New York Times: Romney ‘Super PAC’ Makes $12 Million Ad Buy
By JEREMY W. PETERS
October 18, 2012
The “super PAC” supporting Mitt Romney is making its most aggressive and expensive push yet in the advertising wars with a $12 million ad buy in nine states.
The expenditure represents a significant expansion of the group’s advertising campaign and will be a major boost for Mr. Romney with only two and a half weeks to go before Election Day.
The group, Restore Our Future, had been advertising only in a handful of states in recent weeks. But its latest ad buy will include almost all of the major battleground states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin — plus Michigan, which has been relatively quiet because President Obama is believed to have a sizable advantage there.
The money is for just six days of ads starting on Tuesday and includes some huge sums, according to a firm that tracks political advertising. Restore Our Future has reserved around $1 million in airtime for Iowa and Wisconsin, an amount that ensures its message will be on television in heavy rotation there because of their smaller-sized media markets. It has also committed $2.5 million to Ohio and $2.3 million to Florida.
Restore Our Future’s ads will help Mr. Romney remain competitive on the air. Until recently, the Obama campaign had been outspending the Romney campaign and its Republican allies in several battleground states. But Republicans believe that with polls showing the race tightening, and a small but potentially pivotal slice of voters still undecided, a messaging barrage in the final days before the election could make all the difference.
Carl Forti, a senior strategist for the group, said Thursday that the ads for the latest campaign are still being worked on. “Governor Romney continues to generate excitement among voters,” he said, “and we plan to play a pivotal role down the stretch as voters make their final decisions.”
Define and Conquer
In the era of Citizens United, not all super PACs are created equal. Sometimes, a resonant message matters far more than the millions spent.
By Alex Roarty
September 21, 2012
Thirty-six hours. That’s all the time Priorities USA Action, the lone outside super PAC backing President Obama, needed to fashion a TV advertisement out of Mitt Romney’s instantly infamous condemnation of nearly half the country as government-dependent “victims.” The spot, unveiled on Wednesday morning and running in six battleground states, offers the Republican presidential nominee’s secretly recorded remarks as proof that he’s hostile to the middle class.
The group has been hammering at Romney’s purported indifference to that share of the electorate since May. So, the secretly recorded video made public this week isn’t new ground so much as a perfect chance for Priorities USA to repackage an old message, like a play that changes scenery for the second act.
If many voters perceive Romney as out of touch, it’s due in no small part to the successful script that this group has written. That political environment, fostered and fueled by Priorities USA, gives its latest ad and argument extra resonance.
Mocked much of this campaign as an underfunded cousin to a wave of flush conservative counterparts like American Crossroads, Priorities USA has had an outsized impact on the presidential race. If the Obama campaign has waged a war of attrition against Romney, Priorities USA has been responsible for an array of tactical strikes key to defining him in negative ways—largely before the GOP nominee and his army of super PACs bothered to draw a positive picture of him.
The pro-Obama group’s success is a reminder that, in the Citizens United era of big-money outside groups, a large bank account doesn’t guarantee the greatest political impact. Strategy, and the content and creativity of the ads, still matter.
Priorities USA has a “laser-guided” approach to pummeling the Republican challenger, says cofounder Bill Burton, a former White House spokesman. “Every single ad we’ve run is about how Mitt Romney would harm the middle class,” he says. “Whether it’s showing his record, his business experience, or his policy prescriptions.”
The group’s ability to define Romney is most evident in Ohio, a particularly critical swing state this year. Priorities USA, which by mid-September had spent more than $6 million on advertising in the Buckeye State, began an ad barrage in May that assailed Romney’s career at Bain Capital. The theme was consistent: Bain closed down businesses that supported middle-class jobs and reaped a profit from the misery. “He’ll give you the same thing he gave us—nothing,” said one man, who had worked at a steel company shut down by Bain, in a Priorities USA ad.
The message was aimed squarely at blue-collar voters, a pivotal constituency. And it seems to have taken hold: An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll in early September found the president leading by 7 percentage points in Ohio, one of a plethora of such surveys that show Obama over-performing in the state relative to his national standing. For perspective, he won the state by only 5 points in 2008.
The battleground state is “trending” toward Obama, according to Jon Husted, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, because voters have bought his depiction of Romney, thanks in part to ads from his campaign and from Priorities USA, particularly the ones run early in the race. “There was definitely this early effort to define him,” Husted said. “They used Bain and taxes to really … define Mitt Romney as elitist and out of touch.”
The group’s own data tell the tale of the tape: A July memo from Priorities USA contended that in media markets where its ads ran, 40 percent of voters said that Romney’s business background made them less likely to support him. In demographically similar markets where its ads didn’t run, that number dropped to 34 percent.
The impact of Priorities USA shouldn’t be overstated. Its ads have been successful in states such as Ohio, but the $6 million it spent there is still dwarfed by the nearly $38 million that Obama’s campaign has invested and the $17 million that Team Romney has unleashed. Overall, according to a tally by NBC News, Priorities USA has spent about half of what the combined American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS sister organizations have poured into the race. The group also suffered embarrassment this summer when an ad it produced erroneously tied Bain to a woman’s death from cancer; the spot was widely condemned and ultimately withdrawn before it aired on television.
The principal dilemma for Priorities USA, however, is whether it can stay effective in the race’s final weeks. Groups such as American Crossroads are expected to have far more money for TV ads at a time when the airwaves will be cluttered with political messages. Spots that voters noticed a few months ago may be outmatched by the blunt force of ads that have the benefit of being run far more frequently.
Still, it’s possible those ads could come too late; Priorities USA’s initial barrage came when perceptions of Romney were much squishier. Those views have hardened in the four months since. Changing them will be difficult.
But if Romney stages a comeback, he’ll largely be able to credit the financial advantages of his campaign and the outside organizations allied with him. And Priorities USA will again look like the 98-pound weakling that was unable to help an incumbent win reelection. As anyone in the ad game can tell you, images can be fleeting.
By ERIC LIPTON and CLIFFORD KRAUSS
WASHINGTON — When Barack Obama first ran for president, being g reen was so popular that oil companies like Chevron were boasting about their commitment to renewable energy, and his Republican opponent, John McCain, supported action on global warming.
As Mr. Obama seeks re-election, that world is a distant memory. Some of the mightiest players in the oil, gas and coal industries are financing an aggressive effort to defeat him, or at least press him to adopt policies that are friendlier to fossil fuels. And the president’s former allies in promoting wind and solar power and caps on greenhouse gases? They are disenchanted and sitting on their wallets.
This year’s campaign on behalf of fossil fuels includes a surge in political contributions to Mitt Romney, attack ads questioning Mr. Obama’s clean-energy agenda, and television spots that are not overtly partisan but criticize administration actions like new air pollution rules and the delay of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.
“Since Obama became president, gas prices have nearly doubled,” said one advertisement by the American Energy Alliance, a group financed in part by oil executives. “Tell Obama we can’t afford his failing energy policies.”
With nearly two months before Election Day on Nov. 6, estimated spending on television ads promoting coal and more oil and gas drilling or criticizing clean energy has exceeded $153 million this year, according to an analysis by The New York Times of 138 ads on energy issues broadcast this year by the presidential campaigns, political parties, energy companies, trade associations and third-party spenders.
That tally is nearly four times the $41 million spent by clean-energy advocates, the Obama campaign and Democratic groups to defend the president’s energy record or raise concerns about global warming and air pollution. The Times rated presidential campaign and national policy ads by whether they promoted fossil fuels or pushed clean energy and conservation, regardless of their sponsors, using ad and spending data compiled by Kantar Media, a company that tracks television advertising.
The lopsided nature of the energy messages this year contrasts sharply with 2008. Back then, global warming was a top public concern, and green ads greatly outnumbered those for fossil fuels, $152 million to $109 million, according to the analysis by The Times, which looked at 184 energy-related ads. In 2008, Chevron, one of the nation’s leading oil companies, trumpeted its investments in geothermal power, and Mr. McCain spent millions of dollars on ads featuring solar panels and wind farms as part of a solution to global warming.
But climate change legislation died in Congress, Republicans gained a majority in the House, and pocketbook issues like the price of gasoline began dominating public discussion. After imposing a yearlong oil and gas drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico in response to the disastrous BP spill in 2010, President Obama recast himself as favoring an “all of the above” energy strategy, allowing the industry to drill offshore as deep as ever and moving to open up new regions like Alaska’s Arctic waters.
The shift left many fossil fuel critics disillusioned and unwilling to do much to support the president. “It’s hard to think of any environmental activist who is enthused about anything Obama does these days,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity, which challenges the industry on drilling plans. “Obama’s explicit embrace of fossil fuels and implicit embrace of all the environmental degradation that entails are almost indistinguishable from the policies of the Bush administration.”
Mr. Obama’s policy decisions on the Keystone pipeline and clean air rules did not win him friends in the fossil fuel world, either. Many of the industry’s titans are going all out to elect Mr. Romney, who has promised to open up more land and coastline to oil and gas drilling, end wind and solar power subsidies and curb regulations that discourage burning coal for electricity.
“The stakes are high,” said Steve Miller, the recently retired president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which has spent about $12 million on pro-coal television ads, according to the Kantar data. “Our goal is to assure that whoever is elected will have seen a groundswell for coal in swing states.”
The Times analysis shows that ads with energy themes have played an outsized role in the 2012 campaign season, with energy earning more frequent mentions than every other issue except jobs and the economy.
Energy first emerged as a major advertising topic during the last presidential election. Back then, one of the biggest spenders was the Alliance for Climate Protection, an environmental group backed by former Vice President Al Gore that spent an estimated $32 million on ads urging legislation to combat global warming.
This year, the alliance, now called the Climate Reality Project, is not buying television ads at all, focusing instead on social media, training and organizing. “Whatever we would spend, it would just be washed away in this sea of fossil fuel money,” said Maggie L. Fox, the group’s chief executive.
Other clean-energy players, particularly from the solar industry, are also keeping a low profile after Solyndra, a California solar module manufacturer that received half a billion dollars in federal loans, declared bankruptcy and became a favorite Republican target.
Certain environmental groups, like the Sierra Club, are still running their own television commercials this year in support of Mr. Obama’s policies. And the wind industry is on a campaign to win renewal of a major tax credit. But “we are being outgunned by orders of magnitude,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “There is just no way we can compete with some of the richest companies in the history of the world.”
The American Petroleum Institute, backed by the nation’s largest oil and gas companies, is the top energy spender this year with its “I’m an energy voter” campaign. Although the ads avoid explicitly endorsing any candidate, they clearly echo policy stands taken by Mr. Romney and the Republicans: opposing regulations that might slow down drilling and denouncing Mr. Obama’s proposal to eliminate oil industry subsidies.
“New energy taxes could hurt drivers and families,” one ad says. “Better to produce more energy here, like oil and natural gas. That will help the economy. That’s good for everyone.”
The petroleum institute has spent an estimated $37 million so far on television ads, according to the Kantar data, more than it spent in all of 2008. And it is just one of nearly two dozen groups — including Americans for Prosperity, backed by the oil billionaire David H. Koch, and Crossroads GPS — that are running advertisements this year advocating more fossil-fuel production or condemning spending by the Obama administration on solar and wind projects.
“These are companies and industries that clearly feel threatened,” said Ken Goldstein, president of Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. “And when companies and industries with resources feel threatened, they air advertisements.”
The fossil fuel industries have also used more subtle tactics, like mobilizing miners to wear pro-coal hats and shirts at candidate events and placing a coal industry logo on the cars for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Nascar team.
Their trade associations have targeted swing states like Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and Pennsylvania, where there are established operations like coal mines or fast-growing new efforts, like fields where natural gas is extracted through hydraulic fracturing, a technique that could face new restrictions from regulators.
“President Obama has placed a de facto embargo on energy production on American lands and shores,” said Benjamin Cole, a spokesman for the American Energy Alliance, which expects to spend $7 million on television ads and other media to defeat Mr. Obama. “It’s irresponsible and overzealous.”
The imbalance in spending shows up on the campaign finance side as well.
Mr. Romney, the Republican National Committee and Mr. Romney’s political action committee have taken in at least $13 million in campaign contributions from oil, gas and coal industry executives or their related groups.
By comparison, Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee have received less than $950,000 from the fossil fuel industry over the past two years, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. The clean-energy industry has hardly made up the difference, with Mr. Obama directly collecting only about $78,000 from it so far, according to the center’s data.
The surge in energy-related political spending partly reflects the rise in overall election spending after the Supreme Court lifted limits on corporate contributions in 2010. Mr. Romney, for example, has accepted $3 million in contributions from Oxbow, a coal company controlled by William Koch, a brother of David Koch.
At a $50,000-a-plate shrimp-and-steak lunch in Houston last month, Mr. Romney solicited advice on energy policy from scores of oil and gas executives.
The group — which included Rex W. Tillerson, chief executive of Exxon Mobil, and Harold G. Hamm of Continental Resources, a top adviser to the Romney campaign — told Mr. Romney that the best thing he could do would be to reduce the regulatory burdens on the industry and permit more drilling on federal lands.
“There is a lot more at stake now,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, associate director of the Rice University energy program. “The producers can drill a lot in the United States or they could lose the right to drill in the United States. It’s a campaign about the E.P.A., how the president responds to a major accident, and it’s about do we or don’t we lease on federal lands.”
Eric Lipton reported from Washington, and Clifford Krauss from Houston.
On ABC's 'This Week' with George Stephanopolous, longtime Democratic strategist James Carville noted that Democratic SuperPACs have 'driven the debate' more than Republican SuperPACs, despite being out-gunned in the money race.
New York Times Magazine: Can the Democrats Catch Up in the Super-PAC Game?
By ROBERT DRAPER
Sunday, July 7, 2012
One day in April, Paul Begala, a former Bill Clinton political strategist and CNN analyst, placed a phone call to a wealthy and left-leaning 41-year-old Houston lawyer named Steve Mostyn. Begala is himself a Texan, albeit one who gives off the jittery vibe of a Catskills comedian, and the two men have a few friends in common. But Mostyn, a frequent giver to Democratic causes, quickly intuited that this wasn’t a social call. Begala reminded Mostyn that he was now working as a consultant for Priorities USA Action, a so-called super PAC run by Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, former White House senior staff members, that was committed to Barack Obama’s re-election. He and Burton would be coming to Houston on Friday, April 13, Begala said. Could they arrange for a meeting?
“I’ll be in Fort Lauderdale that day on my boat,” Mostyn replied. “You’re welcome to join me there.”
The invitation was not thoroughly sincere, evidenced by the fact that Mostyn did not inform Begala where his boat would be docked. Nonetheless, at noon sharp on Friday the 13th, Begala (who is prone to seasickness) and Burton (who had taken a red-eye flight from San Francisco, where he spent the previous afternoon giving his pitch to wealthy progressives at the Telegraph Hill home of the Taco Bell heir Rob McKay), materialized at the correct Fort Lauderdale marina, each wearing jeans and bearing iPads.
For the uninitiated, “boat” is Texan for “yacht.” Burton and Begala climbed aboard the outsize Mostyn vessel, All or Nothing, and the attractive first mate handed them cans of Michelob Ultra. A four-hour conversation ensued. Mostyn and his wife, Amber (who is also an attorney), were congenial but blunt. They were not fans of super PACs — political action committees that can receive unlimited donations from individuals, corporations and unions, usually for the purpose of saturating the airwaves with attack ads — and were appalled by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, which made such entities possible. For that matter, the Mostyns weren’t entirely happy with Obama. The president had been far too accommodating to Republicans — “naïve,” as Amber Mostyn expressed it.
“We hear that a lot,” Burton conceded. Burton was a White House deputy press secretary under Obama, and at age 34, he has spent his career as a happy warrior spewing Democratic messages from behind a lectern or on cable TV. But a big part of his new role involves shutting up and listening to rich Democrats vent about his former boss’s deficiencies. Gently he reminded his hosts, “But things will only be worse if he’s not re-elected.”
The Mostyns acknowledged not wanting to see Mitt Romney in the Oval Office. Still, they wondered how any donation could possibly make a difference. “They’re spending ridiculous amounts of money on the other side,” Amber Mostyn said. “All the crazy commercials they’re going to put up — how do you combat that?”
Burton was ready for this question. “You don’t do it dollar for dollar,” he said. He whipped out his iPad and showed the Mostyns a few slides from his PowerPoint presentation. The slides included polling data indicating voters’ lack of familiarity with Romney’s business record at the private-equity firm Bain Capital, as well as financial figures from the 2010 midterm election showing how well-spent donations could help a Democrat prevail over a better-financed Republican opponent.
Then Burton pulled up something else on his screen: raw video footage that Priorities intended to use for attack ads against Romney. Appearing were the somber images of several men and women who were laid off by Bain. The individuals were tracked down by Brennan Bilberry, the super PAC’s 26-year-old research director, and persuaded to tell their stories on camera. One of these was a middle-aged paper-mill worker named Mike Earnest, who had been asked to help build a 30-foot stage that Bain officials would later stand upon while announcing to Earnest and other millworkers that they were being laid off. “Turns out that when we built that stage,” Earnest said in a flat Midwestern cadence, “it was like building my own coffin.”
Steve Mostyn was impressed by their research. He asked them what sort of donation they were talking about.
“One million dollars,” was the reply. The Mostyns had never given anywhere near that kind of money to a candidate in the past.
“And we’d like it right away,” Burton said. He explained that TV ad rates were cheaper to buy far in advance.
Defining the opponent early was crucial, Begala pointed out. “That’s what we did to Bob Dole in 1996,” he said. “It’s what the Bush campaign did to John Kerry in 2004.”
Burton added, “Because voters at this point don’t know much about Romney, every dollar we spend now is worth more, exponentially.”
Amber Mostyn wanted to know how they were going to re-energize a Democratic base that has been disillusioned.
That’s not our role, Burton explained. Though presidential campaigns and their supporting super PACs are forbidden to communicate with one another, a division of labor was mutually understood. It was up to the Obama campaign to be the keeper of the president’s story, Burton said. Priorities would focus on “defining” Romney, and in the process, destroying him. And to do that, it needed the Mostyns and many people like them to get over their distaste for the Citizens United decision and their frustration with the president and write a very large check, because that’s what was happening every day on the other side.
