WASHINGTON -- A day after a new television ad debuted for White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) aimed at Iowa voters, the union official in it was removed from the spot at his request.
Chicago-based Tom Balanoff, the president of SEIU Local 1, was in the original version of an ad about Obama's years in Chicago as a community organizer.
It was released on Monday, along with another spot featuring state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) -- who is backing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president -- who talks about Obama's bipartisan efforts while they served together in Springfield.
The spots, by Obama media strategist David Axelrod, are biographical testimonials about Obama rather than endorsements.
But Balanoff wanted to be cut because he "did not want to imply a national endorsement" for Obama, said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
Balanoff was replaced in the spot by Jerry Kellman, who hired Obama to come to Chicago as an organizer.
The SEIU is one of the nation's most powerful labor organizations, and Balanoff is the vice chairman of the SEIU political committee.
Obama and rivals former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) are courting the SEIU and its president, Andy Stern, for an endorsement, which will not come until mid-September at the earliest.
Balanoff and Dillard gave their interviews in May. Parts of those interviews were used in videos produced about Obama's life and distributed to Iowa voters on DVDs.
SEIU communications director Steve Trossman said Balanoff was under the impression his interview would be "used on some Web stuff" and not packaged for a commercial.
Axelrod said, "Tom is a great friend and we appreciate his longtime friendship and support, including his willingness to describe the conditions that existed on the South Side of Chicago at the time Barack was working as a community organizer."
The first report about the revamped ad was broken by Marc Ambinder on his blog at The Atlantic.
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