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Questions raised over swastika in John James' TV ad

John James, a business executive and Iraq War veteran, speaks to a crowd in Oakland County on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. James is challenging third-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow in the November election.

A progressive watchdog group is calling for a response from a U.S. Senate candidate after what appears to be a swastika was noticed in a campaign ad.

Progress Michigan released a statement Monday afternoon calling Republican U.S. Senate Candidate John James to answer questions. In the ad, ‘Ready to Serve,’ posted by the James’ campaign on YouTube dated Oct. 2, a swastika can be seen in one of the video clips.

The symbol can be seen around the 11-second mark and appears very briefly. During the ad, James makes no reference, instead he talks about ‘failing schools.’

Progress Michigan’s Executive Director Lonnie Scott responded by calling this a problem and wanted to know how a swastika could appear in an ad.

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

In response, James held a press conference Monday evening at his campaign headquarters in Livonia. He said he does not condone any hateful speech or rhetoric and the swastika appearance in the video was an oversight.

“I need to fess up. This was a terrible error on our part. We should have caught this error and we didn’t. There’s no excuse. I am 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.”

James also used the press conference as a platform to unveil a new ad detailing his family history. He said his parents “grew up in the Jim Crow South” and he has no tolerance for hate.

When asked if the ad containing the swastika image would be pulled, James did not give a straight answer.

“The ad is being phased out nationally anyway and this just goes to show you that this is how God works,” James said. “This [the new ad] is something we had previously scheduled, that new ad you see is coming online anyway and I believe this is a perfect opportunity to talk about my father’s story.”

James is running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. This controversy appeared following the second and final debate between the two candidates.

Neither the Michigan Democratic Party nor Stabenow’s campaign had an official statement responding to this issue.


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