It seemed like quite an idea. Joe Ricketts, the wealthy AmeriTrade founder whose family owns the Chicago Cubs, would spend $10 million on an ad campaign attacking President Obama over his former pastor. "The Ricketts Plan" would rely on hire an "extremely literate conservative African-American" as its spokesperson, who would accuse Obama of being a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln."
What could possibly go wrong?
Alas, the plan was short lived. After this morning's New York Times report, which we discussed earlier, caused quite a stir in the political world, the "Ending Spending Action Fund" issued a statement on Ricketts' behalf this afternoon, distancing the wealthy conservative donor from the Jeremiah Wright-focused smear campaign. The statement reads in full:
"Joe Ricketts is a registered independent, a fiscal conservative, and an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the so-called "Ricketts Plan" to defeat Mr. Obama that The New York Times wrote about this morning. Not only was this plan merely a proposal - one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors -- but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take.
"Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a President this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally."
Although this statement suggests that using Wright "reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects," MSNBC's Mark Murray noted that the actual proposal, published by the NYT, contains this line: "Joe Ricketts said it himself: 'If the nation had seen that [Jeremiah Wright] ad, they'd never have elected Barack Obama.'"
Nevertheless, the Wright ads will apparently not air, at least not from this source.