Limbaugh claimed “there's a basis” for RNC ad critics have deemed racist: “Harold Ford has dated a white woman”

On the October 30 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that “there's a basis” for a controversial Republican National Committee (RNC) ad against Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Harold Ford Jr. that critics -- including Republicans -- have deemed racist; according to Limbaugh, that “basis” is that “Harold Ford has dated a white woman.”

As Media Matters for America has noted, the ad, which was released October 20, features a scantily clad white woman posing as someone who “met” Ford “at the Playboy party,” who looks into the camera, purporting to address Ford, an African-American, and asks him to “call” her. As the Los Angeles Times noted, “Critics said the ad ... plays on fears of interracial relationships to scare some white voters in rural Tennessee.” Former Republican senator and Secretary of Defense William Cohen, on the October 23 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, said the ad made “a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment,” and NAACP Washington Bureau director Hilary O. Shelton also has denounced the advertisement.

Limbaugh cited Cosmopolitan magazine as evidence that Ford “dated a white woman,” but appeared to be echoing a National Republican Senatorial Committee press release about the relationship. As National Journal's Hotline weblog wrote of the press release: “The National Republican Senatorial Committee blasts TN SEN candidate Harold Ford junior [sic] for ... well, we're not entirely sure. It has something to do with his dating life.” Julia Allison wrote in the July 2006 issue of Cosmopolitan that she had a relationship with Ford without mentioning him by name; she identified him subsequently in a post on her personal blog, portions of which Limbaugh read aloud.

As Media Matters noted, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan argued that “I don't take” the RNC ad “as racist at all,” because “Harold Ford is a guy that likes Playboy bunnies. Almost all of them are white.”

From the October 30 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: Do you know that Harold Ford used to date a white woman? Did you -- oh, I'm sorry, it's not -- no, hold it a second, it's not racist, Mr. Snerdley. It's not. He did, and she has a blog.

Hence, I'm -- me bringing up what Harold Ford did is racist? I'm just telling you that there's an ad that was pulled because the Republicans got cold feet, and it turns out there's a basis for it. I'm not criticizing. I -- I -- I am not -- let the NAALCP [sic] have a cow. Do you think -- do you think I'm going to back down? He did! He did date a white woman. I can't help it! It's what happened. We're into truth on this program.


LIMBAUGH: And now, back to programming here on the EIB Network. Here's the -- here's the excerpt from the blog. It's by Julia Allison. Actually, it's -- it's not a blog. She wrote this in Cosmopolitan in July of 2006. And here's -- here's the pull quote from it: “Harold Ford actually didn't do much of anything scandalous by dating me. Sure, I was younger and a dating columnist, and white, but he was single, so it's sort of a moot point. I did think it was hilarious, though, when Lloyd Grove's assistant rang my” -- he's a gossip columnist -- “rang my dorm room asking, 'Is it true that you're 18 and dating Congressman Ford?' I was pretty sure I wasn't 18, and I told her as much. Then I called Harold, who brilliantly responded, 'Wait, you're 18? You're not 18, are you?' I remember thinking, 'You idiot! If he didn't notice that I legally drank adult beverages with you on multiple occasions, you deserve to be caught dating an 18-year-old.' ”

Well, a lot of screaming over the ad. It turns out that Harold Ford has dated a white woman. Once again, no problem here. Go for it. I'm just pointing out the ad was not a stretch.