A 3-year-old photo was reportedly doctored to lengthen and widen a Jewish Democratic candidate’s nose.
ATLANTA (CN) — Republican Senator David Perdue of Georgia has removed a Facebook campaign ad featuring a manipulated photo of his Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff, who is Jewish, with an enlarged nose amid criticisms that the ad was anti-Semitic.
The fundraising ad called for $20.20 donations to Perdue’s campaign and featured grainy, black-and-white images of Ossoff and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is also a Jewish Democrat.
The ad claimed that Schumer was spending $3 million in Georgia for Ossoff and included a banner under the photos that said, “DEMOCRATS ARE TRYING TO BUY GEORGIA!”
According to Facebook data, the ad started running on July 22 and was primarily shown to users in Texas, Georgia and Florida.
The Jewish news site The Forward reported Monday that the photo of Ossoff was a manipulated version of a 2017 Reuters photo that was doctored to lengthen and widen Ossoff’s nose.
A spokeswoman for Perdue said Monday that the image was removed from Facebook.
The spokeswoman said the image was an “unintentional error” by an outside vendor but did not name the vendor responsible. She said Perdue had not seen the ad.
“Anybody who implies that this was anything other than an inadvertent error is intentionally misrepresenting Senator Perdue’s strong and consistent record of standing firmly against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate,” the spokeswoman said.
Ossoff called the manipulated image “the oldest, most obvious, least original anti-Semitic trope in history.”
“Senator, literally no one believes your excuses,” he said in a statement Monday.
During a virtual press conference Tuesday, Ossoff urged Perdue to donate any money raised through the ad “to groups that promote community healing and community unity and tolerance.”
The Democratic Party of Georgia called the ad an “anti-Semitic attack” in a statement Monday evening and called on Perdue to immediately fire the campaign vendor who created the ad, issue an apology to Ossoff, and “take responsibility for injecting these kinds of hateful stereotypes into this election.”
“Now more than ever, we have to combat the ugly hatred we’ve seen continue to rear its head in this country,” said State Senator Nikema Williams, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia. Williams was recently tapped to replace the late Congressman John Lewis as the Democratic nominee for the 5th Congressional District seat.
Perdue, a first-term senator and ally of President Donald Trump, is battling for re-election against Ossoff in November.
Ossoff triumphed over a crowded field of Democratic challengers in Georgia’s chaotic primary election last month and recent polls show him locked in a dead heat with Perdue.
Internal polling conducted between July 9 and 15 for Ossoff by Garin-Hart-Young Research shows him at 45% and Perdue at 44% with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Ossoff rose to the national spotlight in 2017 during his unsuccessful campaign for the 6th Congressional District seat against Republican Karen Handel. The race became the most expensive U.S. House race in history.