Republican Senate Candidate John James Apologizes For Including Swastika In Campaign Ad

John James standing in a warehouse in front of interviewers
Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Michigan Republican Senate candidate John James has been taking heat for an ad that his campaign ran earlier this week showing an image of a swastika. According to Detroit Free Press, James says that the image was included in error after he and his campaign team failed to catch the swastika before airing the ad.

“I need to fess up and admit this was a terrible error on our part. We should have caught this error and we didn’t and there is no excuse. I’m responsible for everything that our team does and fails to do, and I will do everything in my power to make sure this never, ever happens again,” said James in a news conference.

John James’ team ran a TV ad a few weeks ago titled “Ready to Serve.” In it, the candidate walks down a school hallway talking about failing schools. Near the ten second mark, the camera passes a bulletin board with a black, white and red swastika on it, while James’ voice continues over the footage.

A few people picked up on the image, including advocacy group Progress Michigan. They brought the presence of the swastika to public attention, saying that whether it was an error or not, avoiding this type of imagery should be a “basic” part of running political ads.

“His team is either too lazy to spot check their ads or they’re willfully pushing out this type of imagery,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Either way, it’s a problem and shows James’ lack of preparedness for the United States Senate.”

The candidate claims that the school scene is from stock footage. At a news conference to address the issue, which the candidate posted on Twitter, James denounced racism in all forms. He then went on to denounce his opposition for making an issue out of the image, saying it is indicative of”how low people are willing to go.”

“Senator Stabenow will say and do anything to get re-elected,” said James.

The campaign plans to begin running a new ad today.

The image, whether intentional or not, is being used to align James with the President, who has endorsed the candidate. Trump has made comments supporting white supremacy groups after a rally resulted in violence and one death in Charlottesville, Virginia last year.

John James is running against Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat who has served in the Senate since 2000.