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August 06, 2008

Tinker attacks Cohen over religion

Nikki Tinker race baits Steve Cohen. @ Yahoo! Video

The campaign of Democratic attorney Nikki Tinker is increasingly using issues of race and religion to attack freshman Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a white Jewish congressman representing a majority-black Memphis district.

Just days after airing a racially charged ad connecting Cohen with the Ku Klux Klan, the Tinker campaign is up with a new ad not-too-subtly questioning his religious convictions.

“Who is the real Steve Cohen, anyway?” a narrator says as a child is heard praying in the background . “While he’s in our churches clapping his hands and tapping his feet, he’s the only senator who thought our kids shouldn’t be allowed to pray in school. Congressman, sometimes apologies just aren’t enough.”

The apology line appears to be a veiled reference to Cohen’s just-passed legislation in Congress that apologizes to African-Americans for the “fundamental injustice” of slavery and racial segregation.

"He’s never voted against prayer in school. It’s an out-and-out lie. This is desperation upon desperation," said Cohen campaign manager Jerry Austin.  Cohen planned to hold a press conference Wednesday morning to respond to the new ad.

Cohen already has been the target of an anti-Semitic mailer was distributed earlier this year in the district.  The flier said that "Cohen and the Jews HATE Jesus" and called upon "Black Christians" to support one "Black Christian" and oppose "this opponent of Christ and Christianity."

Tinker is facing Cohen in a rematch of their 2006 primary. Until this week, she had been running a low-profile primary campaign, concentrating on biographical spots. The primary is Thursday.

UPDATE: EMILY’s List president Ellen Malcolm issued a statement Wednesday evening condemning Tinker’s most recent ad.  The group, which endorses Democratic women who favor abortion rights, has been Tinker's most prominent backer.

“We were shocked to see the recent ads run by the Nikki Tinker for Congress campaign. We believe the ads are offensive and divisive,” said Malcolm. "EMILY's List does not condone or support these types of attacks.”

UPDATE 2: Tinker's campaign has removed the campaign ad from YouTube, which it had posted earlier today.  It received over 10,000 hits on YouTube after being up for less than a day.