Martin backs off FairTax attack ad
Fair Tax attack hits Chambliss; Martin says, 'not my ad'
By Jim Tharpe
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Martin on Saturday distanced himself from an advertisement by his own party that attacks the so-called Fair Tax.
The proposed national sales tax would replace the federal income tax. It is supported by Martin’s Republican opponent, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
The national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has pumped $500,000 into Georgia for attack ads against Chambliss including the Fair Tax ad, which last week started blanketing the TV airwaves in metro Atlanta.
Martin, who is in a tightening race with Chambliss, backed away from the ad during a 30-minute debate involving Martin, Chambliss and Libertarian Allen Buckley at WSB-TV studios Saturday afternoon. WSB is scheduled to broadcast the debate at 12:30 p.m. today.
“It’s not my ad,” Martin said during the debate. However, he added, “It is factually correct.”
Under federal campaign laws, Martin’s campaign is not permitted to pre-clear ads by the national party.
The spot has angered Fair Tax supporters in Georgia. Many conservatives here back the idea. Many of those same conservatives are angry with Chambliss for having voted for the recent $700 billion financial rescue plan, which Martin opposed.
Martin said the ad takes the focus off the real economic issue facing the nation — eight years of “failed economic policies” of the Bush administration as backed by Chambliss.
“It’s Washington-think. I wish it wasn’t running,” Martin said of the ad.
Chambliss described the ad as misleading. It focuses on the proposed 23 percent federal sales tax without pointing out that the Internal Revenue Service and federal income tax would be eliminated. Fair Tax supporters called an impromptu rally Friday at the state Capitol to blast the TV spot.
Democrats in Washington injected the ad into the increasingly acrimonious Senate campaign just as the underdog Martin was gaining traction against Chambliss, who once had a double-digit lead. Recent polls have shown the race tightening, with Chambliss either 6 points ahead or Martin dead-even with the Republican, depending on the survey.
Buckley, who like Martin opposes the Fair Tax, jumped into the fray at Saturday’s debate, at one point challenging Chambliss to a separate debate on the national sales tax idea. Buckley called the idea a “sham”; he also said the Democratic Party ad attacking the proposal for Martin’s campaign was dishonest.
Chambliss reiterated his support of the sales tax. He said it lets consumers determine their tax rate based on their consumption levels.
“The Fair Tax is what is says it is — it’s fair,” Chambliss said.
Martin countered that the tax would hurt most taxpayers.
“This would increase taxes on the middle class and lower taxes for the wealthy,” Martin said.
Buckley said that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are addressing the nation’s most pressing issue — a runaway federal debt that could lead to economic ruin unless it is turned around.
(originally posted here: http://www.ajc.com/services/content/metro/stories/2008/10/19/senatedebate.html)