Rick Reed

When launched last fall, the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America (FSPA) was labeled an “evil,” “soft-money” group; it was no surprise its activities would immediately be denounced by Senator John McCain. After all, for years Senator McCain has been a vocal opponent of soft-money groups operating independently of federal campaigns.

Unfortunately, it is McCain Feingold “campaign finance reform” that reconfigured the playing field and created these groups. And, even more unfortunate for the GOP is that liberal groups have made it an art form. Reports indicate “hundreds of millions” in soft money will be spent this election year.

The vast majority of funds are being amassed by liberal groups. Moveon.org has raised tens of millions and plans to spend it all to help Senator Obama.

Moreover, it should be clear to anyone interested in a serious debate about the economic and national security future of the United States that the issue of independent expenditures is much bigger than McCain’s own campaign finance reform agenda.

In addition to Senator Obama’s massive war chest, other left wing groups have the potential to outspend conservative counterparts by at least 10 to 1, most of it on television ads. And in politics, the reach and frequency of television messages matter. Senator McCain and those who oppose a timetable for withdrawal of American troops in Iraq can’t possibly expect to be heard above the ranting lefties who are standing by to do Obama’s dirty work. Already, labor unions are on the air with distorted ads suggesting McCain wants to draft babies to serve in Iraq for the next 100 years. Don’t expect the media to help clarify the record.

Swift Boat Redux? It’s doubtful the media will portray these left-wing groups the same way they vilified the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004.

In 2004 a group of courageous men of no particular political party affiliation came forward to tell about the John Kerry they knew in Vietnam. Known as the Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth, many of those who testified as to Kerry’s prevarications were officers in Kerry’s own unit. They included his entire chain of command as well as the one crew member who served on Kerry’s own boat longer than anyone else during Kerry’s 3 months as a Swiftie. In the 90-day period between early August and the November election, these men conducted more than 4,000 interviews with the media. To a man they were men I was proud to assist in a small way.

They had nothing to gain, personally or professionally. In fact, they and their families were subjected to a variety of threats as well as private investigators hired by Kerry to dig up dirt. Kerry and his cronies failed.

Rick Reed

Rick Reed has written and produced the advertising for Senator Lindsey Graham (SC), Senator George Allen (VA)- winner of PR WEEK’s Political Campaign of the Year award in 2000.