Mitt Romney's lawyers have ordered former Arizona state senator Kelli Ward to stop using an eight-year-old "Romney for President" ad to bash John McCain, the five-term senator she's trying to oust from Capitol Hill.
"Your campaign's use [of the ad] is a blatant infringement of 'Romney for President's' protected materials… [You] must cease and desist immediately," attorney Megan Newton of the law firm of Jones Day in Washington, D.C., told Ward in a letter obtained by Talking Points Memo.
The spat began when Ward, a Republican, took the old Romney spot which blasted McCain as the two vied for 2008 GOP presidential nomination, snipped out footage of the former Massachusetts senator and replaced it with her own image.
The spot crows about how McCain and Hillary Clinton, then a Democratic presidential candidate, allegedly both agreed on amnesty for illegal immigrants, opposition to George W. Bush's tax cuts, and blocking conservative judges.
"Even Bill Clinton says, 'She and John McCain are very close.' Don't we need a leader who agrees with conservatives?" a narrator says.
But instead of switching to Romney at his desk announcing, "I'm Mitt Romney, and I approved this message" as the original did, the altered version cuts to Ward declaring, "I'm Dr. Kelli Ward, and I approved this message."
McCain's campaign howled in protest at the use of ad, which Ward posted on her Facebook page, with spokeswoman Lorna Romero telling Newsmax on Thursday: "She steals campaign ads from 2008 and posts them as her own."
Romero said the ad was also deceptive because Romney has endorsed McCain's re-election to the U.S. Senate. But Ward spokesman Stephen Sebastian insisted: "Mitt Romney got it right. If the shoe fits, wear it. The substance is still the same. Some things never change."
Still, as of Thursday morning, Ward had removed the ad from Facebook without explanation. There was no comment about the flap on her official campaign website.
Ward, an osteopathic physician, is one of three Republican primary challengers hoping to end McCain's long senatorial run, which began in 1987. The primary will be held on Aug. 30.
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