Kept at bay for months in the US Senate race by a pact curbing outside advertising, Karl Rove’s political group, Crossroads GPS, has begun blasting voters with “robocalls” targeting Elizabeth Warren.
One call criticizes Warren’s work leading a panel that monitored the federal bank bailout, erroneously suggesting she ran the bailout, and another claims that her support for President Obama’s health law could limit Medicare availability, even though the law does not propose doing so.
The calls are not a violation of the pledge the two candidates signed in January. The “People’s Pledge” penalizes the candidates if outside groups spend money on television, radio, or Internet ads on their behalf. But it does not limit outside mailings or phone calls, something Warren, a Democrat, and Senator Scott Brown, her Republican opponent, acknowledge.
The ads by Crossroads GPS come a month after a Globe reporter saw Brown meeting with Rove at a Tampa hotel restaurant during the Republican National Convention. The Brown campaign has said it was a chance meeting, not planned by either. The campaign would not say Thursday whether the two men discussed the Crossroads GPS robocalls, insisting again that the two simply ran into each other.
The Brown campaign pointed out Thursday that several groups have sent mailings and placed fliers on doors on Warren’s behalf, long before the Crossroads calls began. The campaign also pointed to data on the website OpenSecrets.org showing that outside groups supporting Warren were outspending those supporting Brown by roughly three to one on those efforts so far this year—$599,152 to $215,891.
“We are pleased that the People’s Pledge has held up and kept third-party groups off the airwaves as intended,” Brown’s spokesman Colin Reed said in an email. “Outside groups on both sides have been getting involved in this race in other ways not covered by the agreement, especially on behalf of Elizabeth Warren, who has benefited by a margin of nearly 3-to-1 from these sort of activities.”
A spokesman for Crossroads did not return calls and an email seeking comment.
Warren’s campaign spokeswoman, Alethea Harney, said the Rove call reinforced the message that the race is a national fight between Democrats and Republicans.
“This election is about whose side you stand on—and we all can see who stands with Scott Brown,” Harney said in a statement. “Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and national Republicans are wading into this race because they want Republican control of the Senate.”
The campaign did not respond to questions about the third-party fliers and mailings that have been sent out on Warren’s behalf.Noah Bierman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman.