A political group affiliated with former top Republican Party officials is airing TV ads in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and California targeting Democratic U.S. Senate candidates for supporting what the group disparagingly calls "ObamaCare."
The more than $2 million in ads by Washington-based Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies criticize Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and Pennsylvania Senate candidate Joe Sestak for voting for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. It also chides Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway, the state's attorney general, for refusing to join 13 other attorneys general who are challenging key provisions in the law.
The wave of advertising represents an early display of firepower by the group, a sister organization to American Crossroads, whose advisers include Republican masterminds Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. It has already spent more than $3 million airing ads against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan in Missouri, and for Republican Rob Portman in Ohio.
The ads attack Boxer and Sestak, a Pennsylvania congressman, for voting in favor of the health care bill, specifically criticizing them for a provision in the legislation that slices Medicate spending. The law calls for cuts of about $500 billion over 10 years from projected payment increases to hospitals, insurance companies and others under Medicare and other government health programs. Benefits guaranteed under traditional Medicare were not cut.
Conway is not a member of Congress, but as attorney general he did not participate in a lawsuit filed by other attorneys general arguing the law exceeds the powers of Congress.
"When Jack Conway had to choose between Obama's agenda and defending Kentucky, he chose Obama — and our new issue ad points that out," said Steven Law, director of the Crossroads group.
Conway faces Republican Rand Paul in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jim Bunning. Conway spokeswoman Allison Haley said Paul is getting help from "a shadowy group" that is "funded with secret donations from the same establishment Republicans Paul once ran against." Paul defeated establishment-backed candidate Trey Grayson for the GOP nomination in May.
Crossroads is spending $1 million in California and $500,000 in Pennsylvania to air the ad for one week, and $520,000 to air the ad in Kentucky for two weeks.
Crossroads, like other emerging political groups running ads in this election year, can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals and corporations but is not required to disclose those donors. Group officials aim to raise $50 million to help Republican candidates in this election.
Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington contributed to this report.
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