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Hoekstra campaign pulls website tied to controversial Super Bowl commercial

Former Rep. Pete Hoekstras (R-Mich.) campaign removed a website tied to his controversial Super Bowl ad Thursday, although his spokesman insists the Senate hopeful stands by — and will continue to air — the accompanying television spot.

Democrats said the websites removal, coupled with a new ad released by Hoekstra on Thursday, amount to an admission that the Super Bowl ad was inappropriate.

{mosads}Hoekstra is replacing this ad because he knows it is indefensible and untrue, Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, charged in a news release.

The ad, which features an Asian woman biking in front of rice paddies and speaking in broken English, aired in Michigan during the Super Bowl. Critics charged it had racial overtones.

Hoekstra spokesman Paul Ciaramitaro told The Hill that both ads are still running and the new spot is being added in rotation alongside the other commercial. As for the website, Ciaramitaro said it was pulled to direct supporters to the campaign’s new message against incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

“After hundreds of thousands of visitors to the microsite saw our first campaign ad and the effects of Stabenows 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,” Ciaramitaro said.

The website and commercial had drawn heavy fire from Democrats and Republicans alike in the state. Stabenow called the ad “demeaning” and “hypocritical” in her own advertisement earlier this week.

But Hoekstra defended the commercial during a conference call Monday.

“The ad is only insensitive to Debbie Stabenow and her spending,” he said. “The Chinese are taking advantage of the opportunity, and the door we opened for them. The ad doesn’t criticize the Chinese at all.”

Hoekstra argued that criticism of the spot by Democrats amounts to an attempt to distract from their record.

“We were aware of the possibility that [Democrats would] raise the race issue,” he said. “If they can’t defend their record … they will try to come up with some other issue that diverts the public from their failed record.”

The former congressman’s new ad reprises the “Spend-it-now” nickname for Stabenow, and criticizes the media for the outrage surrounding the previous spot.

“In spite of what the media says, this race is a chance to tell Washington to spend it not,” Hoekstra says in the ad.

— This story was last updated at 5:46 p.m.

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