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Karl Rove-backed Crossroads launches $20-million ad campaign [Video]

June 24, 2011|By Tom Hamburger, Matea Gold and Kim Geiger

Reporting from Washington —

Crossroads GPS, one of the organizations founded by Karl Rove and other well-established Republicans last year to bolster the fortunes of conservative candidates, is launching on Monday a new television commercial (see video below) attacking President Obama’s economic policies – the first part of a staggering $20-million advertising campaign.

The sharp-edged spot is slated to begin running Monday as part of an initial $5-million advertising buy that will appear on national cable news channels, as well as on local network affiliates in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada and Virginia.

The commercial, called "Shovel Ready," begins with a clip of Obama at a construction site in June 2010, saying, "Our economy is now growing at a good clip." In a voiceover, a female announcer then details "the facts about the Obama record" – saying unemployment is up 25% and the national debt has increased by 35% since January 2009.

The spot then hits the president on the administration’s stimulus program, saying it has "failed."

In a clip from a meeting of his jobs council earlier this month, Obama is seen grinning sheepishly as he says, "Shovel ready was not as shovel ready as we expected."

"Fourteen million out of work," the ad concludes. "America drowning in debt.  It’s time to take away Obama’s blank check."  

The hard-hitting ad marks the beginning of what is expected to be a summer of dueling political jabs on the airwaves, thanks to the increasing activity of independent groups.

Crossroads plans to run its $20-million campaign over the next two months "to frame the national debate on jobs, the economy and the national debt in anticipation of congressional action on these issues," according to a news release from the group.

The Obama campaign responded by saying it is "no surprise that Karl Rove would produce an ad that clouds over the failed economic policies that led us into the recession and ignores the President's efforts that have put us on a path to recovery."

"Maybe that's because the Republican candidates are proposing a return to those same failed policies of the past – rolling back Wall Street oversight, extending tax cuts for the richest Americans on the backs of middle class families and ending Medicare as we know it," said campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

Bill Burton, senior strategist for Priorities USA, an independent Democratic group that plans to launch its own campaign supporting Obama's reelection, said in a statement: "Not content with the grave economic crisis he helped to leave our country with, Karl Rove now wants to stop President Obama from fixing it."

"Whether it's by running millions of dollars in negative ads about the economy or by walking away from critical economic talks in Congress, Washington Republicans are demonstrating an unwavering commitment to stopping any real progress on the economy," said Burton, a former White House spokesman.

Last week, the conservative group 60 Plus announced a $1.4-million advertising campaign praising Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial Medicare agenda.  The group spent more than $500,000 in the last week to place the ad during "Jeopardy," "Wheel of Fortune" and "60 Minutes" broadcasts in Ohio, Florida, and on national cable networks, according to Democratic ad trackers.  

And in what appeared to be the largest advertising buy of the year until now, AARP recently launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to "make sure Social Security and Medicare are off the table" as Congress debates ways to deal with the federal budget deficit, said spokeswoman Mary Liz Burns.

The campaign features two television ads.  The first, launched in May, urges voters to call members of Congress.  The second, launched late last week, attempts to engage voters through "a little bit of humor," Burns said.

The ad features seniors listing federal spending programs like "a cotton institute in Brazil, poetry at zoos" and "treadmills for shrimp."

"I guess it’s easier to cut the benefits we earned than to cut pickle technology," one of the seniors says.

The ad was placed on national networks and in major media markets throughout the country, Burns said.  

Melanie Mason contributed to this report.

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