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Pro-Edwards 527 Hits TV Airwaves in Iowa Today

Over the past three days, Democratic presidential hopefuls John Edwards and Barack Obama have publicly squabbled over an outside group with ties to Edwards that is funding a series of ads obliquely touting his candidacy.

The group at the center of the controversy is known as the Alliance for New America and was first reported in The Sunday Fix. The group is backed by a number of state and local branches of the Service Employees International Union and is being advised by Nick Baldick, who managed Edwards's 2004 presidential campaign.

The Alliance for a New America has already spent nearly $600,000 on a flight of radio ads in Iowa that hew closely to the Edwards campaign message. What prompted Obama's ire was a report that the group was planning to spend $750,000 on a television ad buy over the final 10 days before the Iowa caucuses.

The Fix has obtained the script of the ad. It will hit Iowa television today.

"The price of dependence on foreign oil; Health care in crisis; Government run by corporate lobbyists; Isn't it time someone had a plan to take them on?" asks the ad's narrator. The ad goes on to detail the "Edwards plan" that would -- among other things -- "Ban campaign cash from lobbyists; End tax breaks for Big Oil; Stop job-killing trade deals; Stand up to insurance companies for real health reform."

At the ad's end, the narrator urges: "Ask all the candidates for their plans to level the playing field."

Asked about the ads, Shane Allers, the executive director of SEUI Local 284 out of Minnesota, insisted that the group is not simply an Edwards shadow vehicle but rather "an issue organization with its own distinct agenda -- to ensure candidates are asked how they will make the middle class and issues like health care their top priority in Washington."

Sure, but the truth of the matter is that the only ads the Alliance has run to date tout Edwards's plans. And the spots directly echo the "people versus the powerful" message of the Edwards campaign.

That's not to say, however, the Alliance is doing anything terribly new or, frankly, all that controversial.

Remember that in the final days of the 2004 Democratic campaign, an independent organization called Americans for Jobs, Health Care & Progressive Values savaged former governor Howard Dean (Vt.). Robert Gibbs, who had served a stint as Sen. John Kerry's (Mass.) presidential communications director, was affiliated with the group. (Gibbs is now the communications director for Obama's presidential campaign.)

While Edwards is probably not thrilled about all the attention the Alliance is drawing, we're pretty sure that the $750,000 it will spend on positive ads touting his plans for the country will more than make up for any ill feelings. In politics, money talks. And, ANY candidate would trade a few days of dicey press coverage for three-quarters of a million dollars in free campaign ads.

Watch the ad:

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 26, 2007; 9:10 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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