Conservatives hire Obama campaign chief linked to homophobic ad
In the run-up to the 2015 general election the Conservative Party has hired on an Obama campaign manager, who was linked last year to a homophobic Senatorial campaign advert.
Jim Messina, campaign manager for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, has been hired as a campaign strategy manager for Conservatives.
Mr Messina told the BBC’s Newsnight: “I have long admired Prime Minister Cameron. While I will not be moving to London, nor will I be managing any type of day to day political operations, I will be offering strategic campaign advice leading up to 2015.”
Mr Baucus discusses an advert which caught the nation’s attention during the 2002 Senatorial Democratic Campaign. It targeted another contender for the Montana Democratic Senator role, Mike Taylor, accusing him of abusing the student loan programme.
The advert itself focuses on footage from an advert for Mr Taylor’s previous hair salon business, in which he applies lotion to a man’s face. It ends on him appearing to reach towards the man’s groin, with the voiceover “Not the way we do business in Montana”.
The Denver Post said at the time: “Only the most naive adult would miss the implication that Taylor is a homosexual… the supposedly inclusive Democrats deftly played on the right’s homophobia.”
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After the advert aired Mr Taylor dropped out of the election, which Mr Baucus went on to win.
Both Mr Messina and Mr Baucus denied any link to the advert at the time. Aside from the homophobic content, US has strict laws concerning campaign advert funding, which their backing would have flouted.
However, in the 2012 Businessweek profile Mr Baucus seems to contradict this, suggesting that Messina had responsibility or knowledge of the advert before it aired.
Mr Baucus said: “Jim is tough, I’ll never forget when he showed me that ad.
“We were in Bozeman in a motel. The curtains were drawn. He said, ‘Max, what do you think?’ They were afraid I wasn’t going to like it. I loved it!”
He adds: “I found out quickly from Messina that there was no honor in politics.”
As Obama’s chief of staff in 2010, Mr Messina was part of the push to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which banned military personnel from being openly gay.
He will remain based in the US, but will report to Conservative strategist Lynton Crosby and other party seniors ahead of the 2015 election.