A conservative group has begun a two-week run of ads across Virginia accusing Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine of selling out Virginia to advance President Barack Obama's priorities in Washington.
American Crossroads, an independent super PAC that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash, is paying $1.6 million for the 30-second ad that knits together disconnected, out-of-context patchwork of Kaine sound bites. The ad first aired Wednesday.
The group is running similar ads attacking Democratic Senate candidates in Nevada and Nebraska.
While federal law prohibits American Crossroads and similar groups from coordinating with the candidate's campaign, the newest Virginia ad debuted the day after George Allen won the GOP primary over three lesser-known conservatives. And it repeats Allen's mantra that Kaine is a puppet for Obama.
The commercial joins an already congested television rotation of political ads across Virginia, a swing state both parties are fiercely contesting. By Election Day, total political advertising and campaign costs will eclipse $60 million and possibly reach $100 million in Virginia if the races remain close, said Steve Jarding of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Jarding was a consultant to Democratic Sen. Jim Webb's 2006 campaign.
Polls last week show Obama with a slight lead over Republican Mitt Romney in Virginia and the race between Allen and Kaine tied.
The Virginia Senate ad accurately notes Kaine's close relationship with Obama and speeches and national television appearances he made as chairman of the Democratic National Committee to support the president's initiatives.
It notes more than 65,000 new unemployment claims while Kaine doubled as governor and DNC chairman, but it neglects the role a crippling recession born under Republican President George W. Bush played in creating them.
American Crossroads and its sister organization, Crossroads GPS, both guided by former Bush political adviser Karl Rove, have been airing ads attacking Kaine since last fall. All of them attempt to impeach Kaine through his close ties to Obama.
Crossroads GPS is a tax-exempt nonprofit that can also raise and spend unlimited amounts on political ads, but it must spend more money on policy advocacy than on politics. Unlike American Crossroads, it is not required to disclose its donors to the Federal Election Commission.
A November ad by Crossroads GPS portrayed Kaine as a comical shill for the president, “Obama's partisan cheerleader,” and another in April portrayed Kaine and Obama as sharing an affinity for reckless spending, higher taxes and government shortfalls.
A pro-Democratic independent group, Majority PAC, has televised ads that attack Allen for a Virginia budget that expanded while he was governor and explosive growth in federal spending when Allen was part of a Republican Congress.
The ad closely tracks Kaine's strategy against Allen, who is running to regain the seat he lost six years ago to Webb. Webb is not seeking a second term.
The Senate candidates themselves have yet to start their advertising battle against each other. Kaine, however, has purchased $2.5 million worth of television air time for ads he has not yet unveiled.