Berg campaign swaps controversial ad for new spot

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The controversial ad in question featured former YWCA board chairwoman Tammy Miller giving a testimonial for Berg and touting his help for the organization, and began airing last Wednesday. The YWCA asked for it to be taken down, as they said it looked too much like a YWCA endorsement. The organization's executive director is Democratic challenger Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampOvernight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas Iran president hints at future prisoner swaps, cash settlements with US Senators buck spending bill over Export-Import Bank MORE's niece, but the Fargo Forum reports that the YWCA said she had nothing to do with the request.

In response, the Berg campaign issued a new version — exactly the same, but with a disclaimer running along the bottom clarifying that the ad was a personal endorsement.

But the Forum, one of North Dakota's largest newspapers, issued an editorial on Wednesday slamming the ad as "unethical," regardless of the new disclaimer, and calling for it to be pulled.

That same day, at least three Fargo-area broadcast stations received instructions to air a new 30-second spot titled "Rusty," starting on Friday. The new ad will feature an Iraqi war veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart for his service.

A GOP operative familiar with the campaign asserted that the swap was typical procedure for such ads.

"As is standard for any political campaign — this ad ran its full course and there's now a scheduled traffic change. This is nothing more than Heidi Heitkamp once again trying to distract voters from the real issues of this campaign, including her ongoing support of Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump's new debate challenge: Silence WATCH LIVE: Obama speaks at African American Museum opening Obama talks racial tension at African-American museum opening MORE and his failed policies," the operative said.

— This story was published at 5:48 p.m. and updated at 6:33 p.m.