Pro-Republican group plans $25 million anti-Obama ad blitz

Reuters News
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Posted: May 18, 2012 12:44 PM
Pro-Republican group plans $25 million anti-Obama ad blitz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Crossroads GPS, a pro-Republican political group, is planning to spend $25 million in the next month on its largest ad assault against President Barack Obama yet this campaign season.

The new advertising wave by the group, which supports presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is expected to begin on Thursday with an $8 million TV ad blitz in 10 states expected to be hotly contested in the November 6 election.

The formidable non-profit Crossroads GPS and its sister Super PAC American Crossroads have pledged to spend some $200 million to help defeat Obama. The Crossroads groups were conceived in part by Karl Rove, chief strategist of Republican George W. Bush's two presidential election wins.

The $25 million ad initiative effectively matches a $25 million month-long ad campaign by the Obama camp running in nine of the swing states - Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.

Crossroads' new ad pledge, which will run in the nine states Obama has targeted plus Michigan, brings its anti-Obama spending to more than $45 million, spokesman Jonathan Collegio said.

The ad highlights several of Obama's promises the group says the president broke on issues such as home foreclosures, taxes, healthcare and the federal budget deficit. "We need solutions, not just promises," the 60-second ad says.

The Obama campaign ad in the nine states is generally positive, highlighting the problems Obama says he inherited as president and mentioning his efforts to create jobs, bring U.S. troops home from overseas and helping the auto industry.

Obama's re-election campaign and Democratic groups affiliated with it raised $43.6 million in April, a drop from the previous month. However, Obama has far outpaced Romney in fundraising, emerging at the end of March with $104 million in cash on hand, compared with Romney's $10 million, according to the latest campaign finance disclosure filings.

Campaigns can take only $2,500 from each donor, once for the primary process and again for the general election. Super PACs can take unlimited donations as long as they do not coordinate with the campaigns.

Several Republican groups have targeted Obama with ads in recent weeks, including Restore Our Future, an independent Super PAC backing Romney, and Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy group funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of the oil and gas conglomerate Koch Industries.

BAIN ATTACK ADS

Although Obama has far outpaced Romney in the money haul, his campaign has been receiving much less help from the outside Super PAC backing Obama's re-election, Priorities USA Action.

Nonetheless, Priorities this week came out swinging at Romney's past as an executive at Bain Capital, a private equity firm. A $4 million ad by the Super PAC in swing states focused on a Kansas City steel mill that went bankrupt under Bain.

The Super PAC's ad picked up on an attack originally launched by the Obama campaign itself, but that ad barely hit TV, largely staying on the web.

Just as there are two Crossroads groups, the pro-Obama Super PAC has a non-profit sister group that is a "social welfare" advocacy group that, under the U.S. tax code, is not required to disclose its donors.

On Monday, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the non-profit groups are now required to disclose any donor who contributed more than $1,000 if they air so-called electioneering ads.

Electioneering ads are ads aired within 60 days of the general election or 30 days of a primary vote that mention the candidate's name or use his or her likeness without specifically calling for election or defeat.

The ruling is expected to be appealed.

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; additional reporting by Alexander Cohen; Editing by Eric Beech)