Burton and his best friend, Sean Sweeney, are knockaround political operatives from working-class backgrounds who had never spent a day in the genteel stratum of fund-raising before they started their super PAC 16 months ago. Their chief qualification for the job, beyond the fact that no one else wanted it, was their shared appreciation for the devastating work that well-financed outside groups can do.
Burton and Sweeney both worked for Rahm Emanuel during the 2006 midterm elections, when Emanuel was directing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s successful drive to win back the House. Unions and other outside groups played a huge role during that cycle by tarring-and-feathering Republicans as corrupt and wedded to the increasingly unpopular policies of President George W. Bush. In the spring of 2008, a Democratic PAC calling itself Progressive Media USA, whose advisers included Begala, began to raise tens of millions of dollars from big-name donors to pay for attack ads against John McCain. The intent was to keep Progressive Media in place well after the election as a magnet for deep-pocketed progressives; as one of its organizers wistfully told me, “Imagine where we’d be if we had that in place four years later.” But the Obama campaign — which was building its own fund-raising behemoth, even at the expense of the candidate’s earlier pledge to accept public financing and the spending cap that came with it — didn’t want outside interference. The campaign sent out a 30-year-old spokesman named Bill Burton to shut Progressive Media down by telling the press, “From the beginning of this race, Obama has told supporters that if they want to help his effort, they should do so through his campaign.”
Two years later, President Obama repeatedly denounced the conservative super PACs that had cropped up in the wake of the Citizens United decision. In so doing, Obama ended up unilaterally disarming Democrats while animating Republicans. “When Obama attacked us by name in the fall of 2010, accusing us of taking money from the Chinese, it was basically the best fund-raising pitch we could’ve made,” says Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for American Crossroads, the conservative super PAC conceived by Karl Rove and the Republican consultant Ed Gillespie. “We raised $13 million the week after they attacked us.” Burton and Sweeney watched from the White House — more with rueful admiration than moral outrage — as the Republicans turned the tables, outspending Democratic groups by $100 million and taking back the House.
Three months after the midterms, Burton learned that he was not chosen to succeed Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary. Gibbs had not recommended his deputy for the job (which went to Vice President Joseph Biden’s spokesman, Jay Carney) — perhaps, as some have suggested, because of Burton’s youth, or because the deputy had openly campaigned for the job after having been requested not to do so. Several in the White House, including the president, urged Burton to stay on. Whatever Gibbs and others might have found lacking in him, he had proved himself to be an agile stand-in for the press secretary, one who seemed to relish trading punches with Fox News hosts.
Burton is one of those ever-ascending Washingtonians whose brazen optimism seems not to have been dampened in the slightest by the cynical world he inhabits. When asked how he’s doing, he routinely, and often defiantly, replies, “Best day of my life.” He has been a political spokesman his entire adult life and is married to a former Clinton White House aide, Laura Burton Capps, herself the daughter of Congresswoman Lois Capps and Congressman Walter Capps.
The son of a metal-foundry worker in Buffalo who, Burton says, “was on his feet on concrete floors all day, carrying 50-pound bags of different chemical alloys and inhaling the world’s worst pollutants,” Burton learned two things by the time he was 11. The first — which arrived as an epiphany while watching the 1988 vice-presidential debate between Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle on the family’s black-and-white TV — was that “I wanted to be in politics, and I wanted to be at the highest level.”
The second revelation was that he was black. Burton’s father was African-American and his mother was Polish. One day in elementary school he identified himself as “other” on a standardized test. “My fifth-grade teacher said, ‘No, you’re black — mark that you’re black,’ ” he told me. “I was just like, ‘Oh, I’m black.’ Just another piece of information.” With little effort, he navigated both sides of the racial divide, reserving his energies for political climbing. After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1999, he made repeated visits to the campus office of Al Gore’s presidential campaign, wearing them down until they gave him the title of deputy press secretary. At age 22, he took a job on the Hill as a Congressional aide.
But presidential politics was Burton’s goal. Leveraging every Washington contact he had, Burton persuaded Senator Tom Harkin (who campaigned for the presidency in 1992) to hire him as his press secretary. When Harkin elected to stay out of the 2004 race, Burton jumped ship and became Dick Gephardt’s communications director in Iowa. When Gephardt faltered, the gabby and incessant Burton joined the Kerry campaign.
In late 2006, Burton managed to network his way into a job interview with Senator Barack Obama, whose famous speech at the 2004 Democratic convention Burton watched “over and over, the way some kids have seen ‘Star Wars’ a hundred times,” he told me. The two men spoke only briefly of their shared biracial experience. Instead, the Iowa caucuses were on the senator’s mind. Burton had experience there. He recalls suggesting that Obama shoot for “a respectable third place, maybe an unlikely second.” Obama disagreed. He assured Burton that he would win Iowa. Soon after, Burton became one of the earliest senior staff members to join Obama’s underdog campaign.
Though his ambitions eventually met a brick wall with the news that he would not be the White House’s top spokesman, Burton was not going to let a bruised ego befoul relationships that he spent years cultivating. As the deputy press secretary was leaving the building in February of last year, it happened that his pal Sean Sweeney — who had been the top aide to Rahm Emanuel, until Emanuel decided to run for mayor of Chicago — was also in search of a new career. Sweeney is 40, dry-witted and a career backstage political technician, more than content to cede the limelight to the Burtons and Emanuels while immersing himself in the minutiae of precinct voting data and efficient ad markets. The two ex-Obamaites spent the month of February at Tunnicliff’s Tavern on Capitol Hill and halfheartedly mulled over opening a consulting shop together. But Burton had not lost his appetite for presidential politics.
Sweeney and Burton kicked around the idea of starting a pro-Obama super PAC with fellow Democrats. None of them fretted aloud that going toe to toe with Karl Rove and the Koch brothers would amount to fighting above their weight — that, as one conservative super PAC affiliate would say to me, “the more appropriate analog to Rove and Gillespie would be James Carville and Ed Rendell,” the former Pennsylvania governor. But if the chief function of a super PAC is to kneecap an opponent, the two campaign veterans seemed to have ample experience. That their profiles were relatively obscure, their financial resources meager and their fund-raising experience nonexistent did not apparently deter them.
