Campaign

NRCC hits Democratic congressional candidate over rap career

The National Republican Congressional Committee released an ad Wednesday attacking Antonio Delgado, the Democratic candidate for New York's 19th Congressional District, for his past as a rapper. 

The video splices together some of the scenes from a music video by Delgado in which he uses the n-word, profanity, references to sexual acts and says "God bless Iraq," with images of the candidate giving a standard campaign speech in more formal attire. 

The video is titled "Who Am I."

Delgado is running to unseat Rep. John Faso (R-N.Y.), who is serving his first term in Congress.

"It's disappointing that John Faso and his supporters are still focused on distractions by spreading fear, hatred, and division. We continue to call on Faso to condemn these divisive and deceptive ads," Delgado said in a statement to The Hill.

"The values and principles of hard work, accountability, and service that my parents instilled in me and that I developed while growing up in Schenectady have always been my foundation. My story wouldn't be possible without those values. And it's not just the values that unite us - it's the issues," he added.

The Faso campaign said it had no control over the ad released by the NRCC, but said Delgado had to address previous "controversial views."

"As everyone knows, campaigns can have no control over outside groups and, by law, cannot coordinate with such groups. I can only control what my campaign does and we are focused on the critical issues facing our veterans, farmers, small businesses, and families throughout the district," the Faso campaign said in a statement to The Hill.

"Mr. Delgado's words have been an issue for some time and it is his responsibility as a candidate to answer for the controversial views he expressed and whether he continues to hold these views today. Mr. Delgado has refused to do that. In fact, when confronted in a public forum he said people that ask him about his words 'tend to be the people who are struggling with themselves,'" it continued.

The race in this swing district is close. A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday shows Delgado with a 48-45 lead over Faso among likely voters, a lead that falls within the margin of error. 

The district voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, but voted for President Trump in 2016. The Cook Political Report rates the seat as a "toss up."

This isn't the first time Delgado, who used to go by the stage name A.D. The Voice, has had to defend his past rap career.

The focus on Delgado's rap career has brought race front and center in the close election. Delgado is black, and the 19th District, which is located in the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions, is 83 percent white.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a conservative political group that advertises for Republican congressional candidates, released a similar ad earlier this year. 

Faso also criticized his opponent's lyrics in July, telling The New York Times, "Mr. Delgado's lyrics are offensive. It's his responsibility as a candidate to answer for the controversial views he expressed in his lyrics and whether he continues to hold these views today."

"It was different contexts, different tactics, but same desires and same outcomes," Delgado responded at the time.

"Issues like income inequality, issues like gender equality, issues like the pollution of our environment and climate change - these are all issues that I talked about back then as an artist that I'm now talking about."

Faso has tied himself closely to President Trump and has endorsed some of his language, including in terms of eliminating the gang MS-13. 

About 37 percent of likely voters say Delgado is in touch with the district, compared to 34 percent who say he is not, according to the Monmouth poll. Comparatively, 40 percent of voters say Faso is in touch with the district, compared to 41 percent who disagree.

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