WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- A conservative super PAC said Thursday it has backed off a $10 million plan to attack U.S President Barack Obama on religious grounds.
Ending Spending Action Fund, backed by Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, issued a statement saying the strategy had only been a concept, not a plan that was being implemented, The Hill reported.
The proposal "reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take," the statement said. "Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a president this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally."
The New York Times had reported it obtained a copy of the conservative political action committee's plan to label Obama a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln" and to highlight ties between the Democratic president and his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A Wright Jr., who espouses "black liberation theology."
Earlier in the day, Obama's re-election campaign knocked Mitt Romney for not coming out strongly enough against the super PAC proposal.
"This morning's story revealed the appalling lengths to which Republican operatives and SuperPacs apparently are willing to go to tear down the President and elect Mitt Romney," ABC News quoted Obama campaign manager Jim Messina as saying in a statement.
"The blueprint for a hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination speaks for itself. It also reflects how far the party has drifted in four short years since John McCain rejected these very tactics."
Matt Rhoades, the campaign manager for the former Massachusetts governor who is the presumptive Republican nominee for president, said his boss would "repudiate" the politics of "character assassination."
"Once again, Governor Romney has fallen short of the standard that John McCain set, reacting tepidly in a moment that required moral leadership in standing up to the very extreme wing of his own party," Messina said.
Rhoades criticized the tone of language used by Democratic and Obama political operatives.
"President Obama's team said they would 'kill Romney,' and, just last week, David Axelrod referred to individuals opposing the president as 'contract killers," Rhoades said. " It's clear President Obama's team is running a campaign of character assassination. We repudiate any efforts on our side to do so.
Romney expressed his opposition to the super PAC's reported plan in an interview with the blog "Town Hall."
"I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they've described. I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity -- particularly for those in the middle class of America," Romney said.