A banner slogan on the Pemberton Republican Club's Web site that said, "Obama loves America like O.J. loved Nicole," disappeared yesterday after local Democrats alleged racist campaign tactics.
The Web master, Ed Kuck, a recently elected Republican County committeeman, said he had seen the slogan on an Internet site and copied it onto the club's Web page about a month ago as "a joke."
He removed it yesterday from the site, http://homewebs.net/pem, after a community person told him it would offend people, he said.
"I found out it was inappropriate, and I took it down," Kuck said, adding: "I just want to apologize to anybody who was offended, because that wasn't our intention at all."
Pemberton Councilwoman Diane Stinney said a Republican friend had called to tell her about the ad, saying: "I just want you to know I'm very disappointed with our Republican page."
Stinney then reported it to fellow Democrats.
She said the slogan had offended her, adding that Pemberton is a very diverse community.
"We've come a very long way, and we people of different colors still have a lot of growing up to do, but there are other issues that the two [presidential] candidates have to and should be addressing," she said.
Rick Perr, chairman of the Burlington County Democratic Committee, said that, although the phrase was taken down, he preserved a copy of it.
Comparing U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee for president, "to O.J. Simpson, an accused murderer who was found civilly liable for his ex-wife's death, is reprehensible," Perr said in a statement. "Moreover, it is a veiled attempt at inserting race into the political arena, for which the Republicans should be ashamed."
Bill Layton, who heads the Burlington County GOP, immediately denounced the slogan as "despicable" and "the worst kind of tactics."
Layton said, "There's no place in Burlington County Republican politics for this."
He said his organization has successfully backed African Americans and women for county and state legislative offices.
The slogan referenced NFL Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson's acquittal in the 1994 murders of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.
The phrase has been making the rounds on Web sites, posters and campaign buttons.
Kuck said he had put it up when he went to add pictures of a rally at Burlington County College for U.S. Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential candidate.
Kuck said the Pemberton Republican Club mostly concerned itself with local issues and candidates and probably wouldn't get too involved with the presidential race.