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Updated: 4:41 p.m.
Republicans and their allies are laughing off the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s latest round of ad buys as “minuscule” and “irrelevant” after discovering the cost of the effort was less than $6,000.
“At what point does a campaign committee blush when launching a ‘paid advertising campaign?’” asked Jonathan Collegio, spokesman for the outside conservative group American Crossroads.
The DCCC announced earlier Tuesday the launch of a “paid advertising and grass-roots campaign” to hold 25 vulnerable incumbents accountable for their recent budget-cutting votes to cut billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid. The debt-laden campaign committee is using phone calls, emails and online advertising to supplement the modest buys.
For example, in Minnesota’s 8th district, the DCCC radio ad asks, “Did you know Congressman Chip Cravaack voted to end Medicare forcing seniors to pay $12,500 for private health insurance without guaranteed coverage? Tell Cravaack to keep his hands off our Medicare.”
But the overall cost of the multi-state effort — which was part of its “Drive to 25” program to flip 25 seats and reclaim the House majority — was unknown until Tuesday afternoon.
That’s when Crossroads and the National Republican Congressional Committee had its media trackers verify the size of the radio buys, which are publicly available at each media entity involved. They found that the DCCC spent just $5,968 across the 25 districts. The 15-second radio ads ranged in cost from $40 (to target Rep. Larry Bucshon in Indiana’s 8th district) to $900 (criticizing Rep. David Rivera in Florida’s 25th).
“For the DCCC’s next major initiative, we hear they plan to hand out balloons and refrigerator magnets in northwestern Pennsylvania,” joked Collegio. “Recipients have to supply their own helium, though, and are expected to contribute $25 for the experience.”
The DCCC fired back at Crossroads, which doesn’t disclose the source of its funding and is led by Karl Rove, a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
“While Karl Rove’s Crossroads comes to the defense of taxpayer giveaways for their Big Oil funders at the expense of Medicare for seniors, we don’t take shady secret money, so we invest wisely in targeted districts,” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said. “The initial buy of 15-second radio ads in 25 districts has been placed. Stay tuned for more to come.”
In the statement announcing the new campaign earlier in the day, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) offered this comment on the GOP’s latest budget vote, which came late last week.
“This is a defining moment for House Republicans: they chose to end Medicare rather than end taxpayer giveaways for Big Oil or tax breaks for the ultra rich. We will go district by district to hold Republicans accountable for the wrong choice they made,” Israel said. “Seniors who pay a lifetime into Medicare deserve the benefits they’ve earned. Under the Republican plan, if you make over a million dollars, you win the lottery. If you’re a senior, you lose your Medicare. That’s not right.”