Watch this ad from Dr. Tom Hayhurst (D). He is running for Congress in the Indiana 3rd Congressional district against incumbent Mark Souder (R):
Hat tip to Advance Indiana for the original video...
Several, including AI and a number of us here at bilerico, feel this ad plays to fears of homosexuality and the general misunderstanding of the difference between pedophiles and gays and lesbians. By claiming that Foley committed "crimes against nature" the Hayhurst ad appears to be reinforcing this in the minds of voters.
I spoke with the Hayhurst campaign this afternoon. Peter Clerkin, Dr. Hayhurst's campaign director explained the campaign's take on the ad. "Up here, most people view things differently," he said. "When they think of Foley, they don't think 'homosexual,' they think 'pedophile.'"
Clerkin went on to explain that the ad was pointing to the "culture of corruption" that his candidate's opponent was part of in Washington. He also pointed out that if anyone was linking pedophilia and homosexuality, it was Mark Souder who has equated them publicly on the campaign trail.
I asked the campaign if perhaps there was a "wink-and-a-nod" understanding when the ad was being shot. Again, Clerkin denied any such idea. He reiterated to me that Dr. Hayhurst "does not condone such bigotry."
Clerkin also pointed out that Dr. Hayhurst was the deciding vote to add sexual orientation protections to the Ft. Wayne human rights ordinance as a member of the Ft. Wayne City Council. He says the opposition has been using that vote as a wedge in the current campaign.
The campaign seemed to understand how the ad could be misconstrued, but didn't offer to change it or apologize for the contents.
UPDATE: Masson's Blog has a new poll that shows Souder as winning by 12 points. It looks like the race has changed recently. Could this be why the campaign is running such a controversial ad?
Let's hear your thoughts. Is the ad homophobic? Does it play to the uneducated idea that homophobia and pedophilia are linked? Does the ad offend you?