GOP delegate candidate to air graphic anti-abortion ads on D.C. stations
UPDATED 2:30 P.M.
Of all the hot-button national issues that rarely get an airing in overwhelmingly Democratic D.C., abortion is the one that tends to get discussed least of all in city politics.
But not this year: A little-known Republican, Missy Reilly Smith, is pledging to air TV ads featuring graphic images of aborted fetuses on the city's broadcast TV stations starting Monday and she hopes to air them on cable networks as well. She is running for the congressional delegate seat currently held by Eleanor Holmes Norton (D).
"They're going to run as long as the money holds out," Smith said Friday. "They have to run them unedited." Politico's Ben Smith first reported controversy about the ads, writing that Allbritton Communications, owner of WJLA-TV and Politico, had no choice but to air the ads.
The ads are already available on her Web site (viewer discretion well advised). The spots take aim at Democratic leaders national and local: "Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Norton -- they all support the murder of babies and abuse of women by abortion," Smith says in one ad.
Make no mistake: Smith's campaign is all about the unborn. She describes herself on her Web site as "a tea party activist who hates big government, high taxation, socialism, and government bailouts; but she knows that the number one duty of true patriots is to end the legalized slaughter of unborn babies."
Smith is running without the support of the D.C. Republican Committee, the local party organization that generally focuses its attention on pocketbook concerns and good government while taking a libertarian tilt toward social concerns. Virtually all of its recent candidates, for instance, have supported same-sex marriage. This year, the party organization didn't endorse candidates in citywide races, focusing instead on D.C. Council seats, which left an opening for outsider Smith.
Paul Craney, the D.C. GOP's executive director, said today that Smith approached him months ago about her run for Congress.
"I asked her not to run for it ... because she said she wanted to put up ads about abortion on TV," Craney said. "It wasn't really a campaign. It's just ads about abortion. If you want to run a campaign, it's about giving a different set of ideas that's about schools, that's about crime, that's about spending your money better."
"Her tactics seem to be out of sync with the city," Craney added.
Smith's web site does briefly mention support for private school vouchers. Smith said she's lived in the District since she's been a child and currently lives in Cathedral Heights, in Ward 3. This is her first run for public office, she said, though she has been an anti-abortion activist for more than a decade.
Smith says she's currently negotiating with Comcast to air her aids on cable networks in addition to the broadcast buys. "Comedy Central, Jon Stewart -- that is an audience we'd like to touch," she said, explaining that her appeal is targeted at young women.
She says she's confident that Comcast will air the ads: "This is causing such a firestorm that they will jump aboard. This will go national."
How is she paying for the ads? Unclear -- as a federal candidate, Smith is required to file fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission, but no report is available yet on the FEC web site. Smith says she filed yesterday, showing about $15,000 in her coffers. She has targeted Internet appeals at national anti-abortion protesters.
Here is one: "I am running for Congress in Washington D.C. with the express purpose of running political ads on tv of graphic pictures of healthy and dead babies. ... [H]ere I am, Missy "Reilly" Smith, in 'the belly of the beast,' Washington D.C. on the ballot running against big government, pro-child killing, same sex marriage incumbent Eleanor Holmes Norton. ... [T]ell everyone you know to dig deep into their pockets and give until it hurts, as Mother Teresa would say. We know these ads will save babies and get the dialogue started that is so needed. No one can see these ads and not realize that abortion is murder."
Her current fundraising, she said, is enough to air the ads 15 times.
UPDATE, 2:30 P.M.: A WRC-TV spokesman confirms that the station will air the ad:
This is a paid federal candidate advertisement, and federal law requires us to carry it. Given the nature of this ad, the following audio and written message will precede the commercial: "Viewer Warning...The following candidate advertisement includes extremely graphic images that may be disturbing to children and other viewers."
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