Bloomberg News

Obama Campaign to Air First Television Ad Today in Swing States

January 19, 2012

(For more 2012 campaign news, see ELECT.)

Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is releasing its first 2012 broadcast advertisement as his team seeks to counter attacks and get a jump on Republicans while they battle over selecting their nominee to challenge him.

The ad, called “Unprecedented,” highlights Obama’s record on clean energy and responds to what it says are “secretive oil billionaires” making inaccurate charges against him. It begins running today in Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, according to a campaign official.

The move begins a new phase in the campaign cycle and provides another outlet for Obama’s drive to engage Republican candidates and outside groups supporting them with millions of dollars in ads aimed at the president.

This week the independent group Americans for Prosperity, founded by billionaire David Koch, started a $6 million ad campaign in swing states Obama won in 2008 that spotlights the president’s ties to bankrupt solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC. The Obama campaign official declined to disclose the cost of the ad buy.

The ad, which closes with a narrator saying Obama has kept his promise to “strengthen America’s energy economy,” follows by one day the administration’s denial of a permit to build TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline. That announcement, while expected, has drawn criticism from Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He said the decision shows Obama isn’t serious about “achieving energy independence.” The Obama campaign official said the ad’s timing is unrelated.

Florida as Battleground

Even though the ad won’t air in the battleground state of Florida today, Obama will be traveling there to announce a strategy for promoting tourism. The state, where the unemployment rate is 10 percent, will award 29 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. The Democratic candidate carried the state twice and the Republican twice in the last four elections.

Priorities USA, an independent political action committee founded by former administration officials to support Obama, already has run ads in several states. The super-PAC is banned by law from coordinating its activities with Obama’s re-election campaign.

The group has spent an estimated $660,640 in this cycle, according to data from New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, a company that tracks advertising. Priorities USA has spent the most in Florida: $214,310.

The Tea Party-aligned Americans for Prosperity is spending $5.2 million to place its ad, called “Obama Sacrifices Pawns for Politics,” on network and cable stations, as well as another $1 million through social media forums.

Opposition Ads

The group’s ad hit the airwaves yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Democrats will hold their national convention in September. Americans for Prosperity also plans to air it in states that include Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Wisconsin and Michigan, according to Tim Phillips, the group’s president. All are battleground states that Obama won in 2008.

The Obama administration’s $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy in September, has become a focal point for the president’s Republican critics. House Republicans, who are investigating the bankruptcy and the administration’s ties to the company, have said politics influenced the Department of Energy guarantee, which the White House and Solyndra’s backers have denied.

‘Very Concerning Thing’

Koch and his brother, Charles, control Koch Industries Inc., a closely held refining and chemicals company.

Obama’s advisers have said spending by independent groups will change the landscape of this election. His chief political strategist, David Axelrod, said that is among his top concerns for the re-election effort this year.

“They’re talking upwards of half a billion in negative ads aimed at the president from interest groups who don’t disclose and who can raise unlimited amounts of money,” he said on Jan. 15 on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The president’s campaign committee and the Democratic National Committee raised a combined $224 million last year, including $68 million in the last three months of 2011.

By comparison, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who won the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and is the leading contender for the Republican nomination, reported raising $56 million in 2011, the most among the party’s presidential contenders.

The Republican National Committee, which will support the party’s eventual nominee, had raised almost $77 million through November, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission. Finance reports for the final quarter are due at the end of the month.

The Obama campaign also is considering running ads in media markets for Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada and Pennsylvania, the official said.

--Editors: Jim Rubin, Joe Sobczyk.

To contact the reporters on this story: Julianna Goldman in Washington at jgoldman6@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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