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Politics of vouching: the inflammatory ‘Debbie Spend it Now’ ad and CD-19


Beware of who vouches for you. Their baggage can come with their praise.

So it is with political newcomer Curt Clawson.

Yesterday the congressional campaign for the political newcomer had to explain to The Buzz that Clawson’s really a good Republican – even though his only federal political contribution on record was made to a Democrat in another state, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

So to vouch for Clawson, the campaign used her opponent, Republican Pete Hoekstra.

But that raises a host of other issues. Hoekstra is the former Senate candidate whose campaign went up in flames when he released an inflammatory – and, in the words of critics, “racist” – ad called “Debbie Spend it Now.” Featuring an Asian actress speaking in a broken Chinese accent, the ad tried to tie Stabenow to over-spending and, therefore, U.S. debt owned by China.

The outcry was immediate. Asian-American groups protested. And the actress who cut the spot apologized.

Clawson's campaign said in a statement: "Rep. Hoekstra's opinion is relevant simply because it was the campaign in question. If he as the candidate understands then others should as well. The fact that Curt has made only a single political donation in his life only proves that he truly is a political outsider and a breath of fresh air that is needed in Washington."

There are other Hoekstra ties to Clawson’s campaign. Clawson and Hoekstra share a consultant, John Yob. And that Debbie Spend it Now ad ran during the Super Bowl, so did Clawson’s first ad, challenging the president to a 3-point competition. Unlike Debbie Spend it Now, that ad wasn't offensive and even led a bored White House press corps to ask if the president would take on Clawson.

Clawson also smartly welcomed Florida Senate Republican leader Lizbeth Benacquisto to the race this week when she announced she'd also run for the Fort Myers-based 19th congressional district. He said they should run a clean campaign and minimize special interests.

"Part of the problem with government is lobbyists and special interests that pull the strings of too many career politicians,” Clawson said.

Well, his pal Hoekstra should know all about that. Hoekstra began working for a high-powered DC lobbying firm ever since he left the U.S. House.

Here's Clawson's ad:

And here's Debbie Spend it Now: