A Republican-leaning independent fundraising group announced Friday it would launch a $20 million television campaign criticizing President Barack Obama's handling of the economy.
The ads, produced and financed by Crossroads GPS, will begin running Monday in 10 states, many of which are presidential battlegrounds.
Spokesman Jonathan Collegio said the group would spend $5 million initially on cable television nationwide and on broadcast TV in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada and Virginia. Crossroads will spend a total of $20 million on the campaign over two months, Collegio said.
The 30-second ad illustrates how unemployment, the national debt and gas prices have all gone up since Obama took office in January 2009. It also suggests the $850 billion federal stimulus plan failed, with Obama acknowledging there weren't as many "shovel ready" infrastructure projects to fund with stimulus dollars as the administration had originally hoped.
"It's time to take away Obama's blank check," the announcer says.
The campaign represents Crossroads' first major national effort to shape the political debate in Washington. Crossroads GPS is an affiliate of American Crossroads, a Republican-leaning group with ties to Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's former top political adviser. Together, the groups spent more than $38 million to defeat Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections.
In a statement, Crossroads GPS president Steven Law said, "President Obama may have inherited a recession, but his policies have made things worse for everyday Americans by running up the debt and causing economic uncertainty."
The ad airs as Republican and Democratic congressional leaders are negotiating an increase in the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
Obama plans to get involved in the negotiations next week as Democrats warn of catastrophic economic consequences if the ceiling is not increased. Republicans leaders say they will not agree to any debt ceiling increase unless it's paired with deep spending cuts.
American Crossroads was one of many groups formed to help Republicans after the Supreme Court eased restrictions on corporate spending in political campaigns in early 2010. Crossroads GPS, organized as a nonprofit group, is not required to disclose its donors.
Obama has criticized the Supreme Court ruling and the kind of unregulated, undisclosed spending it allowed. But Democrats lost control of the House and lost several Senate seats in 2010, in part because of the spending imbalance between Republican and Democratic leaning groups.
Several new Democratic groups have formed this year hoping to go compete with Crossroads and other conservative groups. One of those is Priorities USA, founded by former Obama White House aides Sean Sweeney and Bill Burton.
In a statement, Burton blamed Rove and other Republicans for the country's economic mess and said the Crossroads ad campaign showed they don't want to help fix it.
"Whether it's by running millions of dollars in negative ads about the economy or by walking away from critical economic talks in Congress, Washington Republicans are demonstrating an unwavering commitment to stopping any real progress on the economy," Burton said.
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