Independent Ad Knocks Obama
By Matthew Mosk
While the role of outside groups has been somewhat muted during the 2008 campaigns, that may not last much longer.
An independent group called Let Freedom Ring has begun to reserve advertising time on national broadcast and cable networks for a commercial that attacks Democratic Sen. Barack Obama as not just a "flip flopper" but someone who "holds two positions at the same time."
Colin Hanna, president of the group, said this morning that "The actual buy is being worked on as we speak. We have submitted the copy and the tape to all of the major broadcast and cable networks and are going through the clearance process."
Hanna said the group is planning to spend "several hundred thousand dollars for a national buy" that will begin airing next week.
Let Freedom Ring has been in operation for about four years. Members describe it as a "non-profit, grassroots organization supporting a Conservative agenda." The group helped promote George W. Bush in 2004, and has advocated for construction of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The identity of the people paying for the ads remains a mystery. Unlike political action committees and 527 groups, organizations set up as nonprofits do not have to disclose their donors, a point Hanna emphasized when he was asked to identify the sponsors of the anti-Obama ad.
"It's all financed by private individuals," Hanna said. "The IRS rules regarding donors do not require disclosure. Donors can give with the assurance that we will not share their identities."
Hanna said the advertising would not be the full extent of the group's involvement in the 2008 presidential campaign.
"We have a multi-pronged strategy," Hanna said. "This will not be the only thing you hear from Let Freedom Ring."
Hanna said the group will continue its efforts whether or not they are welcomed by the McCain campaign. "Senator McCain's personal desires should not be a part of our consideration. In fact, to do so, would approach the legally impermissible question of coordination."
The ad itself attempts to capitalize on what Obama critics have called a tactical shift to the center by the Illinois senator.
"People are saying that Senator Obama's recent changes of position have made him a flip-flopper. He's not! Flip-floppers only hold one position at a time," the ad says. "Senator Obama is different: he holds two positions at the same time. Both ways on banning handguns. Both ways on public campaign financing. And now, both ways on withdrawing from Iraq. He's 'Both Ways Barack.' Worse than a flip-flopper!"
Web Politics Editor
July 19, 2008; 12:06 PM ET
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