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Conservative Group Aims Ad at Vacationing Obama

Updated 4:47 p.m.
By Ben Pershing
Seeking to ensure that President Obama has a less-than-restful vacation, a group opposed to the White House's health-care proposals is launching an ad campaign next week that will run locally during Obama's sojourn in Martha's Vineyard.

Conservatives for Patients' Rights says it plans to run a spot entitled "Surf's Up" on Martha's Vineyard and Boston area television that implores the president to drop his pursuit of a public health insurance option. The ad is just the latest salvo in a multimillion-dollar message war over the fate of health reform that has shown no sign of abating, even during the normally quiet final weeks of summer.

"The beach is nice this time of year," begins the ad's narrator.

"But while President Obama vacations, concerns mount about his health-care plan. Why? Because his public option health plan could lead to government-run health care, higher taxes on everything from paychecks to soda, and add a trillion to the deficit. Mr. President, when you go back to D.C., drop your government-run public option plan. Let's get on with real reform to lower costs and protect patients' rights."

The conservative group says it has laid out "more than $150,000" for the ad campaign, a relatively small amount given that more than $60 million has been spent on health-care ads this year, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. But CPR hopes to make its dollars count by putting its ad on the air in front of Obama, his staff and the traveling White House press corps. The group even made a point of buying time during next week's baseball series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox, Obama's favorite team.

"While President Obama is vacationing in the surf at Martha's Vineyard, Americans are growing increasingly anxious that the public option will raise costs, not lower them," said Rick Scott, the controversial former hospital CEO who chairs CPR. "He should drop the public option plan and go back to the drawing board."

On Wednesday Scott sent out an internal memo, published on (a Washington Post Co. Web site), warning that "the public option isn't dead yet" and pledging to keep up the pressure on Obama with a "Martha's Vineyard ad strategy."

Asked at Friday's briefing about the ad, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs made reference to Scott's past legal problems. "Well, I think -- this is -- this is the same individual that we've talked about in here who's the recipient of -- just so we do this so everybody understands -- of the largest health-care penalty ever issued by a federal government for fraud for a company he was the CEO of, right?" Gibbs said.

Scott was pushed out from his post atop the Columbia/HCA health-care company during a fraud investigation in the 1990s. The firm paid a record $1.7 billion in fines after pleading guilty to charges that it overbilled state and federal health plans.

Targeting vacationing presidents via the airwaves is nothing new. It was commonplace for groups to purchase ad time in Waco, Tex., when President George W. Bush was at his ranch in nearby Crawford (and accompanying reporters had a lot of down time to watch TV).

While CPR focuses on Martha's Vineyard, other groups in the health-care fight will spend the remainder of August on the air nationally and in key congressional districts.

The liberal group Americans United for Change will begin running an ad next week titled "Real Death Panels" nationally on MSNBC and CNN, as well as on Washington-area cable networks. The spot accuses conservatives such as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck of spreading "lies" about Democrats' reform plans while insurance companies allegedly deny lifesaving care to patients. A group spokesman said the campaign's initial price tag was "in the low five figures."

On Thursday, the conservative group Club for Growth launched its third ad in a $1.2 million campaign, this one running in the home states of GOP Sens. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.). The ad urges the three senators -- all of whom are among the Finance Committee's "Gang of Six" health-care negotiators -- "not to cave in to the liberals" in reform talks.

The conservative Independent Women's Forum is also targeting key senators, running more than $2 million worth of anti-public option ads in Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada and North Dakota. And the National Republican Congressional Committee is airing ads against Democratic Reps. Michael Arcuri (N.Y.) and Zach Space (Ohio) for allying themselves with Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) while they are "cooking up a risky experiment on health care."

By Ben Pershing  |  August 21, 2009; 1:03 PM ET
Categories:  Health Care  
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I realise that this is a preexisting condition but it makes me sick to see my premiums spent by health insurance companies to run these ads and even sicker to see my premiums going into Rick Scott's pocket. Money I know that I'll never see again.

Either the government will own a public health insurance plan or the insurance company(!) will own the government. There are no other choices.

Posted by: glenglish | August 22, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Check out this video where AMA physicians answer patient questions about health system reform and debunk some of the myths that are still out there.

Posted by: AmerMedicalAssn | August 21, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

It costs us taxpayers more than $2 BILLION per year to fly Air Force One all over the world and run the White House. Shouldn't Obama be cutting back on travel during this recession? Leading by example?

Posted by: JakeD | August 21, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

NKelly1: "Bush went away the month of August. There were no Republican or Democrats complaining that I know of..."

Are you new to following the news? First of all, a president is never on "vacation" the way you or I are. Secondly, everyone FREAKED OUT when Bush went home to Crawford. Come on, here. Mostly, though, that's 'cause they hated having to go to Texas.

Oh, and he didn't "start" the war in Afghanistan, either. As for the one in Iraq, he finished it, as a state of war had existed since Saddam Hussein started it in 1991. The terms of the armistice gave the allies (us) the option to resume hostilities at any time if the vanquished party did not live up to the terms of the agreement.

