In 24 newspapers around the state, a full-page ad ran today with a picture of Gov. Rick Perry and the word "coward" in large, capital letters. Back to Basics PAC, the anti-Perry group behind the ad, was hoping that number would be 25.
The Houston Chronicle (which happens to be hometown paper of Back to Basics' main funder, trial lawyer Steve Mostyn) opted not to run the ad, and it turns out it was the only one. The ad passed muster at every other paper the political action committee approached, including the state's other major dailies.
"It is kind of a glaring omission," says Back to Basics spokesman Cliff Walker. "Basically, the content that was accepted at 24 other papers was rejected."
The ad attacks Perry for being unwilling to debate Bill White, his Democratic opponent, or go before newspaper editorial boards. Ultimately, the decision at the Chronicle all came down to that one very visible word: "coward."
"We were more than happy to run the ad if Back to Basics changed the headline," says Naomi Engel, a senior marketing representative at the Chronicle. "They declined."
Alternatives were explored, but to no avail.
"There were some recommendations on adjustments," Walker acknowledges. "We said no, and that was it."