“Congressman Franks, don’t be a wiener!” That’s DC Vote’s idea of an “aggressive, but funny” ad campaign aimed at Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who has introduced legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks in the District of Columbia.
Ads on Google and Facebook targeting Franks’ district, as well as in the alternative newspaper Phoenix New Times, will run for the next few weeks featuring Franks dressed as a hot dog, giving two thumbs up and wearing an “I Heart D.C.” baseball cap.
“Stay out of D.C.’s laws and focus on Arizona,” the ads read.
DC Vote is also calling on supporters to inundate Franks’ district and Washington offices with phone calls and emails, demanding that he withdraw a bill that the group says would infringe on D.C.’s ability to manage its own affairs.
Franks, a five-term incumbent and chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, was nonplussed by the commotion.
He said he hadn’t seen the ads yet but was not concerned.
“My district is well-acquainted with my commitment to protecting innocent human life,” Franks said.
It was DC Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka who described the new media campaign, which kicks off with a protest today at Franks’ Glendale, Ariz., office, as “aggressive, but funny.” DC Vote Communications Director James Jones and Arizona residents will gather there, while a handful of volunteers will stand outside the Capitol to hand out fliers letting people know about the event and the issue.
Zherka said he wants the fight against Franks’ bill to be seen as an issue of D.C. autonomy, not of abortion rights, but he’s willing to take help wherever he can get it.
He acknowledged that many of the protesters expected to show up in Glendale are supporters of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women, and that the recent uproar about the Obama administration’s contraception mandate could help give the issue leverage.
“Our protest isn’t about abortion,” Zherka said, “but this is coming at a good time.”
For Franks, it is about abortion.
Legislation similar to Franks’ bill, which would make it illegal for doctors to perform abortions after 20 weeks — the point at which some medical experts say a fetus begins to feel pain — has been enacted in Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma and Alabama.
Given this momentum, and because of Congress’ unique jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, Franks and others hope to score another win here, although a Democratic Senate and President Barack Obama might make that all but impossible in 2012.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate, and the influential National Right to Life Committee has called passage of the bills its No. 1 legislative priority in 2012.
“The Constitution gives the Congress absolute authority within the District of Columbia on any legislative issues whatsoever,” Franks told Roll Call on Wednesday.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.