Obama slams 'despicable' TV commercial for using his voice

Former US president Barack Obama has slammed a TV commercial produced by a Republican group which uses his own words to suggest his former Vice President Joe Biden supports “plantation politics”.

The ad, which was disseminated on social media and also aired on TV stations in South Carolina ahead of the states Democratic primary this weekend, has reportedly infuriated Obama whose lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to have the content pulled down, CNN reported.

In the ad, Obama can be heard reading a passage from his 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father, about discrimination against the black community. The ad, however, strongly suggests the words are directed at Biden.

Alongside the online clip, produced by a financial entity that works to help Trump called The Committee to Defend the President, the group claims Biden “joined segregationists, wrote a bill that disproportionately jailed African Americans and blamed black parents for inequality”.

In a previous Democratic debate Biden was attacked by Kamala Harris (who has since dropped out of the race) for working with segregationist senators. The other claim seems to cite the controversial 1994 crime bill that Biden helped write which has contributed to the country’s high rate of incarceration.

Obama dragged into race by ‘despicable’ ad

Obama, who has been content to sit on the sidelines during the early days of the race for the Democratic nomination, released a statement to CNN via a spokesperson condemning the move from the pro-Trump group.

“This despicable ad is straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook, and it's clearly designed to suppress turnout among minority voters in South Carolina by taking President Obama's voice out of context and twisting his words to mislead viewers,” she said.

“In the interest of truth in advertising, we are calling on TV stations to take this ad down and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate.”

In the cease and desist letter, lawyers called the piece of advertising a clear case of misinformation while a spokesperson for Biden lamented the “despicable torrent of misinformation by the President's lackeys”.

Former US President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden in 2014 with his VP Joe Biden. Source: Getty

The ad is ostensibly designed to reduce black voter turnout in South Carolina this weekend when Democratic party members will get their chance to support their favoured candidate.

Biden, who hitherto has enjoyed resounding support among the black community, has seen those particular poll numbers erode in recent weeks after his campaign got off to a slow start.

The state is nearly 30 per cent African American and Biden has staked his race on winning South Carolina –and anything else would be a disaster for him going forward. If Biden can’t rely on winning the black vote, where those votes ultimately end up could be decisive.

Obama reluctant to give endorsement

The Democrats’ most recent president remains a huge figure in the party but has so far declined calls to throw his support behind a particular candidate saying he wants to let the public choose the nominee.

Obama will likely play more of a visible role once a Democratic nominee is chosen and they embark on a presidential campaign against Trump. To date, he has urged voters not to get too hung up on the candidate and called for unity.

Democratic presidential candidates Michael Bloomberg (from left), Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and Tom Steyer. Source: Getty

Who that candidate will be will become much clearer on Wednesday, March 4 (AEST) when we have what’s dubbed Super Tuesday, considered the most important day on the Democratic primary calendar. That’s when more than a dozen states will hold their primaries including hugely influential states like Texas and California.

About a third of all delegates available will be decided on Super Tuesday when there are more than 1,300 votes on offer. If one candidate can build a strong enough lead in delegates (who ultimately decide the candidacy) that would make it tough for others to stay in the race.

The far-left democratic socialist candidate Bernie Sanders continues to lead in the polls and has the most delegates at 45. Followed by Pete Buttigieg with 25, Joe Biden with 15 and Elizabeth Warren who has won eight.

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