Paulsen campaign accused of darkening Madia's skin in TV ad


Madia gets O.J.'ed!

The U.S. 3rd District Republican candidate Erik Paulsen is being accused of some heavy manipulation in one of his latest ads. And it's not just facts he is distorting. It's his Democratic opponent's skin color. A KARE11 story yesterday cites several independent media experts confirming that the ad darkened Madia's skin.

Here is the KARE11 report:

Here is the original ad:


According to the report, the Paulsen campaign stands by the ad. The Democrats are not happy. Here is what the MN DFL had to say:

Minnesota and national Republicans desperate to hold onto the state’s Third Congressional District seat have stooped to new lows.

A report on Twin Cities-based KARE-11 news this evening cites two independent sources who say that a new television ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) darkens the skin tone of DFL congressional candidate Ashwin Madia (MN-03), who is of Asian Indian American background.

Professor Clay Steinman of Macalester College, who teaches about mass-media messaging and consumer responses, is featured in the story. Steinman said:

“Even if we think that we are not racist, people of all races, when confronted with images that are darker and different, have a kind of visceral, negative response.”

Croman also quoted Dean Alger, a political-advertising expert and media consultant, as saying:

“Distortions and exaggerations are a part of the game. But in his words, the darkening of the Democrat’s photos are beyond distortion and are what he calls a subtle effort to convey the message that Ashwin Madia is different.”

KARE-11’s report tonight follows a press conference earlier this month at which Minnesota GOP officials declared that Madia did not fit the district from a “lifestyle” or “demographic standpoint” — or, in the words of Minnesota GOP Chairman Ron Carey, Madia is “not one of them.” The Star Tribune reported:

“Meanwhile, a Paulsen surrogate, state Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Minn., took the podium at a news conference last week to question Madia’s ties to the district because, among other things, he has not raised a family there or paid a mortgage or gone to a PTA meeting. State GOP chairman Ron Carey also recently urged voters to examine ‘the demographic standpoint’ of the candidates to determine which one to vote for.” [Star Tribune, 10/5/08]

The DFL also provided links to the original photos here, here and here.

Yikes. This campaign has already produced some passively racist statements that would suggest Madia isn't a right fit for the district. This sort of campaigning, along with what has been happening around the country during the Barack Obama campaign are frightening and sending us backwards in our work towards diversity. Our country will have a lot of healing to do after next Tuesday.