Barack Obama Asks TV Stations Not to Air Misleading Pro-Trump Ad That Uses His Audio to Appear to Criticize Biden

Former President Barack Obama has asked TV stations in South Carolina not to air a new ad from a pro-Trump Super PAC that uses Obama's voice to appear to condemn former Vice President Joe Biden.

The ad, paid for by the Committee to Protect the President, pairs an excerpt from the audiobook version of Obama's memoir Dreams From My Father with images of Biden. The spot opens with a woman's narration introducing Obama.

"Joe Biden promised to help our community. It was a lie—here's Barack Obama."

The clip that follows is an excerpt from Obama's book, where the former president is speaking about "machine politics" in Chicago—a corrupt practice common in Chicago during the late 19th and early 20th century, where an elected leader would give supporters benefits based on their ability to get people to vote for them.

"Plantation politics; black people in the worst jobs, the worst housing. Police brutality rampant. But when the so-called black committeeman came around election time, we'd all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey," Obama said.

While the clip plays, superimposed text reads "Joe Biden joined segregationists," "Joe Biden wrote bill that disproportionately jailed African Americans" and "Joe Biden blamed African American parents for inequality."

In a statement to the Washington Post, Obama's spokesperson, Katie Hill, condemned the spot as "despicable" and "right out of the Republican disinformation playbook."

"It's clearly designed to suppress turnout among minority voters in South Carolina by taking President Obama's voice out of context and twisting his words to mislead viewers. In the interest of truth in advertising, we are calling on TV stations to take this ad down and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate," Hill said.

Obama has yet to endorse any candidate for the presidential race.

Newsweek reached out to Joe Biden for comment.

biden and obama
President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, shown in a file photo as they attend a reception for Hispanic Heritage Month on October 12, 2016, feature in an ad from the Committee to Protect the President, which uses audio from Obama's memoir to make it sound as if the former president is criticizing Biden. Olivier Douliery/Getty

Looking at the claims in the ad, the reference to joining segregationists is about a comment from June 2019, where Biden referred warmly to his relationship with the segregationist senator of Mississippi, James O. Eastland in condemning current political partisanship.

"I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me 'boy,' he always called me 'son,' " Biden said. "You go down the list of all these guys. Well guess what? At least there was some civility," he said. "But today, you look at the other side and you're the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don't talk to each other anymore."

The bill that "disproprotionately jailed African Americans," according to the ad, was the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Biden wrote that bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Jack Brooks of Texas, a Democrat, and signed by President Bill Clinton.

The bill has become controversial since its passing, as critics claim it contributed to mass incarceration with measures like the "three strikes" provision. Later analysis showed the bill also caused a disproportionate increase in the number of minorities in the American prison system.

The claim that Biden blamed African American parents comes from the September 19, 2019 debate. In response to a question about racial inequality in schools, Biden said, in part, "Make sure that every single child does, in fact, have three, four, and five-year-olds go to school. School! Not day care, school. We bring social workers into homes of parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It's not that they don't want to help. They don't know what—they don't know what quite what to do."

Barack Obama Asks TV Stations Not to Air Misleading Pro-Trump Ad That Uses His Audio to Appear to Criticize Biden | U.S.