Star of Pete Hoekstra’s Controversial Ad Apologizes for Taking Part

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The star of a political ad that depicted a bike-riding Asian woman speaking broken English is sorry that she took the gig.

Actress Lisa Chan, the main character in Michigan Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra’s campaign spot, wrote on Facebook that it was “absolutely a mistake” to take part in the ad and that she feels “horrible” about being featured in it.

In the 30-second ad, Chan’s character rides toward the camera and stops to remark about Hoekstra’s Democratic opponent, Debbie Stabenow. “Debbie spend so much American money, you borrow more and more, from us,” she said. “Your economy get very weak, ours get very good. We take your jobs.”

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The ad was immediately condemned for the character speaking broken English and the use of Chinese stereotypes. Despite the controversy, Hoekstra defended the spot, saying “The ad is only insensitive to Debbie Stabenow and her spending,” according to CBS News. He also said, “it doesn’t criticize the Chinese at all.” But, within days, the website connected to the ad was reportedly pulled.

When Chan was identified as the actress by a blog called Angry Asian Man, she was said to be concerned about her role and was “now proactively trying to address and undo her role in the racist messaging of Hoekstra’s campaign.”

Now she’s elaborated in a Facebook post.

“I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities. As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions.”

Since the ad debuted, it hasn’t helped Pete Hoekstra either. The candidate, no stranger to internet infamy, is trailing Debbie Stabenow by double-digits, according to a Public Policy Polling survey.

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“It appears to have been a flop with Michigan voters,” noted Dean Debnam, president of PPP, about the ad’s impact.