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New ads target Obama, McCain

Advocacy groups hitting airwaves

Associated Press / September 16, 2008
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WASHINGTON - Ads assailing Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on taxes and abortion and Republican John McCain on his Vietnam record are hitting the airwaves - part of a surge in advertising by independent advocacy groups similar to those who played a large role in the 2004 election.

The abortion ad, a $350,000 spot that will appear during the next week in Ohio and New Mexico, aims to cast Obama as out of the mainstream, even among abortion rights advocates. Aired by BornAliveTruth.org, it singles out his efforts while in the Illinois Senate to defeat a bill that Obama and abortion rights advocates in Illinois have said would have undermined Roe v. Wade.

The ad features Gianna Jessen, a 31-year-old motivational speaker from Nashville, adopted as a child after a failed abortion. "Senator Obama, please support born-alive infant protections," Jessen says. "I'm living proof these babies have a right to live."

BornAliveTruth.org is organized as a nonprofit entity commonly known as a 527 for the section of the tax code that regulates such groups. Unlike political action groups, 527s can raise money from individuals in unlimited amounts. The main donor of BornAliveTruth is Raymond Ruddy, a prominent antiabortion figure in Massachusetts who supported Mitt Romney for president in the GOP primary.

The tax ad is the work of North Carolina-based RightChange.com, which plans to spend about $1.5 million in the next two weeks on national cable networks including Fox News Channel, CNN, and CNN Headline News, said spokesman Tim Pittman. Rightchange.com is financed largely by pharmaceutical executive Fred Eshelman, who has given more than $200,000 to Republican candidates and party organizations since 2002, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Meanwhile, the Service Employees International Union on Sunday began spending $2 million in six battleground states depicting McCain as out of touch on economic issues. And two Democratic-leaning political action committees launched a Swift Boat-style ad on CNN and MSNBC that features a former fellow prisoner of war criticizing McCain's temperament and calling him "unfit to lead."

"The prisoner of war experience is not a good prerequisite for president of the United States," Philip Butler says in the ad. "He was known as a very volatile guy and he would blow up and go like a Roman candle."

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