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Next wave of Obamacare war: Ads to hold lawmakers 'accountable'

October 23, 2013|By Maeve Reston

As it wages a state-by-state battle to limit the reach of the nation's healthcare law, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity is launching a $2-million ad buy to hold congressional lawmakers “accountable” for their votes on Obamacare.

AFP is launching the first round of the new television ads Wednesday in Arizona, Colorado, Florida and California, where they are targeting Rep. Scott Peters of San Diego, a freshman Democrat.

Some of the ads are intended to reward lawmakers who have consistently advocated for the law’s repeal, including those thanking Florida’s U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland and Colorado’s Rep. Mike Coffman. Others mark a first foray into the 2014 campaigns, such as those targeting Arizona’s U.S. Rep. Ron Barber and Peters, who is facing one of the tightest races in California in his district along the San Diego coast.

The ads touch on the major structural problems facing the government’s new website, showing a laptop screen with an error message that reads “Your healthcare is offline” -- as a green line mimicking a heart monitor flatlines across the screen.

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“What if later, bigger glitches prevent my family’s access to care or I can’t get the surgery my doctor thinks I need because of some policy in Washington?” a female narrator intones.

Warning messages flash on screen citing worries about the bill: “You might not be able to keep your doctor under Obamacare” and the specter of insurance premium increases.

AFP, which is now active in 34 states and expanding its ground organization to include Louisiana, spent $7.5 million on ads earlier this year featuring young mothers who talked about their worries about how the law would affect their families. The largest buys were in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Alaska and Texas.

The new ads will run over the next three weeks and be supplemented by radio ads, phone banking and door-to-door canvassing.

AFP President Tim Phillips said the group’s aim is to keep the president’s healthcare law “at the forefront.” He said the group plans to keep pressure on members of Congress who “cast the deciding votes that made this disastrous legislation the law of the land.”

This summer, the advertising tracking group Kantar Media CMAG estimated opponents of the healthcare law have outspent the law’s advocates 5 to 1 since the debate began before the law’s passage in 2010. On Tuesday, the President appealed to his supporters to counter the efforts of groups such as AFP.

In a video message for the advocacy group formed by his advisors, Organizing for America, Obama asked his one-time supporters to get involved in “Team Obamacare,” and the OFA website warned opponents of the law have already spent $400 million on anti-Obamacare ads.

“We don’t have to beat that,” the OFA website says in a plea for donations, “but we need to have the resources to fight back.”

Twitter: @MaeveReston

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