Obama has credited Wright with leading him to Christianity, and Wright performed Obama's 1994 wedding to Michelle Obama and baptized the couple's two daughters. Obama took the name for his best-selling memoir, "The Audacity of Hope," from one of Wright's sermons.
The Wright controversy became a campaign problem for Obama, pushing him to deliver a major speech on race relations. He eventually severed his ties to Wright.
The AP left several messages for Wright on Thursday through his executive secretary at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago as well as through other intermediaries. There was no immediate reply.
For his part, Arizona Sen. McCain said Thursday he felt he had done the right thing on the Wright issue.
"I remain proud of our campaign and proud of what we were able to accomplish, and I would do it over again," McCain said at the Capitol. He said the matter seemed dead after Romney repudiated the proposal.
He shrugged when asked whether independent groups should take up matters such as Wright's remarks.
"It's a way for political operatives to continue to make money," McCain said.
Another top Republican, House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, declined to be drawn into the debate.
"This election is going to be about the economy," he said when reporters asked him to react to the proposed ad campaign. "I don't know what these other people do or why they do it."
Unease with Obama's history with Wright has percolated among many Republicans for years, providing fodder for conservative television and talk radio.
But Republican strategists generally said they were put off by the Davis group's approach, reasoning it would meet resistance from independent voters likely to decide the outcome of the election. A majority of those voters approve of Obama personally even as they remain skeptical of his performance as president.
"Among those folks the personal incendiary stuff will backfire badly and will be seen as mean, personal and angry," Republican pollster Adam Geller said.
The story cast new attention on Ricketts, the founder of Nebraska-based TD Ameritrade Securities and patriarch of the family that bought the Chicago Cubs baseball team in 2009. Ricketts has been active in conservative politics for years, most recently helping Republican Deb Fischer win an upset victory this week in the Republican Senate primary in Nebraska.
The fallout from the Wright story appeared to rattle Ricketts' family.
Tom Ricketts, one of the elder Ricketts' four children and Cubs chairman, joined his father in rejecting what he called a "return to racially divisive issues" in the campaign.
"Our team and every other Major League Baseball team are great examples of people of diverse backgrounds working together toward a common goal," Tom Ricketts said.
His sister Laura Ricketts, an Obama contribution bundler and gay rights activist, released a statement saying, "The love of country was instilled in us by my father. We have different political views on how to achieve what is best for the future of American, but we agree that each of us is entitled to our own views."
Fouhy reported from New York. Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn and Charles Babington in Washington, Joshua Funk and Margery Beck in Nebraska and Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
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