A Republican Senate candidate ran a campaign ad showing an easy-to-miss swastika, but now says it was a 'terrible error'

YouTube/John James/Bill Pugliano/Getty Images/Business InsiderA composite image showing a swastika in GOP Senate Candidate John James’ campaign video and James speaking after winning his primary election in Michigan.
  • Republican Senate candidate John James’ TV campaign ad briefly shows a swastika on a school noticeboard.
  • James said the inclusion was inadvertent and a “terrible error” – “We should have caught this error and we didn’t, and there’s no excuse.”
  • James said the clip was stock footage and said he does “not approve of hatred or bigotry in any form.”

A Republican Senate candidate ran a campaign ad that briefly showed a swastika, which he says was only featured as the result of a “terrible error.”

The ad for John James, a candidate in Michigan, shows an empty school hallway with a swastika pinned on the notice board as James talks, off-screen, about failing schools. James said the scene was stock footage, the Associated Press reported.

James said that the 30-second ad began airing two weeks ago and was already being phased out in favour of a new one when a left-leaning blog brought attention to the image on Monday.

“I need to fess up and admit this was a terrible error on our part,” James said at a news conference, according to the Associated Press.

“We should have caught this error and we didn’t, and there’s no excuse. I’m responsible for everything that our team does and fails to do, and I will do everything in my power to make sure this never, ever happens again.”

The video appears to have been removed from James’ YouTube channel, but the shot in the school hallway can be seen in this clip:

Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, said that James and his team should have spotted the symbol.

“Making sure symbols of hate speech and genocide aren’t in your campaign ads should be a pretty basic thing to figure out, but apparently not for John James,” Scott said.

John JamesBill Pugliano/Getty ImagesJohn James speaks in Detroit, Michigan after winning his primary election in August 2018.

“His team is either too lazy to spot check their ads or they’re wilfully pushing out this type of imagery. Either way, it’s a problem and shows James’ lack of preparedness for the United States Senate.”

James, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, said implying he supports racism is an “indication of how low people are willing to go” to keep him out of Congress.

His opponent, Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, is seeking her fourth term.

“I absolutely do not approve of hatred or bigotry in any form,” he said.

James does not mention Stabenow in the ad, which blames both parties for blighted neighbourhoods, failing schools and “forgotten” veterans.

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