An independent campaign committee, backed by wealthy charter school advocates, is behind a television advertisement and mailed brochure seeking to boost former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's campaign for governor. Both show him with former President Barack Obama.
The mailer reads, "One of the finest leaders we have in this country," attributing the quote to Obama. The TV ad starts out with a video clip of Obama.
The committee producing the ads has raised $17.4 million to boost Villaraigosa's name recognition and highlight his record as mayor of Los Angeles, as he struggles to close in on second place. He is behind frontrunner Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, and Republicans John Cox and Travis Allen in public opinion polls. Only the top two candidates, regardless of party, advance to the November runoff.
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Obama: "You know at the heart of what Mayor Villaraigosa is doing today, he's fighting to make this country more equal and more just."
Narrator: "President Obama called him one of America's finest mayors, endorsed by the LA Times.
Antonio for governor."
The ad gives the false impression that Obama has endorsed, or is supporting in some other way Villaraigosa in his campaign for governor.
While Obama has praised Villaraigosa in the past, Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said Obama hasn't endorsed Villaraigosa or anyone else in the California governor's race.
Obama did say the words highlighted in the television ad. He made the comments in July 2008 to Latino leaders in Washington, D.C. during the national convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Villaraigosa, who is Latino and a Democrat, had introduced him, and as customary, Obama thanked him before moving onto a larger speech about diversity in government, his advocacy for "comprehensive immigration reform" and the importance of Latino participation in democracy and American politics.
His comments quoted in the mailer, calling Villaraigosa "one of the finest leaders we have in this country," came from a 2014 story in Politico headlined "Who Fixed Los Angeles? Not Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, say his fiercest critics."