The Republican strategist behind a proposed ad campaign focused on the relationship between President Barack Obama and his controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is offering a mea culpa of sorts.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times' Mark Z. Barabak, Fred Davis, the Los Angeles-based ad maker who pitched the $10 million ad campaign aimed at raising questions about Obama's character, says his proposal was purposely over the top and intended only as an "intriguing way" to get his foot in the door with a potential super PAC donor.
Davis, a veteran media strategist who previously worked for John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, says he regrets that his proposal was ever made public and insists he wasn't trying to make a racial appeal by linking Obama to Wright.
"I am maybe the only person in America who didn't see that as racist," Davis tells the Times. "I saw it as an interesting fact in a guy's upbringing and the way he's formed his opinions."
First reported by the New York Times, Davis's 54-page proposal, titled "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama," proposed using Wright's incendiary sermons to attack Obama, who was described in the plan as a "metrosexual black Abe Lincoln."
The proposal trashed McCain for declining to use Wright against Obama in 2008, describing the Arizona senator as a "a crusty old politician who often seemed confused, burdened with a campaign just as confused."
Davis made his pitch to Joe Ricketts, a Chicago billionaire who has donated millions to conservative political groups. But after the plan was leaked to the New York Times, Ricketts disavowed the effort— as did Mitt Romney, who rejected any GOP efforts to use Wright against Obama.
Davis, who is known as "Hollywood Fred" for the flashy ad campaigns he's developed for Republican candidates around the country, tells the Times he's received death threats since his proposed ad campaign was made public and has lost 10 pounds because of stress.
But his biggest regret is the people he hurt "big time." That presumably includes McCain, whom Davis says was gracious when he called to apologize.