Clay Aiken’s congressional campaign is biting back at opponent Keith Crisco with a pair of mailers slamming the textile businessman for owning foreign manufacturing plants. Crisco has been campaigning on a record of creating 120,000 jobs while he was Commerce secretary under Gov. Bev Perdue.
“Keith Crisco has his maps confused,” one mailer says, “because the jobs Crisco’s creating are in El Salvador, not North Carolina.”
In addition to two plants in Randolph County, Crisco’s Asheboro Elastics Corp. has two Central American manufacturing operations – in El Salvador and Honduras – as well as six distribution centers in Mexico, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
“Here in North Carolina, tens of thousands of families made their living in the textile industry before people like Keith Crisco moved production to countries where they could pay workers less than a living wage, do not have to follow American worker protection rules, and where employers like Crisco do not have to abide by our environmental standards,” one mailer says.
The mail pieces also criticize Crisco for supporting the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which it claims would put North Carolinians out of work. The mailers went out this week in advance of Tuesday’s primary election.
The Crisco camp’s reaction? Dirty politics!
“Keith Crisco has never shipped a single job overseas,” campaign spokesman Aaron Fiedler said in an emailed response. “In fact, in the last decade AEC’s workforce in North Carolina has nearly doubled. He is proud of the nearly 200 people he employs in good paying jobs right here in the Second District.”
The campaign called the mailers “smears” and says Aiken has gone back on his repeated promises not to attack his opponent.
“It looks like Clay Aiken’s pledge to ‘not go negative’ ended today,” Fiedler wrote on Thursday. “These mailers are false and defamatory and clearly show the desperation of the Aiken campaign just five days out from the primary.”
The Crisco campaign has spent a lot of money in the past couple of weeks on its own mailers and TV ads dubbing Aiken “No Show Clay” for his failure to attend any meetings of a national committee on people with disabilities that he had been appointed to.
In an interview earlier this year, Crisco his claim that he brought 120,000 new jobs to the state was a conservative estimate because companies must deliver something close to what they promise or else be penalized.
An Aiken spokesman claims those jobs were promised over a period of several years and don’t necessarily coincide with Crisco’s time in office. Also, job growth has lagged behind the state’s population growth to the extent that neither the Perdue or McCrory administrations can take credit for it, the spokesman said.
Crisco’s latest mailer, meanwhile, emphasizes jobs and the economy, with a parting shot at Aiken: “We don’t need another song and dance in Washington.”