POLL: Is U.S. Senate Candidate Hoekstra in Bounds or Over the Line?

Republican from Holland defends his Asian-theme ad shown during the Super Bowl that is provoking outcry.

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."

hartland eagle February 06, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Union supporter - great. lots of her constituents are union members. Obama supporter - great. he's the head of her party. what else would you expect? Tax increase supporter - great. 66% of the public supports tax increases on the wealthy Unrealistic fuel economy supporter - what's unrealistic? the big 3 helped develop them and support the standards. You know something they don't? False concept of global warming supporer - uh huh. No one, I repeat, no one disputes that the earth is getting warmer. The dispute is over whether it's caused by man. Supports Obama care - great. It's got a lot of very good things about it. Supports agricultural subsidies - fine. to some extent we need them. especially for small farmers. Supports ethanol subsidies - yesterday's news. subsidies expired last month "Absolutely no accomplishments" - generalize much? For one, she authored Cash for Clunkers
Nate Ross February 06, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I assume the broken English is the point of offense. If so, would it be racist if she spoke Mandarin with subtitles? If ethnically identifiable accents are racist why is there not the same outcry over shows and movies that employ the same license? Is it only offensive if it is affected?
Sharon MacDonell February 06, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Stereotypes used to amuse and help whip up ant-Chinese sentiment. This isn't a direct attack on a politician - it's an intentional hit on China and smears a politician using xenophobic fears and stereotypes. It was used in 1800s, 1900s and got 120,000 Americans in internment camps during the war. That's all.
Sharon MacDonell February 06, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Research Yellow Peril.
Mike February 06, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Perhaps the add should have used a flock of Chinese workers collecting their meager wages while shipping low quality toxic products to America. Or sailors on China's new Air Craft Carrier thanking American for paying the interest on all of that debt China has purchased. Senator Stabenow has done nothing in Washington except promote the welfare state, cradle to grave care, unrealistic environmental rules, weak foreign policy, protect the murder of the most innocent, and increased slavery in the form of socialism.
Sharon MacDonell February 06, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Alan Stamm February 06, 2012 at 11:40 PM
In respoinse to Janet's straightforward question, which is also addressed by Sharon, here are explanations today from two national figures: * "I would hope that in this day in age, especially from a California company [the ad agency], we were beyond the use of caricatures in political advertisements," -- U.S. Sen. Leland Yee, D-CA * "Of course some parts of southern China look the way this ad does, with rice paddies, palm trees, no big buildings, people wearing conical straw hats and bicycling along dike tops. But this is nothing like how the typical big-factory zone looks in China, or the huge cities that would exemplify Chinese wealth and the country's rise -- ie, the subjects of this ad. So why this rural setting? I think it's because it offers a kind of visual dog-whistle for those Americans who, either through experience or through Apocalypse Now-style imagery, associate smiling-but-deceptive Asians in a rice-paddy setting with previous American sorrow.. . . . Its images are about -- 'Nam!!" -- James Fallows, author/blogger who has reported extensively from China
Sharon MacDonell February 06, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I'm hearing Fox News reruns!!!!
Sharon MacDonell February 06, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Mike, where do you shop for non-Chinese stuff?
Sharon MacDonell February 06, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Well if you think a single Asian American sees that and doesn't feel disgust, and attacked, yer nuts
Stan February 07, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Why can't a candidate (Hoekstra) just run on ideas that he may bring to the Senate to distingquish himself from his opponent, instead of starting out with a smear campaign.Apparently he doesn thave anything new to offer. And I am a Republican voter Janet.
Roger Gienapp February 07, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Hoekstra's ad is not "ver the line".....there is no line anymore. Politics is no longer about ideas or policy positions, it's about alpha male dominance of whoever is the opponent. Winning is all that matters and there is no line that can't be crossed in pursuit of that goal.
Nate Ross February 07, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Clearly the lines are drawn, however, it seems to me perhaps that Chinese outsourcing coupled with buying sovereign debt makes a tough combination. Although outsourcing isnt in the government's ability to directly control, spending is. I think that's the key message. Perhaps it would have been more sensitive to have it set in a major city like Wuhan, and perhaps to have the person speak Mandarin with subtitles. I think the point of cultural queues is perhaps true, but it's a stretch to call it racist simply because of that. If it was an Asian on the street of a bustling metropolis, it would have just been confusing. I agree with Stan to a certain extent... You can't just say "I'm to going to spend money" because that is disingenuous. How is he going to spend the money differently?
Sharon MacDonell February 07, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Janet, my husband is Japanese American. He wouldn't have to say that but some people see race first and ask him "where he's from." My kids are from China. What you don't know is a lot.