Because they lacked the money for an office (and because, as Burton told me, “it’s a little too obvious to meet at Starbucks”), Burton and Sweeney took all of their early meetings in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel. Begala was the first to sign on as a paid consultant; Terry McAuliffe, the former D.N.C. chairman, was the first to say no, citing other commitments. Teddy Johnston, the Obama campaign’s Florida finance director, became their chief fund-raiser. Sweeney knew Geoff Garin, a Democratic consultant, from when they worked together for Senator Charles E. Schumer and persuaded him to handle their polling. Ellen Malcolm of Emily’s List and the America Coming Together PAC agreed to provide regular consultation. Harold Ickes, the former Clinton White House deputy chief of staff and Media Fund PAC president, became president of Priorities USA Action. He recalls warning them: “It’s hard, fund-raising. You have to raise it in big chunks. Of the $200 million we raised, $95 million of that came from five sources. And you don’t just walk in and ask for that.”
It took several weeks for Burton and Sweeney to come up with a name for their start-up. To their irritation, every slogan they considered had already been trademarked by Republicans. “We gave our lawyer 10 more names,” Burton recalls. “Then like 50. We’re literally trying every combination of whatever. You can’t come up with a name that has the word ‘future’ in it that the Republicans don’t control. Romney’s Restore Our Future — that doesn’t even make sense, and that’s probably why they were able to get it.”
Eventually they settled on Priorities USA Action. As a backhanded homage to Karl Rove, Burton and Sweeney explicitly modeled the two-headed corpus of their brainchild after American Crossroads. One side would consist of a tax-exempt political action committee covered by section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, to which named individuals and groups could donate in unlimited amounts. Its companion entity, Priorities USA, permissible under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, could, like its counterpart Crossroads GPS, receive unlimited funds by undisclosed donors, provided that the “social welfare” organization did not pursue political activities as its “primary purpose.” (The two phrases in quotation marks are, needless to say, hazily defined. “Priorities USA, like Crossroads GPS, has one purpose, and that’s to elect and defeat candidates,” says Fred Wertheimer of the campaign watchdog group Democracy 21. “They’re blowing smoke when they claim they’re a ‘social welfare’ organization in the business of discussing issues.”)
There was, however, one fundamental difference between Priorities and its conservative counterparts. According to Politico, Rove’s organization had vowed to raise $300 million for the 2012 election — which, when coupled with Restore Our Future ($100 million) and the outside groups of oil and chemical billionaires Charles and David Koch ($400 million), would amount to an $800 million war chest. Burton and Sweeney’s stated goal was $100 million.
Having conceded the arms race before it even began, the Priorities team recognized that its only hope lay in asymmetrical warfare. Making a virtue of their relative puniness, Begala told me: “Karl’s trying to be too comprehensive, playing in too many places on too many levels. He believes in throw-weight, the way the Soviet space program worked: they believed in brute force, while we believed in precision and perfection.” Priorities would be selective in its ad buys. Knowing that Obama had to keep Pennsylvania in the win column, it would reach for undecided voters in the Pittsburgh exurbs instead of playing in the expensive Philadelphia market. Similarly, Priorities would not bother trying to persuade the elderly (a group whose low support for the president has seemed immovable) but would instead pursue more promising demographic targets (non-college-educated young women in the suburbs, working-class Hispanics in Florida and the West). The pro-Obama super PAC would take dead aim at these very specific pockets of swing voters. Their weapon would be, in Begala’s words, “ruthless, relentless storytelling.”
Last December — specifically, on Pearl Harbor Day — Burton and Sweeney met with a few other Priorities advisers in the Dupont Circle office of the pollster Geoff Garin to decide just what their Romney story would be. They quickly discarded the Romney-as-flip-flopper leitmotif. To say that the Republican lacked a firm set of positions was to concede that he couldn’t be defined. Better, they concluded, to assert that Romney in fact possessed beliefs — very extreme ones.
Burton and his colleagues spent the early months of 2012 trying out the pitch that Romney was the most far-right presidential candidate since Barry Goldwater. It fell flat. The public did not view Romney as an extremist. For example, when Priorities informed a focus group that Romney supported the Ryan budget plan — and thus championed “ending Medicare as we know it” — while also advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing. What became clear was that voters had almost no sense of Obama’s opponent. While conducting a different focus group — this one with non-college-educated Milwaukee voters on the eve of Wisconsin’s April 3 primary — Burton and Sweeney were surprised to learn that even after Romney had spent months campaigning, many in the group could not recognize his face, much less characterize his positions. Compounding the Republican nominee’s strangely persistent obscurity is that, as Garin told me, “Romney is not a natural politician in the sense of embracing opportunities to talk about himself.”
That left an opening for the Democrats to tell Romney’s story, and over the spring they figured out how to do so. Obama’s opponent was not an ideologue per se, the Priorities team decided, but instead someone who knows and cares only about wealthy Americans. Burton describes the distinction as “a top/bottom rather than left/right approach” — also known in Republican circles as class warfare.
The best explanatory tool for this narrative would prove to be Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital. In this recasting of Romney’s self-described chief qualification to be president, the candidate may well be someone who understands how the economy works but cares only about making it work for rich guys like himself. As one participant in the Priorities focus groups told me, “Businessmen are often highly admired, but there’s no real template for somebody with Mitt Romney’s type of business experience getting embraced.”
Bain-bashing is not exactly a novel gambit. Ted Kennedy employed it during Romney’s first campaign, the 1994 U.S. Senate race, and succeeded wildly. Newt Gingrich also tried it during this year’s Republican primaries, and the tactic blew up in his face, when a pro-Gingrich super PAC released an anti-Bain video full of inaccuracies, which Gingrich then disavowed. To the Beltway press, and perhaps to others as well, what Romney’s business did or didn’t do two decades ago is old news. Burton and Sweeney acknowledged this problem to me and postulated — sounding somewhat like Karl Rove as they did so — that the threat of having one’s steel mill shut down doesn’t resonate with the elite media.
But, they insisted, the message would penetrate the membrane of their target audience. More than one member of the Priorities team told me that Romney reminded them of another wooden and reserved Massachusetts politician, Burton’s former candidate in 2004, John Kerry — who, history shows, was defined and thereafter demolished by a masterful if venal tag-team consisting of the Bush campaign and the proto-super PAC Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And, as the Priorities team well knew, the Swift Boat assault on Kerry’s war record was waged with one-twentieth of the backing that the Democrats raised for their anti-Bush PACs. In other words: ruthless, relentless storytelling could be done on the cheap.
