By ROGER ALFORD
Associated Press Writer
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - GOP leaders said Thursday they will be distributing a fake photograph of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear standing beside a casino table with a drink in his hand.
Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson said the depiction has been printed in 200,000 political brochures that will be passed out door to door across the state, at campaign events and at county fairs.
The depiction has Beshear's head, with a sparkling front tooth, on someone else's body dressed in a white sports jacket, a white shirt with an open collar, holding a beverage while standing at what appears to be a roulette table covered with gambling chips.
"There's no misrepresentation on the photograph," Robertson said. "We've very clear about stating it's not an actual photograph."
A disclaimer at the bottom of the brochure says "Not an actual photo."
Even so, the depiction met immediate criticism from Beshear supporters.
"I think that violates the kind of standards that we expect in politics," said Democratic Party Chairman Jonathan Miller. "We expect that we're not going to engage in sophomoric, petty attacks on each other where pictures are distorted, where people are made fun of."
Beshear spokeswoman Vicki Glass called the brochure tasteless. "That's a desperate attempt by a desperate candidate," she said.
The brochure, which promotes all state-level Republican candidates, disparages Beshear as "Easy Money Steve" for supporting a constitutional amendment that would allow casino gambling in Kentucky. It carries a headline: "Don't gamble on Steve Beshear & his fool's gold casino plan."
Beshear says if elected he would push for a constitutional amendment opening Kentucky to casinos. He says he wants to limit casino gambling to racetracks and two to four freestanding facilities placed strategically along the state's borders. He estimates the venture would generate at least $500 million a year in state revenue that he wants to use to improve education, health care and other government programs. He has said he'd support a local option for communities.
Fletcher has voiced strong opposition to the proposal and has tried to make the governor's race a referendum on gambling. Fletcher says opening casinos will generate crime and social ills in the state.
Fletcher campaign spokesman Jason Keller said he saw nothing wrong with the depiction of Beshear.
"It's a good natured depiction of what Steve Beshear has made the central issue of his campaign, and that's casino gambling," Keller said.
Miller said the brochure was part of a smear campaign and he didn't rule out asking the Republican Party not to use the brochures.
"That is the type of tactics that have been stopped so long ago," Miller said.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)