A Michigan campaign ad first shown during the Super Bowl has people buzzing about Pete Hoekstra, a Republican former congressman from Holland who wants to unseat second-term U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
He mocks her as "Debbie SpendItNow" in the half-minute spot, but that's not what provokes talk locally and nationally. His half-minute ad, which opens with the sound of a gong and other traditionally Asian tones, features an Asian-American actress speaking broken English as she claims "Debbie spends so much American money ... we take your jobs."
Several Detroit pastors issued a statement urging Hoekstra to drop the ad, which is scheduled to run statewide for two weeks on cable TV. The Michigan chapter of a group called Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote says in a three–paragraph statement: "It is very disturbing that Mr. Hoekstra's campaign chose to use harmful negative stereotypes that intrinsically encourage anti-Asian sentiment."
Hoekstra (pronounced HOOK-strah) defends his commercial. "We knew we were taking an aggressive approach," he told reporters Monday in a conference call quoted by Huffington Post. "But this is a time where the people in Michigan and across the country are fed up with the spending, and we wanted to capture that frustration."
Republican consultant Nick De Leeuw of Fowlerville, MI, calls it "appalling" on his Facebook page. "Racism and xenophobia aren't any way to get things done," he adds. And former GOP consultant Mike Murphy of Los Angeles says in a tweet: "Pete Hoekstra Superbowl TV ad in MI Senate race really, really dumb. I mean really."