Hard-hitting and high-priced political ads are airing around the country this week, an early indication that the coming 2012 election campaign will set records for spending and broadcast acrimony.
Crossroads GPS, the conservative-oriented advocacy organization founded in part by GOP strategist Karl Rove, confirmed Friday that it is launching a $5 million advertising buy attacking the Obama economic record.
Wednesday morning, the Democratic-oriented group that sees itself as countering Crossroads -- Priorities USA -- announced its plan to buy more than $700,000 in advertising responding to the attack.
“We are Americans. We know right from wrong. And we know the ads blaming President Obama for the economy are politics at its worst,” according to a script released by Priorities USA. “The Republican have opposed economic reforms at every turn. And now they have a plan that would essentially end Medicare for future retirees, slash education, while giving huge tax breaks to big oil and the wealthy. We can’t rebuild America if they tear down the middle class.”
Priorities USA Action is led by former Obama White House staffers Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, and they promised that more is to come.
Their latest salvo produced eye-rolling at the Crossroads headquarters.
“Not only is the buy less than 20% of the Crossroads buy, but the messaging is goofy,” says Jonathan Collegio, spokesman for Crossroads.
“Crossroads hits the president over his handling of the economy, and their response is that it’s dirty politics to talk about the economy,” Collegio said. “In addition to the initial $5 million buy, Crossroads plans to spend $20 million this summer advertising on television and on the Web.
An official from Priorities USA kicked back with this: “We never expected we would be able to match Karl Rove dollar-for-dollar, but we have a smarter advertising strategy and are running more effective ads. For example, our buy is far more efficient in that we are more focused on markets that speak directly to swing voters in swing states. And, as you know, we just formed a couple months ago but will be ramping up our activity, especially as we get closer to the end of this year.”
In battleground states, the Democratic-aligned group said it is matching Crossroads at about an 80% level.
Both Democrats and Republican groups have already used these initial salvos to raise funds. Crossroads last week launched an attack in Missouri against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, who immediately sent out a letter seeking contributions helping her to combat the Crossroads-style attacks.
Majority PAC, a political advocacy organization formed by former Democratic Senate staffers, also launched a radio ad campaign in Missouri this week attacking Republicans for pushing a budget plan it says would “essentially end Medicare.”
The Medicare and healthcare debate has so far drawn the most attention in the public-relations wars.
Last week, the conservative group 60 Plus announced a $1.4 million advertising campaign praising Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial Medicare agenda. Meantime, AARP recently launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to “make sure Social Security and Medicare are off the table.”
In coming days, a coalition of seniors organizations and health advocacy group will hold press events in eight states to advertise the free preventive-care benefits provided to seniors under the Affordable Care Act.
Here’s the Priorities USA Action spot: