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American Crossroads make a major House play

1. American Crossroads, the behemoth conservative organization that has already spent tens of millions on ads targeting Senate races, will drop more than $3 million on ads targeting a dozen House districts over the next two days.

Beginning tomorrow, American Crossroads will launch ads against Democratic Reps. Heath Shuler (N.C.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.) and Scott Murphy (N.Y.) and continue their ad campaign against Rep. Maurice Hinchey (N.Y) and in support of Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii).

Then on Wednesday, Crossroads GPS, an issue-based group affiliated with American Crossroads, will launch ads against Democratic Reps. Jim Costa (Calif.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Russ Carnahan (Mo.), Earl Pomeroy (N.D.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.), John Boccieri (Ohio) and Ciro Rodriguez (Texas).

The ads are a mix of district-specific and generic; the Hinchey commercial, for example, features audio of Hinchey telling a reporter to "shut up" and that he is "full of baloney".

The National Republican Congressional Committee has been on television for several weeks in eight of the districts -- Hawaii's 1st, Georgia's 2nd, New York's 20th, Indiana's 2nd, North Dakota's at large seat, Tennessee's 4th, Ohio's 16th and Texas 23rd -- and so the Crossroads spending is a sign that GOP strategists are doubling down.

"With these buys we're opening up the field well beyond the battleground lost in 2006 and 2008, to some districts that haven't been competitive since the 1990s," said American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio. "These opportunities are only possible because [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and [President Barack] Obama made House Democrats walk the plank on so many far-left votes over the past 20 months."

Of the dozen districts being targeted by American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, eight were carried by President Obama in 2008 including three -- Hawaii's 1st, California's 20th and Missouri's 3rd -- where he won better than 60 percent.

The new spending by American Crossroads is sure to further inflame the White House -- and House Democrats -- who have spent the better part of the last month warning of the dangers posed by just these sort of groups.

At a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Rhode Island last night, Obama harped on that theme. "They are now using these phony front groups to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars in negative ads all across the country, distorting the records of Democrats," he said.

2. A new Democratic poll shows Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) and GOP Rep. Mark Kirk in a statistical tie in the state's open Senate race.

The poll, conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, shows Giannoulias at 41 percent and Kirk at 39 percent in a head-to-head matchup. When Libertarian Mike Labno and Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones are included in the ballot test, Giannoulias takes 38 percent to 36 percent for Kirk.

The DSCC's poll comes on the heels of a Chicago Tribune poll that showed Kirk at 44 percent and Giannoulias at 41 percent, and a Mason-Dixon survey that showed the Republican at 43 and the Democrat at 41.

The Tribune poll was trumpeted by Republicans because it had shown Giannoulias leading by two points a month ago.

Remember: All three polls show the race remains within the margin of error, which is where it has stood since the end of the February primary. And, the Real Clear Politics polling average of the race shows Kirk with a narrow two-point edge.

This race will be very close, which is one reason it made the Fix's "Big Six".

3. California Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) is up with a new TV ad that uses former eBay CEO Meg Whitman's (R) own words against her.

The ad features footage of a TV interview in which Whitman says, "You know, thirty years ago, anything was possible in this state," followed by words on screen that ask: "You know who was Governor 30 years ago? Jerry Brown."

The ad goes on to tout Brown's record as governor during the 1970s, saying that he "cut waste, got rid of the mansion and the limo," balanced the budget and provided "$4 billion in tax cuts." The spot closes with footage of Whitman saying, "It's why I came to California so many years ago."

It's an interesting tactic by Brown in a year where a long political resume has generally been seen as a negative. But, Brown and his campaign clearly believe that touting what he did in office and raising questions about Whitman's fitness for office -- she has never run for anything before -- will persuade those final undecided voters.

The new spot comes on the heels of a new Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll showing Brown surging to a 13-point lead in the race.

Whitman has spent $163 million on the race to date, including $23 million in the first half of October - that's more than $1.4 million a day, for those keeping score at home. Brown, meanwhile, has spent about $25.3 million total on his campaign.

If Whitman keeps spending at her current clip, she'll be on track to spend another $10 million or so between now and Election Day. She has also spent better than $140 million of her own money on the contest.

But, with polls showing the momentum on Brown's side, will such big spending be enough to bail Whitman out?

4. Another new poll shows Gov. Joe Manchin (D) has reasserted a lead in the open West Virginia Senate race.

The survey from Democratic-leaning automated pollster Public Policy Polling shows Manchin inching up to 50 percent, while Republican businessman John Raese trails at 44 percent.

The poll comes after another Democratic survey -- this one from Manchin's campaign -- showed the governor opening up a 48 percent to 43 percent lead. Other polling has shown everything from a five-point Raese lead to a 10-point Manchin edge.

The trendlines in PPP's polling are encouraging for Manchin, though. The pollster last month was the first to show Manchin trailing Raese, by three points. And two weeks ago, it showed Manchin's lead at three.

Manchin appears to be increasing his share of conservative voters, taking nearly one-quarter of them as he asserts his independence from the White House and also as Raese's negatives begin to rise.

Raese's favorable rating is in negative territory -- just as it was in Manchin's poll last week. Just 42 percent of voters view him favorably, compared to 47 percent who view him unfavorably. Manchin earned the approval of 69 percent of voters.

Manchin is hoping to pour it on with a new negative ad that uses Raese's own words against him to devastating effect. The toughest line features Raese saying "we need to put 1,000 laser systems into the sky".

5. The 60 Plus Association, a Virginia-based group that bills itself as the conservative alternative to the AARP, is going up with a new $600,000 national cable ad buy calling for the repeal of the national health care overhaul.

The minute-long ad, which features World War II veteran Philip Storer, is slated to run on Fox News, CNN, Headline News, Discover and AMC.

"I was one of thousands who landed on D-Day," Storer says in the ad. "We fought to protect something we all hold very dear: our freedoms. Today, our freedoms are threatened by a very different kind of enemy. The enemy is big government, wasteful spending and crushing debt. Nowhere is this threat more apparent than in the attempted government takeover of health care."

Storer goes on to warn that if health care reform isn't repealed, "government will grow, debt will explode, choices will become fewer and your freedoms will be chipped away."

The group, which spearheaded a $9 million campaign against health care reform in 2009, has been ramping up its efforts this year, spending $7 million on TV ads to date.

An AP-GFK poll shows that a majority of Americans oppose the health care overhaul; 52 percent of likely voters surveyed said they oppose it while 41 percent said they support it.

With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez

By Aaron Blake  | October 26, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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