During the first 10 months of its existence, Priorities USA Action managed to raise only $7 million. (Of this, $2 million was seed money from Jeffrey Katzenberg, the C.E.O. of DreamWorks Animation; another $1 million came from the comedian Bill Maher.) Their travails to some degree reflect the Democratic Party’s greater struggle with its prim self-perception. From the perspective of many Democrats, this year’s foray into post-Citizens United campaigning calls to mind an “Apocalypse Now”-like journey into the maw of something darker than death itself — namely, a morality-free zone in which Republicans alone can thrive. “I think that many Democrats feel that participating in the system would be validating Citizens United, which was a bad and destructive decision,” Geoff Garin says.
A sentiment commonly held by Democrats — so much so that it’s part of the standard Priorities pitch to donors — is that their only motivation to contribute is a moral one, while Republicans like the Koch brothers donate because they stand to make gobs of money if their pro-business candidate is elected. One of Priorities’ big donors told me another reason that conservatives are more suited to a post-Citizens United climate than progressives. “To me, a lot of the super-PAC money on the Republican side comes from hatred,” he said. “We Democrats just don’t hate like that.”
The idea that Democrats abhor big money and scorched-earth campaigning requires more than a touch of amnesia. “In 2004, we had all this energy coming from the horror at what Bush was doing — we were furious,” recalls the liberal activist Ellen Malcolm, whose America Coming Together PAC benefited from millions in donations from wealthy Democrats like George Soros. “George came out of Nazi Europe and looked at this so-called war on terrorism as an all-too-familiar dynamic of governments taking control. Fear and anger are the great motivators in fund-raising. And right now Karl Rove has the fear and anger on his side.”
Lacking this sort of emotional edge, Priorities struggled against a confluence of inhospitable factors. First among those is that, as Jonathan Collegio of American Crossroads observes, “Outside money tends to flow toward the party out of power, and to causes to stop things rather than to promote things.” Burton and Sweeney had to contend with the widely held assumption that the Obama campaign was raising enough money on its own anyway. “These big donors are smart — they look at the numbers,” a prominent Democratic fund-raiser told me. “They say, ‘How’s this money they want from me going to have any impact, compared to the $750 million Obama says he’s raising?’ ” It also did not help that for most of its young life, Priorities operated not only without Obama’s endorsement but also in the face of his implicit disapproval — at least until late last December, when Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, showed his fellow adviser David Axelrod the gross disparity in fund-raising between conservative and liberal groups, prompting an alarmed Axelrod to murmur, “We’ve got to show this to the president.”
Over and over, Burton and Sweeney heard Democrats express distaste for super PACs, disillusionment with Obama and — during the primary season, anyway — disbelief that the president was in any danger of losing. (“It’s been difficult,” Sweeney told me in early spring, “to make the case that Romney’s a juggernaut when he’s within 2,000 votes of losing Ohio to Rick Santorum.”) As one lackluster monthly F.E.C. disclosure followed another, a new narrative rippled through Washington, and it wasn’t about Bain Capital: the Priorities team, it was suggested, was not ready for prime time.
“It’s a personal process, asking for checks of this size,” says Susan McCue, one leader of the Democratic Senate super PAC. “You need to take the time to talk about the stakes and how their support will make a difference. And you need to assure them that their money will be used efficiently.” Arguably, the skill sets of driving home a rapid-response message to a roomful of deadline-crazed journalists and charming a tycoon into parting with a million dollars could not be more different. Burton and Sweeney were novices at asking for money, and apparently it showed. Upper-tier Obama associates told me that in the eyes of donors, Burton and Sweeney lacked Rove’s stature and Begala’s natural salesman’s touch. In April, after an attack ad by American Crossroads compelled the Obama campaign to respond by spending its own money for additional TV time — knowing that Priorities lacked the money to do so — a clearly annoyed official told me, “If we had a Karl Rove of our own out there, we wouldn’t have had to do this.”
As the super PAC’s public face — a ubiquitous MSNBC talking head, blogger and cajoler of the Washington news media — Burton bore the brunt of the criticism. The ongoing insinuation that he was out of his depth did not outwardly jostle the spokesman’s best-day-of-my-life unsinkability. (“If you didn’t read the story and just looked at the pictures . . . I feel like I came out pretty good,” he wrote me after one particularly withering article.) Burton and Sweeney repeatedly insisted to me that what they termed the “education process” was mainly about converting super-PAC-averse Democrats rather than learning on the fly themselves.
Still, they knew they needed help. By the end of the spring, Priorities had beefed up its fund-raising team to include Diana Rogalle (from the ACT PAC), Susan Holloway Torricelli (former Senator Robert Torricelli’s ex- wife and longtime fund-raiser) and Kathleen Daughety (who was previously Senator Michael Bennet’s finance director). Mary Beth Cahill, who was Burton’s boss on the Kerry campaign, also signed on as a strategic adviser.
“Look, Sean and Bill make no bones about it: they’d been on the spending” — meaning messaging — “side, not the fund-raising side,” Harold Ickes told me. “I think they decided to do it because no one else was doing it. It was clearly necessary, and I encouraged them to do it. That said, there are techniques, and it’s an art form . . . there’s a minuet, almost. And it takes a lot of time, you bet.”
On April 14, the day after their get-together aboard the boat, Steve Mostyn called Begala to say that he would soon be wiring Priorities a million dollars. A month later — 25 weeks before the general election — Mostyn’s donation would help finance a $10 million TV blitz in the swing states of Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Each week featured a somber new anti-Romney testimonial. On May 22, it was that of Loris Huffman, who worked at the Ampad paper mill for 34 years before being laid off by Bain. On June 10, a former steel-mill employee, Donnie Box, appeared in ads.
Three days later, The Wall Street Journal reported that the conservative casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson had just pledged money to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. The amount Adelson was donating was $10 million — 10 times that of the Mostyns’ hard-won contribution, and the sum total of Priorities USA’s entire ad buy. A couple of days later, The Huffington Post reported that Adelson might also be cutting $10 million checks to American Crossroads and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. All told, the casino magnate was telling friends, his contributions to right-leaning candidates and causes might well reach $100 million — a figure by a single Republican donor that matches the amount Priorities has set as its financial goal for the entire 2012 cycle.
