presidential hopeful Joe Biden.
“Joe Biden promised to help our community. It was a lie. Here’s President Obama,” the ad‘s narration begins.
It then plays an excerpt of Obama reading a quote from a figure in his book called “Smitty the Barber.”
“Plantation politics. Black people in the worst jobs. The worst housing. Police brutality rampant. But when so-called black committeemen came around election time, we’d all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey,” Obama says in the audio, which presents the quote as if those are Obama’s own words and not those of Smitty.
A spokesperson for Obama condemned the ad as “despicable” and a move “straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook.” Lawyers for the ex-POTUS also slammed the super PAC for unauthorized use of Obama’s “name, image, likeness, voice and book passage.”
“In the interest of truth in advertising, we are calling on TV stations to take this ad down and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate,” spokeswoman Katie Hill said in a statement last week.
Biden, 77, came out on top in the South Carolina Democratic primary Saturday, marking his first major victory on the campaign trail.
Watch more in the video below.