On Friday night, swing-voters across the nation saw a one-minute advertisement paid for by the Red Cross featuring President Barack Obama.
The ad comes on the weekend before the election, and while the Red Cross does unquestionable good for millions of Americans, the choice to run this ad comes noticeably close to a campaign endorsement for President Obama.
Here’s the transcript from the ad:
When a natural disaster strikes, it can leave tens of thousands of families in need of help, and it can also bring out the best in the American people. In this country, we look out for one another. We have each other’s backs, because despite our differences, we are Americans first—and that’s what Americans do. These efforts are often led by the American Red Cross and other members of the national voluntary organizations active in disasters. These groups are on the ground at the very beginning of a crisis until long after the TV cameras are gone, providing food, shelter, and other services to those in need. They do incredible work, and they can’t do it alone. They need your support. We can’t always predict when the next natural disaster will happen, but if we do our part, each of us, then together we can make a difference.
The ad sounds harmless, but giving the President free, positive airtime this close to the election can and will affect this race—especially when the President snuck in some campaign language.
Did any of these lines sound familiar?
On Thursday, just hours before the ad ran, President Obama said in Boulder, Colorado, “We need an agenda that recognizes that we don’t just look out for ourselves, we look out for one another.” (emphasis added)
Or the “we have each other’s backs” line? President Obama used that phrase during the 2012 State of the Union, referring to welfare policies.
But the specific language isn’t the problem. It’s the paid-for airtime—which might as well be an endorsement—for President Obama. Red Cross is one of the most respected 501(c)3 charities in the nation, and implied support from them would help any candidate this close to an election.
Under IRS rules, charities must not appear to help any candidates for office, but this ad seemingly crosses that line.
Instead of spending thousands—if not millions—on ads featuring President Obama, Red Cross could use their donors’ money more productively by taking more generators and more food to the distressed areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
For the last week, pundits have wondered what impact this storm would have on the election. Instead of realizing the President’s conflict of interest, Red Cross ran this ad anyway. Red Cross donors shouldn’t be pleased. Unless Red Cross runs an ad with Governor Romney, these ads could help President Obama in vital swing states where he is desperate for support.
Ron Meyer is the Press Secretary and Spokesman for American Majority Action. He’s appeared frequently on Fox News, CNN, and GBTV. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.