After Burton read the story about Adelson’s contribution to the Romney super PAC, he could think of only one thing to do. “I sent that article out to every single Democratic donor that I know,” he would later recall. The subject heading of Burton’s e-mail — minus a profane verb — was: “So apparently they’re not messing around.”
But in late May and early June, it wasn’t Sheldon Adelson who was drowning out the Priorities ads. Rather, the Obama campaign was inadvertently doing so. Apparently the campaign did not know or did not care about Priorities USA Action’s planned mini-blitz, for it released its own two-minute attack video focusing on Bain’s closure of GST Steel, which concluded with, “I’m Barack Obama, and I approved this message.”
Reaction to the ad was swift and overwhelmingly negative. A procession of Democrats — starting with the Newark mayor and Obama surrogate Cory Booker, followed by former Congressman Harold Ford Jr., the former U.S. Treasury adviser Steven Rattner and former Governor Ed Rendell — publicly criticized the president for speaking so harshly of private-equity firms.
Burton and Sweeney waited out the chatter. They knew that Booker and the rest had deep associations with the financial sector. They also believed in their polling data — which would be validated in early June by focus groups of suburban mothers conducted in Richmond, Va., and Las Vegas, and also by an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll showing that voters were twice as likely to have a negative opinion of Bain’s practices. Besides, beneath all the bluster coming from Obama’s fellow Democrats lurked a basic political verity: the leader of the free world is widely seen as having better things to do with his time than trash Mitt Romney’s past business life. It was beneath him. But it was hardly beneath Obama’s friends residing in the shadows of super PAC world. Quite the opposite: this was exactly what Priorities was set up to do.
Burton and Sweeney’s creation now appears to be on relatively solid footing. As of late June, the super PAC has amassed a total of $40 million, with almost $20 million in the bank and about a dozen million-dollar donors onboard. Among the most recent is Qualcomm’s co-founder Irwin M. Jacobs and his wife, Joan, newcomers to the world of political mega-giving, whom Burton and other Priorities surrogates spent a year courting in person, on the phone and by e-mail before the couple relented and gave $2 million. Priorities’ $100 million goal is within reach but by no means assured. “In order to do that,” Ickes says, “we’re going to have go get some $5 million and $10 million donors.” Another Priorities representative says wistfully: “Maybe there’s someone we never heard of. Is there a Charles Koch out there on our side?”
On June 21, Burton returned to Buffalo to deliver the commencement address at City Honors School, from which he graduated in 1995. “While men and women are remembered for how they succeed,” the former White House spokesman told his young audience, “they are defined by how they fail. And by how they come back.” Late that evening, while Burton was dining out with old high-school buddies and faculty members, a Washington Post article about Romney and Bain Capital appeared on the paper’s Web site. The story analyzed filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that showed Bain to have “owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories.”
From the restaurant, Burton e-mailed Sweeney and their team. By 10:45 p.m., they had drafted a memo that would be sent to the e-mail addresses of several hundred political reporters by 7 the next morning: “Despite his phony rhetoric on standing up for American workers, today’s Washington Post details how Mitt Romney directly profited from the outsourcing of American jobs overseas.” Soon they would be adding more Bain-related questions to their polls, seeking to add depth to their narrative, the one best shot their modestly financed super PAC had at persuading swing voters and thereby making a difference in a closely contested presidential election. Burton and Sweeney were doing what they do best, telling the story — though when it came down to it, getting enough people to listen would still be the hardest part.
In Spanish-Language Ad, Obama Supporters Target Romney
Wall Street Journal
By Carol E. Lee
June 11, 2012
The Service Employees International Union and the top super PAC supporting President Barack Obama are teaming up to launch a $4 million Spanish-language ad campaign targeting Mitt Romney.
The radio and TV ad buy, to be announced Monday, will begin this week and air through the summer in three swing states where the Hispanic vote will be important: Colorado, Nevada and Florida.
Mr. Romney has also been putting in place efforts to reach Hispanic voters. His campaign recently produced a Web video highlighting unemployment among Hispanic workers.
The SEIU and the super PAC backing Mr. Obama, Priorities USA Action, said the goal of the new ad is to demonstrate that the Mr. Romney has a “vision for the country that would benefit the wealthiest at the expense of Latinos and other working families.”
The ad, entitled “Mitt Romney: En Sus Propias Palabras” (Mitt Romney: In His Own Words), invokes the Republican candidate’s business career, in particular his tenure at Bain Capital.
“What about us? He’s not thinking about us,’’ a woman in the ad says of Mr. Romney, according to an English translation released by SEIU and the Obama campaign.
“He is… just thinking about those that have made money already,’’ the woman says. Soon after, words on the screen say: “Mitt Romney made millions of dollars leaving thousands of people without work.’’
Mr. Romney has said that companies fostered by Bain investments created tens of thousands of jobs. Some of Mr. Obama’s fellow Democrats have criticized the president for attacking Bain.
Priorities USA, SEIU launch $4 million Spanish-language campaign against Romney
By Felicia Sonmez
June 11, 2012
A pro-Obama super PAC is joining up with one of the country’s largest labor unions to launch a Spanish-language broadside against Mitt Romney this summer in three key battleground states.
Priorities USA Action and the Service Employees International Union on Monday unveiled their plans to launch a $4 million ad campaign against the presumptive GOP nominee in Colorado, Nevada and Florida, a trio of swing states with a Latino-heavy population.
The effort — which includes 30-second TV ads and minute-long radio ads featuring Romney’s own words in English and the reactions of viewers in Spanish — launches this week and is expected to run throughout the summer, according to a release provided by the groups to The Washington Post. It is being touted as “one of the largest-ever independent Spanish-language campaign efforts.”
“In the primary process, Mitt Romney embraced the most extreme policies in the history of the Republican party,” SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina said in a statement. “Latinos say they are insulted and angry when they watch Romney, a multi-millionaire with a couple Cadillacs, joke about his ‘unemployment’ status. When Latinos hear Romney, in his own words, they really know what’s going on and what he is saying.”
