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Questions raised about Jim Webb Senate campaign ad
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By EDIE GROSS
The flier put out by Jim Webb's campaign for U.S. Senate described his opponent as a corporate lobbyist who made money by sending American jobs overseas.
But what caught Dan Smolen's attention was the cartoon that accompanied the text: That of a man with a hook nose and money spilling from his pockets.
It was a caricature of Harris Miller, Webb's opponent in Tuesday's Democratic primary who happens to be Jewish.
The image made Smolen, who is Jewish and Stafford County's Democratic chairman, uncomfortable.
"I don't think whoever did the cartoon caricature meant this as an ethnic slur," he said, "but the effect of it was very troubling."
Since seeing the image on the Internet last weekend, Smolen has talked with officials from the Webb campaign, who have assured him that there was no anti-Semitic intent and that the images will not be used again.
But the cartoon and some of the text are still being discussed on various Web sites tracking the campaign.
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Shaun Kenney, chairman of the Spotsylvania Republican Party, accused Webb of "jewbaiting" on his blog, shaunkenney.com.
Webb spokeswoman Kristian Denny-Todd said the flier was printed for an event in Southwest Virginia about two weeks ago. A campaign supporter offered to draw the cartoon, which was not intended to offend anyone, she said.
The cartoon features Webb as a sort of super-hero fighting to keep jobs in America. The text on the flier refers to Miller, a former lobbyist for the IT industry, as the "anti-Christ of outsourcing."
Webb didn't invent that label, Denny-Todd said. Instead, it comes from a column written in January by a senior editor for InformationWeek, a magazine for IT professionals.
"The bottom line was in response to the attacks we've endured by Harris Miller, this was a supporter's way to counteract those that was a little fresh, not just words on paper," she said. "It was never meant to target a specific group."
Scholars of political literature had mixed reactions upon seeing the flier.