Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff is blasting a now-deleted attack ad from his incumbent Republican rival, Sen. David Perdue, that appears to engage in anti-Semitic tropes.
"For my opponent to stoop to this kind of incredibly divisive, inappropriate, offensive tactic is really disturbing," Ossoff, who is Jewish, said Tuesday at a virtual news conference, "and it's unbecoming of a sitting U.S. senator."
The ad features a black-and-white photo of Ossoff with his nose enlarged. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish as well, is also present in the ad, which is captioned: "Democrats are trying to buy Georgia!"
Amid the controversy, Perdue's campaign deleted the advertisement, calling it "accidental."
"In the graphic design process handled by an outside vendor, the photo was resized and a filter was applied, which appears to have caused an unintentional error that distorted the image," Perdue's campaign said in a statement to NPR.
"Anybody who implies that this was anything other than an inadvertent error is intentionally misrepresenting Senator Perdue's strong and consistent record of standing firmly against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate," the statement added.
The advertisement was first spotlighted by the Forward, a Jewish news organization, which reported that the ad went live online on July 22 and, "achieved between 3,000 and 4,000 impressions before it was deleted."
In his press conference Tuesday, Ossoff also urged Perdue to donate money raised through the advertisement "to groups that promote community healing and community unity and tolerance."
Perdue's campaign has yet to publicly respond to NPR's request for comment on Ossoff's demand.
Both Georgia's U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs this November, propelling the state into the national spotlight. President Trump won the state by just over a 5 point margin in 2016.
Freshman Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed after the retirement of Johnny Isakson last year, faces a competitive special election with challenges from Republican Congressman Doug Collins and Democrat Raphael Warnock.
Loeffler's race has been rated lean Republican by The Cook Political Report, the nonpartisan elections group.
Perdue's race is labeled a toss-up, meaning Ossoff, the Democrat, poses a serious challenge to the incumbent.
According to a recent Morning Consult poll, Ossoff trails Perdue by 3 percentage points, a figure that falls within the margin of error. Ossoff is also ahead with likely independent voters by 9 percentage points.
If elected, Ossoff, 33, would be among the youngest-ever senators and the first Democratic senator elected from Georgia since 2005.
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