The two groups will hold a conference call at 2:30 p.m. Monday to announce the Spanish-language ad effort; speaking on the call will be Medina; Priorities USA Action senior adviser Paul Begala; SEIU Political Director Brandon Davis; and Raphael Suarez, an SEIU Local 1199 member from Kissimmee, Fla.
Polls show Romney kicking off the 2012 general election at a significant disadvantage when it comes to the Latino vote; recent Washington Post-ABC News surveys show the presumptive GOP nominee trailing Obama by as much as 44 percentage points.
Romney has worked to make up ground by releasing several Spanish-language ads of his own, but his spending thus far has been dwarfed by that of the Obama campaign, which has spent a reported $1.7 million to Romney’s $33,000.
Obama’s campaign began using Spanish-language ads on April 17 and has had a Spanish-language Web site since February. Romney’s Web site does not yet have a Spanish version.
The trio of states in which the SEIU and Priorities USA Action are airing their ads are the same states in which the Obama campaign launched its first Spanish-language ads of the cycle.
Below is the English-language script of the Florida TV ad as provided by Priorities USA Action and the SEIU:
Script for Florida television ad (English) –
(text on screen) MITT ROMNEY IN HIS OWN WORDS.
ROMNEY: You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus
VOTER 1 FEMALE: What about us? He’s not thinking about us.
VOTER 2 MALE: It’s easy for him to say that since he doesn’t have the same necessities as us.
VOTER 1 FEMALE: He is… just thinking about those that have made money already.
(text on screen) MITT ROMNEY MADE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS LEAVING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WITHOUT WORK.
ROMNEY: I’ll also tell my story: I’m also unemployed.
VOTER 2 MALE: When you are really out of work… you are worried, you don’t want to laugh or make fun of anybody.
VOTER 1 FEMALE: I feel that he should not be the person that leads this country.
(voice over) SEIU COPE is responsible for the content of this advertisement.
(text on screen) Mitt Romney: His words say it all.
The Colorado TV ad (and script):
The Nevada TV ad (and script):
The Florida radio ad:
(FLORIDA RADIO AD)
And the Nevada and Colorado radio ads:
(NEVADA AND COLORADO RADIO ADS)
Pro-Obama super-PAC, SEIU launch $4M ad blitz targeting Latinos
By Justin Sink
June 11, 2012
A prominent super-PAC supporting President Obama's re-election effort is joining with one of the nation's largest union organizations to launch a new $4 million Spanish-language ad attacking presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
The commercial, which will air on television and radio in Colorado, Nevada, and Florida, pounces on gaffes from Mitt Romney's primary campaign to argue that the Republican nominee is not sympathetic to the concerns of Hispanic voters. The campaign is being jointly run by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Priorities USA, the super-PAC run by ex-White House official Bill Burton.
"This ad is part of a broader effort to ensure Latino voters know the stakes in this election and who has been on the side of Latino Families and who will continue to stand with them in the coming years,” said SEIU National Political Director Brandon Davis in a statement. “The contrast could not be more clear."
In the television version of the ad, excerpts of Romney joking about being unemployed and saying he is not focused on the very poor elicit reactions from Latino voters.
"It’s easy for him to say that since he doesn’t have the same necessities as us," says a Latino man in Spanish. "When you are really out of work, you are worried, you don’t want to laugh or make fun of anybody.
"In the primary process, Mitt Romney embraced the most extreme policies in the history of the Republican party. Latinos say they are insulted and angry when they watch Romney, a multi-millionaire with a couple Cadillacs, joke about his 'unemployment' status," said Eliseo Medina, SEIU secretary-treasurer in a statement. "When Latinos hear Romney, in his own words, they really know what’s going on and what he is saying. They know what he means. And what it would mean for their families if he were to be elected president.”
The ad comes as Democrats work to solidify their lead with Hispanic voters, the fastest growing demographic in the American electorate. In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released late last month, 61 percent of Hispanic voters said they would vote for Obama, while just 27 percent backed Romney. More Hispanic voters see Romney more negatively than positively, and only 22 percent say they view the Republican Party in a positive light.
But Romney has intensified efforts to woo Hispanic voters, releasing web videos and commercials in English and Spanish last week critical of President Obama's jobs record for Hispanic voters. Romney also campaigned at an office-supply business owned by a pair of Mexican-American brothers Tuesday in Fort Worth, Texas.
“This Obama economy has been hard particularly on Hispanic businesses and Hispanic businessmen,” Romney said, noting that a third of those living in poverty were Hispanic. “I can tell you if I’m the next president of the United States, I’ll be the president for all Americans and make sure this economy is good for all Americans, Hispanic and otherwise.”
Pro-Obama Ads Target Hispanics in Swing States
New York Times
By MICHAEL SHEAR
June 11, 2012
Priorities USA Action, a “super PAC” backing President Obama, is starting a $4 million ad campaign aimed at Hispanic voters in three swing states, the group plans to announce Monday morning.
The ads — to run in Colorado, Florida and Nevada throughout the summer — accuse Mr. Romney of not worrying about Hispanic families who are unemployed and workers who don’t have much money.
The ads are being produced in cooperation with the Service Employees International Union and use Mr. Romney’s own words as evidence of what the groups call his “devastating policies” for Hispanic families.
“You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus,” Mr. Romney says in the ad. The comment is part of an interview Mr. Romney gave during the primary campaign.
Several Hispanic workers react to his comments.
Speaking in Spanish, one says: “What about us? He’s not thinking about us.”
Another says: “It’s easy for him to say that since he doesn’t have the same necessities as us.”
And a third says “He is just thinking about those that have made money already.”
Priorities USA Action and S.E.I.U. have focused on three states both campaigns have said they are eager to win. And all three states have growing Hispanic populations.
As The Times reported on Sunday, Hispanic voters are more likely than other minorities to stay home on Election Day, prompting concern among Democrats that their influence on the campaign will be muted.
Officials with S.E.I.U said the ads are an attempt to change that dynamic.
“This ad is part of a broader effort to ensure Latino voters know the stakes in this election and who has been on the side of Latino Families and who will continue to stand with them in the coming years,” said Brandon Davis, the group’s national political director.
Featured on NBC's TODAY Monday, June 11