In a desperate and vulgar attempt to thwart an increasingly intense senate race in Tennessee, the Republican National Committee released a racially provocative ad last week against Democratic challenger Harold Ford, Jr.
The television ad features several people in mock interviews meant to show Ford as a liberal out of step with average Tennesseans. One of the people "interviewed" is a young blonde white woman with bare shoulders (it is unclear if she is actually wearing anything since the camera only shows her from the collarbone up) who claims she met Ford at a Playboy party. At the end of the ad she says "Harold, call me" while winking at the camera.
Ford, who is 36, single and African American, admitted he attended a Playboy party at last year's Super Bowl but critics have pointed to the ad's obvious racist overtones.
Ford is attempting to become the first African American senator from the south since Reconstruction. His opponent Bob Corker, who has already spent more than $2 million of his own money on the race claims to have nothing to do with the television spot (though he did approve a spot this week that plays tom-tom drums every time Ford's name is mentioned).
John Greer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University says the Playboy ad "is playing to a lot of fears" and "frankly makes the Willie Horton ad look like child's play."