Sharon MacDonell February 07, 2012 at 01:43 AM
And to go for your little malaprop -- we are segregated by hyphens, lady. And people like Hoekstra, YOU and this filthy ad KEEP THE HYPHENS ALIVE.
Sharon MacDonell February 07, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Are you a recognizable minority?
Sharon MacDonell February 07, 2012 at 02:01 AM
One thing I can tell about you Janet, is that you don't listen. You asked a lot of questions and took no interest in any of the answers. Do you know what Yellow Peril means?
hartland eagle February 07, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Clearly she's referring to you, Janet - you actually can't recognize that? You basically called Brian a brown-shirt. Which, for those of you following along at home, is a Nazi. Janet called someone with political opinions that about half of this country agree with - a Nazi. A Nazi. Wow. That's insulting on multiple fronts, but that's what passes for political discourse nowadays. She also called him anti-American, and anti-Christian for his views. Honestly, anti-American? Wow. Just wow. He has reasonable, mainstream views, which happen to differ from yours, and that's somehow anti-American? He wants America to fail. Honestly? That's really what you think? Wow. Just wow. And Stabenow is a "tyrant". Suggest you google tyrant. The "we" is you, Janet.
Matt Guarnieri February 07, 2012 at 02:31 AM
The add was obvious parody, not racist. It may have been parody in bad taste but it was sort of truthful and also informative. Keep up the good fight Janet. Your speaking facts. The earth has been cooling since 1997. The liberals speak in opinions and lies.
Ann Wisniewski February 07, 2012 at 02:32 AM
These Republicans today have become so insensitive and negative and hateful that they have destroyed their Ronald Reagan reputation. You are right, Stan, whatever happened to having a respectful and honest debate on the issues without all the name-calling and false accusations? Why would anyone who thinks fairly and clearly reward such tactics. This divisive rhetoric creates a disrespect of the very office these politicians are trying to win. I don't always support the Democrats, but generally the Democrats of today present a much more reasonable and optimistic vision for the future. Republicans need to do some "soul-searching" of their own party before they try to "save the soul of the country".
Jerry Grady February 07, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Patch please shut comments down. This is ridiculous. Between Janet, jorden, and heartland eagle I'm about days away of taking myself off patch. This was meant to be a good source of local news, not a political agenda engine where cyber bulling rules.
Sharon MacDonell February 07, 2012 at 03:10 AM
I'll give it one more shot. I saw the website before the ad. It is even worse. It is here. I don't have issues. I have empathy and decency. BBut if you think think the website isn't troubling, then fine. I give up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N2E93VzQSA
Sharon MacDonell February 07, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Oops! Wrong websit. Well, that's a laugh for you. Here's Hoekstra's site: http://www.debbiespenditnow.com/
Sharon MacDonell February 07, 2012 at 03:13 AM
From National Journal: Former Michigan GOP Rep. Pete Hoekstra is being castigated by both Democrats and Republicans for a controversial television ad that, while attacking Sen. Debbie Stabenow for her record on jobs, also caricatures Asian stereotypes. While Hoekstra's ad contains an underlying theme that has the potential to resonate with working-class voters, the delivery of the ad ensures that its presentation will overshadow its policy message. And that's bad news for Hoekstra.
Jerry Grady February 07, 2012 at 03:14 AM
When it is done in a fair and honest way with out the personal attacks, name calling, and it is debated in a positive way.
iam sumbody February 07, 2012 at 03:23 AM
shame on the patch for allowing such obvisouly trolling tactics such as janet... an obvious member of westboro baptist church who hides behind internet anonymity
Maggie February 07, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Janet you are awesome! You go girl and don't let these people tell you you're wrong! Keep it up!
Sharon MacDonell February 07, 2012 at 03:32 AM
From Conservative blog: http://hotair.com/archives/2012/02/05/the-worst-political-ad-of-2012/ Usually when you see a title like this, you expect to see something coming from the Democrats. But lending credence to the theory that “Dumb Happens” in all segments of society, we find this advertisement which is allegedly slated to run this evening during the Super Bowl. It’s brought to us by Pete Hoekstra, running against Sen. Debbie Stabenow. It seeks to drive home the message of reckless Washington spending and the dangers of borrowing too much money from foreign governments. Unfortunately, as you will see, the method employed misses the mark of solid common sense in campaign advertising by a fair bit. The team is describing it as satire, but there’s absolutely no way this doesn’t just fan the flames and come off as racist. Particularly since the actress in question apparently doesn’t even have an accent. Watch for yourself. This seems destined to jump into the history books alongside, “I’m not a witch.”
Sharon MacDonell February 07, 2012 at 03:33 AM
That website isn't a step far, Janet?
Nancy Hanus February 07, 2012 at 03:37 AM
We really do encourage debate, but when a comment string gets so mean-spirited and off topic, we have no choice but to close it down. We really expect respectful discussion, and this discussion has disintegrated. Thanks to those of you who have tried to get things back on topic.


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