MARSHALL, Mich. (WZZM) - U.S. Senate Candidate Pete Hoekstra of Holland says he will not pull his new campaign commercial, even though some say it is racially insensitive.
"The ad is staying on the air," says Hoekstra. "Absolutely."
The 30 second commercial, which was first broadcast during the Super Bowl pre-game coverage, shows an actress of Asian descent speaking broken English to explain how deficit spending supported by Democrat Senator Debbie Stabenow is helping the Chinese economy.
Critics, both Democrats and Republicans, say the ad promotes harmful racial stereotypes.
"Pete Hoekstra is a racist," declared Detroit area Pastor Charles Williams, II.
"This whole charge of racism, they are just trying to change the subject," says Hoekstra.
The former congressman told leaders at a Calhoun County Republican Party gathering in Marshall, Monday night the ad is part of his strategy to unseat Senator Stabenow.
"I am not going to be timid", he says. "Over the weekend we demonstrated we were going to take this right to Debbie and hold her accountable."
Many Calhoun County Republican say they see no problem with the commercial.
"I don't think it was racially motivated", says Brian VandePolder. "Any ad we put on somebody is going to object to."
"Some might question if he used the right messenger but, I think the point was well taken," agrees Joe Colyn. "We are exporting a lot of our economy."
Hoekstra says he is planning to run the ad on cable channels for a few weeks before it is replaced by a fresh campaign commercial.
"Actually, we are getting a lot of positive feedback from the grassroots," he says. "They are the people who matter. They are the ones being hurt by these economic decisions coming out of Washington."
"They are endorsing racism and discrimination if they continue to give money to Pete Hoekstra's campaign," says Rev. Williams about Hoekstra supporters.
"Whenever it's something they don't like it's racism," says Hoekstra. "Racism is a very serious charge and it's become over used. It doesn't have nearly the impact it used to have."