Former White House aides are joining Republican fundraisers in bankrolling a $15 million, five-week advertising campaign putting pressure on lawmakers whose backing of President Bush's Iraq war strategy may be wavering.
The group, Freedom's Watch, launched the ads Wednesday, even as Bush delivered a renewed call for keeping U.S. forces in Iraq. The money will pay for ad placements on national cable and local television stations as well as on radio and the Internet.
The ads will run in 20 states and will urge viewers to ask their member of Congress to stand by Bush's plan. Organizers of the effort would not identify the targeted lawmakers, but a review of the initial TV ad placements done by a group opposed to the war shows most of them are in Republican congressional districts.
Kagro already wrote about their efforts to pre-screen callers to make sure only pro-war messages get through to Congress. They know far too many people would pick up the phone and deliver the far more popular message -- get our troops home safely to their families.
But anytime Republicans want to spend $15 million
attacking "pressuring" their own, all the while keeping Iraq prominently in the public consciousness, is a time to celebrate. And what's best, they're putting pressure on Republicans that might waver because of electoral demands. In other words -- making it harder for those endangered Republicans to adjust to public opinion in their districts.
Americans United for Change, which is running anti-war ads in many districts across the country, has compiled a list (sent via email) of where the Bush Republicans are running their ad.
(Asterix denotes Republican)
Member Market $$ Spent
Domenici*/Wilson* Albuqurque, NM $254,190
Collins*/Snowe* Portland, ME $105,995
Collins*/Snowe* Bangor, ME $158,780
Grassley* Cedar Rapids, IA $118,165
Grassley*/Latham* Des Moines, IA $200,520
Grassley* Sioux City, IA $56,925
Ehlers* Grand Rapids, MI $177,435
Specter*/Platts* Harrisburg-Lancaster, PA $226,265
Specter*/Gerlach* Philadelphia, PA $922,325
Specter*/Murphy* Pittsburgh, PA $251,290
Coleman*/Ramstad* Minneapolis, MN $220,750
Porter* Las Vegas, NV $63,900
Heller* Reno, NV $138,210
LaTourette*/Voinovich*Youngstown, OH $32,935
Walsh* Syracuse, NY $144,955
Kuhl* Rochester, NY $187,235
Davis*/Warner* Washington DC $473,570
G. Smith* Bend, OR $66,285
G. Smith* Medford, OR $83,710
Pryor Little Rock, AR $351,420
Gilchrest* Salisbury, MD $145,925
Dole*/Inglis* Greenville-Spartanburg,NC $108,470
McConnell* Lexington, KY $126,635
McConnell* Louisville, KY $134,140
Hagel* Lincoln, NE $80,395
Look at this -- they're actually going after the Senate Minority Leader! And while they are painting themselves as an equal opportunity attack operation, targeting both Democrats and Republicans, there is only one Democrat on that entire list -- Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas. (The "Murphy" on the list is Republican Tim Murphy, not the Democratic one "Patrick".)
What's more, of these, the following face tough re-election battles next year: Rep. Heather Wilson in NM-01, Sen. Susan Collins in Maine, Rep. Jim Gerlach in PA-06, Sen. Norm Coleman in Minnesota, Rep. Jim Walsh in NY-25, Rep. Randy Kuhl in NY-29, Rep. Tom Davis who will likely be running for Senate in Virginia, Sen. Gordon Smith who faces a tough re-election climate in Oregon, Sen. Liddy Dole who won't get a pass in North Carolina, Rep. Jon Porter in NV-03, Rep. Dean Heller in NV-02, and Sen. Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.
That's the bulk of their list. They are actually attacking those members that most desperately need distance from the administration on Iraq.
Put another way, Bush Republicans care more about Mr. 25%'s legacy, than they care about their own electoral chances in 2008.
Amazing. And beautiful. Really, really beautiful.
Update: Here are their ads.
Update II: Kagro already noted that just pro-war supporters get patched through by this organization's operators. One reader wrote in about the experience:
Markos, you may have already seen this, but the operators answering the toll free number (1-877-222-8001) at the end of the pro-war ad targeting Republicans that started running today will only patch you through if you agree with the statement that “surrendering in Iraq will only open us up to terrorist attacks here at home.”
If you don’t agree with that statement, the operator won’t patch you through. She told me “we only help people who support the war” and hung up on me.
As Kagro wrote:
They won't even risk giving people the truth about Congress's phone number. Which, by the way, is (202) 224-3121 for the Senate, and (202) 225-3121 for the House.
Update III: After seeing the ads, I've changed the name of the post. It's not a "swiftboat" by traditional definition. It's merely ads pressuring those elected officials into taking an unpopular stand against the interests of their districts.