The Republican National Committee over the weekend reported spending another $3.8 million on independent expenditure television advertising to bolster Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, bringing its total to more than $17 million in less than a month.
Though hardly eyebrow raising compared with the investments of various pro-Romney and Republican-leaning super PACs, it is notable that the RNC chose to go on the air in July with significant buys to help counter President Barack Obama’s swing-state tsunami of television spots. The RNC tends to focus it resources on state party building and voter-turnout operations while leaving the air-war to the GOP nominee’s campaign.
But with Romney unable to access the bulk of the money he has been raising since April until he is officially nominated in Tampa, Fla., later this month, sources say the RNC was compelled to help fill the void. The committee also has begun to spend its allotment of coordinated funds to attack Obama and boost Romney’s pitch to voters on television.
“The fundraising success of the RNC under Chairman [Reince] Priebus has allowed us the ability to expand from funding the army on the ground to being able to supplement that effort with a strong ad campaign to support our nominee,” committee spokesman Sean Spicer said.
According to a GOP source that tracks political television advertising, the RNC was on-air, or had, as of last week, reserved time in the key media markets of eight battleground states. That list included the Colorado Springs, Denver and Grand Junction markets in Colorado; the Las Vegas and Reno markets in Nevada; and the Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee markets in Wisconsin.
Also included in the RNC’s advertising blitz is Iowa, including the Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines and Sioux City markets, as well as Omaha, Neb., which covers western Iowa; New Hampshire, including Manchester, Boston, Mass., Burlington, Vt., and Portland, Maine; North Carolina, including Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Wilmington and Greenville, S.C.; Ohio, including Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Lima, Toledo, Youngstown, Zanesville and Huntington, W.V.; and Virginia, including Charlottesville, Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke, the Tri-Cities and Washington, D.C.
At least one Republican strategist questioned the RNC's decision to spend significant resources on this television ad campaign. Though not excessively critical of the decision, this operative emphasized that the RNC's main focus should be on ground-game organization. This past weekend, the RNC held several volunteer organizing events in a dozen targeted states as a part of its voter-turnout operation.
"I would argue that it's their job to significantly supplement the presidential campaigns ground game," the Republican strategist said.