Pete Hoekstra’s campaign knew its edgy Super Bowl ad would agitate Democrats. What they didn’t expect was the fierce public backlash from members of their own party.
The debut commercial in the Michigan Senate campaign, featuring a young Asian female riding a bicycle through rice paddy fields and speaking broken English, is roiling the Republican ranks and pitting high-profile consultants against one another.
The message of the ad — that China is a continuing threat to American job creation — isn’t as much of an issue as the fact that Hoekstra’s camp seized on stereotypes to drive home its point.
“Thank you, Michigan Sen. Debbie ‘Spend-it-now,’” a smiling Asian woman says to kick off the spot against second-term Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow. “Debbie spends so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs,” the woman says in the ad. The commercial’s imagery produces a knee-jerk objection among critics: The smash of a gong, the straw pointed hat dangling from the woman’s neck and her broken English all smack of xenophobia, they say.