GRAND RAPIDS – The websitedebbiespenditnow.com, which featured a Chinese theme and controversial ad criticizing U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, has been taken down and redirected to the campaign of former U.S. Rep Pete Hoekstra, a Republican seeking to knock of the Democratic incumbent.
The affiliation between the sites has never been hidden – Hoekstra has sought to brand Stabenow as an excessive spender who threatens the country in comparison to his fiscal restraint. But on Thursday, four days after a heavily criticized Super Bowl ad that played on racial stereotypes and drew national attention, the site was redirected topetespenditnot.com, a pitch that extols the strengths of the Holland Republican who served nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Campaign spokesman Paul Ciaramitaro said it is a natural progression from the first commercial.
“After hundreds of thousands of visitors to the micro-site saw our first campaign ad and the effects of Stabenow's reckless spending, we wanted to direct traffic to Pete's site where voters can see our second ad, which lays out Pete's vision of fiscal discipline and economic growth,” he said.
The website switch came on the first day that Hoekstra's top opponent in the Republican primary,Clark Durant, launched a commercial that puts both the Holland hopeful and the incumbent Democrat in the same net.
Durant said in an interview with the Press and MLive.com that Hoekstra supported raising the debt ceiling, voted for the Wall Street bailout and has been symptomatic of the problems within the federal government.
The commercial and website "demeans people, misleads the public and is hypocritical on Stabenow's spending." It led Durant to enter his televised response.
"I realized it reflected everything that is wrong with Washington," said Durant, who polling shows to be Hoekstra's top competition for the Republican nod. "I couldn't sit on the sideline and let it go.
"I didn't want to attack anybody, but I want people to know that their voting records on the most fundamental of issues are nearly identical."
Durant said he also didn't like the name-calling by Hoekstra.
"We need to have serious conversations because our country has serious debt and serious issues that need to be addressed," Durant said.
Hoekstra's campaign said it had no response to the Durant ad, and that they were focusing their energy on defeating Stabenow.