Caldwell Billboard Compares President To Colorado Shooter

Jul 30, 2012

A billboard in Caldwell, Idaho is getting attention all over the country. It shows a photo of Colorado shooter James Holmes with the words “Kills 12 in movie theater with assault rifle, everyone freaks out.” Next to Holme's picture, is one of President Barack Obama. With his photo - the words “Kills thousands with his foreign policy, wins Nobel Peace Prize.”

Maurice Clements says he’s given dozens of interviews in the past few days about his group’s latest public ad. Clements chairs the board of the Ralph Smeed Foundation. That’s the libertarian leaning group that owns the billboard. He says the group wanted to make a point about what it sees as the lack of opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Clements says he feels for the families of the people killed in the Colorado movie theater earlier this month.

“I know that there’s a lot of them that are offended, and I feel bad about that,” he says. “And I think if they had the whole story of why we put the sign up they would understand the message and be less critical, but yeah I can understand why a lot of people are upset about it.” Clements says his group stands by the billboard's message.

Rick Moore says the ad is a success if the goal was just to get attention. Moore teaches media communication at Boise State University. But he says he doesn’t know if the billboard will actually persuade anyone.

“I’m willing to bet that there are some people who would probably agree with much of what the person that created the billboard wants to communicate,” he says. “But upon seeing the message might feel like it went overboard or think it was inappropriate in some way.”  

Moore says to get national attention the ad had to use shock value but it risks alienating the people it was trying to persuade. Clements says the billboard will likely stay up through the end of this week.