The National Republican Senatorial Committee is pulling its "Stop Obama" ad off the air in West Virginia amid a controversy over a casting call that reportedly asked for actors with a "'hicky' blue collar look."
GOP Senate candidate John Raese called the ad ridiculous in an apparent attempt to distance himself from the hullabaloo.
"The ad is ridiculous and I am happy to say that no one with the Raese campaign had anything to do with it. As a matter of fact, we asked that it be taken down long before it went public," said Raese's spokesman, Kevin McLaughlin. "But this campaign isn't about TV ads, it's about the 7,169 West Virginia seniors who are being told they are losing their health coverage because of Obamacare that Joe Manchin rubber stamped."
The ad's existence first was reported by Politico's Mike Allen. According to his report, the casting call for the ad asked for actors with a "'hicky' blue collar look ... think coal miner/trucker looks."
It's not unusual for ads to feature actors; the "Stop Obama" ad included professional actors and was made in Philadelphia.
But Gov. Manchin, whose standing in the polls has plummeted amid an anti-Washington wave, told ABC News that the ad was insulting to West Virginians because of how the casting call was worded.
"I wouldn't have been upset if they said we want coal miners and truckers," Manchin said. "Those are two of the most honorable professions we have -- hard-working people. But to cast that in such a disparaging light is just awful."
Playing on the rising disapproval in West Virginia against President Obama's agenda, the ad portrayed Manchin as a governor who may be popular in his home state, but who will likely turn into an Obama clone -- or "Washington Joe" -- once he gets to Washington.
The ad, which has been removed from YouTube, showed two men in a coffee shop talking about President Obama's policies that Manchin has supported.
"Joe's not bad as governor but when he's with Obama, he turns into 'Washington Joe,'" said one actor.
"We better keep Joe Manchin right here in West Virginia," one man says. "It's the only way we're going to stop Obama."
Manchin said Raese should apologize to the citizens of West Virginia for the advertisement.
"I mean, that's not right. That's not who we are. And I would hope it's not who he is," Manchin said.
NRSC officials told ABC News that the ad in question is being aired by the NRSC's independent expenditure unit, which is legally separate from the NRSC. That unit contracted with a GOP consulting firm, Jamestown Associates, to produce the "hicky" ad. Jamestown Associates, in turn, contacted an outside talent agency in Philadelphia.
Jamestown Associate's outline, provided to ABC News, didn't mention the word "hicky."
The radio version of the ad is still online.
Republicans are pouring millions of dollars into the West Virginia Senate race between businessman Raese and Manchin, and it has quickly heated up.
The NRSC reportedly plans to contribute a total of $1.3 million into Raese's campaign.
Manchin was considered a shoo-in for the seat occupied by the late Sen. Robert Byrd. His ratings as governor are high and Democrats have held on to that seat for half a century -- Byrd was the longest serving senator in U.S. history.