Right-Wing Group Forced to Cancel Voice Actor Audition for Attack Ad Claiming President of Iran Endorses Beto O'Rourke
Conservative groups have largely been caught flat-footed by the campaign of El Paso Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), who has mounted a competitive Senate challenge against infamous right-wing firebrand Ted Cruz with a gigantic grassroots operation.
But one recent attempt to produce an attack ad to strike back at O'Rourke was so transparently insane that the website hosting its audition took it down.
According to The Daily Beast, an unidentified right-wing group made a casting call for a voice actor to play Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and claim he was endorsing O'Rourke:
The campaign appears to have not made it into production, and maybe never will, as the site where the group posted a call for voice actors took down the solicitation on the grounds that the script was clearly false.
Before it was removed, a screenshot of that posting—which was made on the website Voicebunny in August—was provided to The Daily Beast on an anonymous tip line. According to the posting, the company producing the ad was "trying to do a voice dubbing of the Iranian President, so the voiceover needs to sound middle eastern and stern."
The script for the ad reportedly read: "Hello, I am Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Today, it is my pleasure to endorse Beto O'Rourke for U.S. Senate. As a Congressman, Beto was a strong supporter of President Obama’s Iran Deal—which gave billions of dollars to my country of Iran." A client associate from Voicebunny's parent company said the proposed ad was "fake news."
While Voicebunny will not disclose the group behind the project, The Daily Beast notes that the listing number matches other casting calls for political ads from Secure America Now — a neoconservative dark money group that opposes the Iran deal, supports President Donald Trump's Muslim ban, and has tried to smear Democrats over the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.
While this ad's claim was outlandish, it would have fit well within the broader GOP strategy against O'Rourke, which has largely been based on fear and culture war attacks. Cruz is currently running a spot falsely claiming that O'Rourke called police officers "The new Jim Crow," has claimed O'Rourke would bring "tofu, silicon, and dyed hair" to Texas, and even said Democrats would ban barbecue.
On Sunday, O'Rourke dropped his own television spot disavowing negative campaign tactics. "We can be defined by our fears, or we can be known by our ambitions," he says in the ad.