“This was an ad that was seen by thousands of Georgians. It was a fundraising ad,” Ossoff said. “I call upon Sen. Perdue to take the money that he raised, using this manipulated image of my face, and donate that money to groups that promote community healing and community unity and tolerance. Because after these last four years, that’s what we need here in this country now as much as ever.”
Perdue’s campaign did not immediately respond to the call to donate the money. But in a statement originally sent Monday night, the campaign said the enlarging of Ossoff’s nose was done inadvertently by a vendor, and that Perdue had not seen the ad in question before it went online. His campaign did not say whether it would sever ties with the vendor.
“In the graphic design process handled by an outside vendor, the photo was resized and a filter was applied, which appears to have caused an unintentional error that distorted the image,” Casey Black, a spokesperson for Perdue, said in a statement. “Obviously, this was accidental, but to ensure there is absolutely no confusion, we have immediately removed the image from Facebook. Anybody who implies that this was anything other than an inadvertent error is intentionally misrepresenting Sen. Perdue’s strong and consistent record of standing firmly against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.”
In a statement later Tuesday, Ben Fry, Perdue’s campaign manager, said the campaign would part with its digital consultant because of the ad, calling it “an unfortunate and inadvertent error.”
“Sen. Perdue did not know about nor see the ad before it ran, and he is committed to ensuring future mistakes of this kind do not occur,” Fry said.
The campaign also pointed to a statement from former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), who leads the Republican Jewish Coalition, who said Perdue is “a person of honor and high integrity,” and that charges of anti-Semitism “are simply false.”
Ossoff and Perdue are squaring off in a competitive race that could see tens of millions of dollars in outside spending and potentially tilt the balance of power in the Senate next year.
In his original statement Monday evening, Ossoff called the the enlarging of his nose the “oldest, most obvious, least original anti-Semitic trope in history.” His Democratic allies echoed his campaign’s condemnation.
Nikema Williams, the chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, called for Perdue to apologize and fire the vendor responsible for the ad. A spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee criticized the senator, saying he was refusing to take responsibility for the ad. Ossoff’s campaign also shared statements from the Anti-Defamation League and the leader of the local chapter of the American Jewish Committee condemning the ad.