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"Offensive, tasteless" Facebook photos of Obama spur strife within Virginia GOP

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The Virginia Republican Party has ordered a county affiliate to remove “offensive, tasteless” photos of President Barack Obama from its Facebook page—but the county affiliate isn’t budging.

For months, members of the Mecklenburg County GOP in southern Virginia have posted Photoshopped images of President Obama in compromising situations. One shows him with Vice President Joe Biden as if they’re staring at the gay drama Brokeback Mountain. In another, Obama sneers, wears a wife beater T-shirt, carries a bouquet of flowers, and says “c’mon baby gimmie one more chance.” A third depicts him wearing his Nobel Peace Prize on an enormous gold chain. (The pictures have since been removed from Facebook.)

“These kinds of images have no place in political discourse — period,” said Pat Mullins, former Virginia governor and chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported.

The photos “should never have been posted anywhere, let alone a local unit’s Facebook page,” Mullins said. He added, “The Republican Party of Virginia condemns this sort of imagery in the strongest possible terms.”

Mecklenburg County GOP chair Wally Hudson, who said he posted most of the pictures himself after finding them elsewhere online, was unrepentant. “If they don’t want to see it, they don’t have to look at it,” he said. “We don’t consider any of it racist.”

“I mean, good God, you should have seen some of the images they did of George [W.] Bush,” added Hudson, who became chair in May after retiring as an airline flight crew member. “It’s freedom of speech.”

Hudson posted some of the photos as early as July, but they’ve flown mostly under the radar. The Mecklenburg GOP Facebook page has only 181 likes. They only gained widespread attention after ProgressVA, a liberal advocacy organization, brought the page to Mullins’s attention Monday.

The 101 photos have only a small smattering of shares and likes among them, and the vast majority of comments come from offended citizens who only learned about the page after Mullins’s condemnation.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourselves,” Ellen Dacanay-Ruiz wrote under the “one more chance” photo.

Update: The "offensive" photos linked to in this story were removed by the Mecklenburg County VA Republican Party on Thursday, Sept. 27, according to the Washington Post

Photos via Mecklenburg County VA Republican Party/Facebook