July 15, 2016 3:45 pm -

When Mike Pence ran for Congress in 1990, he ran a controversial ad that was blasted by Arab-Americans.

Pence…later expressed his regrets about his behavior in that race in an op-ed titled“Confessions of a Negative Campaign.”

The ad, which BuzzFeed News was unable to obtain and view but was widely reported on in local press at the time, featured a man with a heavily Middle Eastern accent wearing a black robe, white headdress, and sunglasses thanking Pence’s opponent Rep. Phil Sharp for not weaning the U.S. off a dependence on foreign oil. Sharp was the chairman of a House Subcommittee on Energy and Power at the time.


“My people would like to thank you Americans for buying so much of our oil,” says the man in the ad to Sharp, while thanking him for taking oil and gas PAC money.

“Oh, thank you, Phil Sharp!,” the Middle Eastern man says.

The Washington-based Arab American Institute called the ad offensive. Pence defended the ad, telling the Associated Press, “This ad is not about Arabs. It is about Phil Sharp’s failure to lead.”

The Daily Journal, a local newspaper in the district, ran an editorial criticizing the spot. “Pence’s political ads insulting to arabs,” the headline read, before a scathing editorial comparing it to running an ad with blackface or an Italian man dressed as a mob boss.



D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.