DETROIT (AP) – Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James of Michigan said Monday he made a “terrible error” by inadvertently showing a swastika in his campaign’s first TV ad of the general election.
The ad began airing two weeks ago and already was being phased out for a new one, James said, when a left-leaning blog and then the liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan brought attention to the image on Monday. It is briefly shown on a bulletin board in a school hallway while James talks off-screen about failing schools. He said the scene is from stock footage.
“I need to fess up and admit this was a terrible error on our part,” James, a businessman and military veteran, said during a news conference that was held at his campaign headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Livonia hours after he and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow met for a debate . “We should have caught this error and we didn’t, and there’s no excuse. I’m responsible for everything that our team does and fails to do, and I will do everything in my power to make sure this never, ever happens again.”
Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, said ensuring that symbols of hate speech and genocide are not in political ads “should be a pretty basic thing to figure out.”
“His team is either too lazy to spot check their ads or they’re willfully pushing out this type of imagery,” he said. “Either way, it’s a problem and shows James’ lack of preparedness for the United States Senate.”
James, who is black, said implying that he supports racism is an “indication of how low people are willing to go” to get Stabenow re-elected to a fourth term.
“I absolutely do not approve of hatred or bigotry in any form,” he said.
Stabenow’s campaign did not comment on the ad.