President Clinton employed this very portion of the agreement to spank Saddam many times over his presidency for various violations.


Posted by: chicoandtheman2001 | August 21, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I voted for Obama, i back his health plan, But am losing faith in him, he is not focus on what is going on, seems to combine family fun with americas business, Harvard is a good school, they can educated anyone beyond their personal IQ.

Posted by: dv1236 | August 21, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I voted for Obama, i back his health plan, But am losing faith in him, he is not focus on what is going on, seems to combine family fun with americas business, Harvard is a good school, they can educated anyone behond their personal IQ.

Posted by: dv1236 | August 21, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

With all the unemployment in this country and people suffering, Obama thinks nothing of vacationing in swanky Martha's Vineyard. How can he get away with this with all the suffering that is going on around him? Didn't he just conclude a Paris vacation with his family recently? How many vacations and flights on AF 1 does he get? I guess Democrats are absolved from criticism since they "feel" for the down and out. The liberal press is happy, however, and that is the only thing that matters to this White House. I'm sure they will make Obama look good despite the misery that is going on around him..

Posted by: saelij | August 21, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Jack Smith1......your numbers are very wrong. Most Americans do not want this latest "gotta pass it now" health care bill. Reform is needed....but not a 2000
page bill that no one in Washington has read.

There are not 50 million people that do not have insurance. The number seems to go up every day.

The costs will not go down. Read the CBO report.

The quality will not get better.

I have friends in Canada, England, and Australia. They all say their health care systems are broken and bankrupt. They come HERE and pay cash for live saving procedures everyday.

So, rather then goofing up EVERYONES healthcare, lets take the time to propose a plan that does not bankrupt the entire country so a few million freeloaders can get a free ride.

Also...considering how much you all bash Bush for all his vacations, perhaps Mr. Obama needs to stay in Washington and do his frigging job. He seems to be on a new trip every single week, or vacation.

Posted by: rick2008 | August 21, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Rick Scott, the guy gets fired for ripping off the government for medicare dollars and he's lecturing us on how to reform health Insurance???!? Of course he wants the system to stay unchanged.

This is like Haggart lecturing us on the dangers of drug use and homosexual prostitution, or Stanford on marital fidelity. But wait, we're talking about Republicans here. Shameless hypocrites.

Posted by: thebobbob | August 21, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Democrats, if you ever hope to be relevant again I do hope that you're taking notes about how the politics game is played. When you decide to grow a pair and fight for things, this is how you win. Health care is as dead as the 50 million Americans who currently have none.

Posted by: screwyou | August 21, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse


On what planet do you spend most of your time?

"Targeting vacationing presidents via the airwaves is nothing new. It was commonplace for groups to purchase ad time in Waco, Tex., when President George W. Bush was at his ranch in nearby Crawford (and accompanying reporters had a lot of down time to watch TV)."

Posted by: JakeD | August 21, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Why are you giving space to a triviality, Washington Post? All Presidents take vacation. A President should take time off. That's how people rejuvenate and to get away w/his family to a place that will not likely attract attention seems logical.
Bush went away the month of August. There were no Republican or Democrats complaining that I know of, and there were two wars going on that he started.

Posted by: nkelly1 | August 21, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse


More than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 71% of independents, and 72% of republicans). Basically everyone.

AND NO INSURANCE MANDATES OR TAX PAYER SUBSIDIES WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION ON DAY ONE! An insurance mandate and subsidies without a strong government-run public option choice on day one, would be a DISASTER! And it would be worse than the GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTH INSURANCE HORROR! SHOW you have now. YOU MUST MAKE CERTAIN!! THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN AMERICA.

The healthcare reform bills released by the first two committees of the House Of Representatives are excellent bills as I understand them. They are bills with a strong, robust, government-run public option, and an intelligent, reasonable initial funding plan to cover almost all of the American people. They are carefully written, and thoughtfully constructed, informed, prudent and wise. These bills will save trillions of dollars, and millions of your lives. They are also now supported by the AMA.

These are the type of bills that all Americans can feel good about. And these are the type of bills that have the potential to dramatically improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans. Rich, middle class and poor a like. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all other party affiliations. These bills have the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of every American.

The house healthcare bills released by the first two committees should be viewed as the minimum GOLD STANDARD by which all other proposed healthcare legislation should be judged. All supporters of true high quality healthcare reform should now place all your support behind these healthcare reform bills released by the first two committees of the United States House Of Representatives, as the minimum Gold standard for healthcare reform in America.

You should all now support the first two committees bills with all your might, and all of your unrelenting tenacity. These first two House committees healthcare bills are VERY, VERY GOOD! bills for all of the American people. Fight tooth, and nail for every bit of these bills if you have too. Be aggressive, creative, and relentless for these bills.

From this time forward, go BIGGER and DEEPER with the American people every day until passage of healthcare reform with a robust, government-run public option.

FIGHT!! like your life and the lives of your loved ones depends on it. BECAUSE IT DOES!


Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (


God Bless You

Jack Smith — Working Class

Posted by: JackSmith1 | August 21, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: JakeD | August 21, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

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