Barack Obama's attorneys have sent a cease-and-desist letter to a pro-Trump group, demanding that they stop airing a "despicable" advertisement that uses the former president's words to undermine the 2020 presidential bid of ex-vice president Joe Biden.
The advertisement was made by The Committee to Defend the President, a super Political Action Committee that works to help President Donald Trump, a Republican, and hurt his Democratic rivals, including Biden.
Katie Hill, an Obama spokeswoman, said on Wednesday that the former President "has several friends in this race, including, of course, his own esteemed Vice President".
Obama still "has no plans to endorse in the primary because he believes that in order for Democrats to be successful this fall, voters must choose their nominee," she said on the 58-year-old two-time American president's stand on this year's presidential poll.
"But this despicable ad is straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook, and it's clearly designed to suppress turnout among minority voters in South Carolina by taking President Obama's voice out of context and twisting his words to mislead viewers," said Hill.
"In the interest of truth in advertising, we are calling on TV stations to take this ad down and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate," she said.
"The Committee to Defend the President must immediately remove this ad ... further the Committee to Defend the President must agree on behalf of itself and all affiliated entities to refrain from future misuse of President Obama's intellectual property or right of publicity," Patchen Haggerty, the ex-president's lawyer, wrote in a letter to the PAC group on Wednesday.
The clip - entitled South Carolina, Joe Biden Can't Be Trusted - was broadcast on TV stations in the southern US state before Tuesday night's Democratic debate in Charleston, formerly America's largest slave port.
While the ad suggests the statement was made recently and by Obama, Haggerty said that was not the case. Obama was just recounting a conversation he had with a barber who was commenting on Chicago politics before the election of Harold Washington in 1983, the city's first black mayor.
The ad attacks Biden's record on race. He is currently the frontrunner in the South Carolina race, though his campaign is flagging nationally, media reports said.
Biden, 77, is one of eight candidates remaining in the contest to become the Democratic candidate who will take on President Trump in the November 3 election.
Biden, who was vice president of the US from 2009 to 2017, is said to be depending heavily on black voters to give him his first win in the 2020 nomination fight to blunt front-runner Bernie Sanders' momentum.
Reacting to the controversial advertisement, Andrew Bates, a Biden spokesman, said, "This latest intervention in the Democratic primary is one of the most desperate yet, a despicable torrent of misinformation by the President's lackeys.
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