Great America Alliance, a pro-Trump PAC, has taken a snippet from Barack Obama’s audiobook Dreams of My Father out of context, in an effort to convince black voters to vote for Republican nominee Karen Handel in Georgia’s special election.
According to the Washington Post, the excerpt in question comes from a section of Obama’s autobiography in which his barber, Smitty, is discussing racial tensions in Chicago in the early 1980s. As is required for someone narrating an audiobook, Obama reads out loud what his barber said. Great America Alliance lifted that audio and used it in an attack ad, arguing that Democrats take black voters for granted.
Per the Post, the original scene from Dreams of My Father is below:
“Had to be here before Harold to understand what he means to this city,” Smitty said. “Before Harold, seemed like we’d always be second-class citizens.”
“Plantation politics,” the man with the newspaper said.
“That’s just what it was, too,” Smitty said. “A plantation. Black people in the worst jobs. The worst housing. Police brutality rampant. But when the so-called black committeemen came around election time, we’d all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey. White folks spitting in our faces, and we’d reward ‘em with the vote.”
In context, the words make sense. Also, it’s clear that Obama himself isn’t the one saying it. Eric Schultz, senior adviser to Obama told CNN that the ad was a “shameful, indefensible tactic that should never be heard on public airwaves,” calling the willful use of Obama’s voice out of context a form of “voter suppression.”
While Schultz is certainly correct, Eric Beach, the co-chair of Great America Alliance, disagreed. He told CNN that the ad was a stab at an “outside the box” attempt to show the Democrats’ history with black voters. “It’s like any ad, those are his words and we want to use his words and I’ll leave it at that,” he said.
Karen Handel, a woman who has been endorsed by Donald Trump and whose husband shared a racially charged voting meme last month, will face Jon Ossoff in the runoff election for Tom Price’s vacated House seat today.