NRCC's Scarpinato: Old-fashioned Billboards Effective at Targeting Democrats

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 06:36 PM

By Greg Richter and John Bachman

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The National Republican Congressional Committee recently introduced rolling billboards in four targeted Democratic districts tying the IRS to Obamacare.

The tax-collecting agency has been under fire for making conservative groups jump through extra hoops when filing for tax-exempt status. And it will be in charge of enforcing compliance with the Affordable Care Act.

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The NRCC's national press secretary, Daniel Scarpinato, tells Newsmax TV the billboards are an effective communication tool that has been used in the past. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Ron Barber of Arizona, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, and John Barrow of Georgia are the subjects of the campaign.

Scarpinato calls these districts "Republican in nature," having voted for George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. "But Democrats hold them on the congressional level and a lot of these guys have kind of slipped through their elections by running as . . . so-called moderates."

"They've done nothing, however, but support Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama in Congress, voting against repealing Obamacare and voting for Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House," he said.

The four "just fundamentally don’t fit their districts and we picked them so that we can get that message out to the folks back home," he tells Newsmax.

The ads read: "Congressman -----'s Plan: Put the IRS in charge of your healthcare. Fed up? Call ----- at -------."

"One of these billboards is up in my hometown of Tucson against Congressman Ron Barber," Scarpinato said. "My phone has been blowing up all day with texts from people back home who are seeing this billboard."

The IRS' plan to run healthcare will be a big mid-term election year issue for Republicans, he said.

The rolling billboards, which are driven throughout the district were successful in the last election cycle, Scarpinato said.

"It's very visual, the billboard spends the whole day driving through the community. Sometimes the candidates and the members of Congress themselves see the billboard. Their friends and neighbors see it. So it really creates a ripple effect in the community and really gets the community talking about the issue."

Scarpinato says it's no exaggeration to say that the targeted districts will determine whether Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House again.

The IRS scandal is a big issue with voters, he said, now that Obamacare's effects are actually being felt. "All you have to do is pick up the newspaper and you're bound to see a story … about small businesses that are being impacted by the implementation of Obamacare," he said.

"Before, people knew. They didn’t like it. They didn’t like how it sounded. Now we're actually living under Obamacare in a way we never have before," he said.

A small businessman who has been critical of the Obama administration might be fearful of the IRS executing its job on healthcare fairly after seeing how it targeted conservative groups, said Scarpinato. "They haven’t proven themselves to be fair with the tax code."

There are currently no plans to bring out the rolling billboards in more districts, Scarpinato said. His group is also putting a lot of work into digital efforts.

Still, he noted, "sometimes it's the old-fashioned campaigning that really has an impact back in these districts, particularly in some of the rural areas where people see something and they talk about it with their friends and neighbors."

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