Pushing back aggressively at his critics, President Obama’s reelection campaign is launching its first television ad campaign of the race Thursday with a spot that defends his ethics and energy policy.
The commercial fires back at the conservative organization Americans for Prosperity, which started its own $6-million ad campaign this week attacking the Obama administration’s support for the failed solar energy company Solyndra. (Watch video below.)
The Obama ad accuses the group of being funded by “secretive billionaires” and defends the president’s record on clean energy, saying he has helped reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
With the spot -- which begins airing Thursday on national cable and on broadcast television in Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin – Obama is effectively kicking off the general election before Republicans have settled on a nominee.
The early start reflects the expectation among Democrats that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will ultimately emerge as the GOP challenger, as well as the need to bolster the president’s standing after weathering a barrage of attacks throughout the primary process.
“Barack Obama’s unprecedented move indicates that he and his campaign team in Chicago are worried that voters have lost faith in his ability to lead,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Ryan Tronovitch.
It is unusual for an incumbent to begin airing commercials so early in the process. In 2004,President George W. Bush’s campaign started running television ads in March.
“Budget permitting, it’s never too early to start defining your race, setting the storyline, and Romney won’t be able to do that for months,” said Democratic media strategist Jim Jordan. “Obviously, too, this is an expression of confidence in their fundraising.”
Indeed, Obama has plenty of funds at his disposal. Last quarter, he raised more than $42 million for the reelection campaign, along with $24 million that went to the Democratic National Committee. In all, the reelection effort has raised more than $220 million since the campaign started in April 2011.