Hard-Right PAC Complicates GOP Mission

By
Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 6:00 am
Jim Tedisco and Scott Murphy (Jim Tedisco for Congress, Scott Murphy for Congress)

Jim Tedisco and Scott Murphy (Jim Tedisco for Congress, Scott Murphy for Congress)

?Over the weekend, Steve Greenberg turned on his TV to watch college basketball and was treated to something that’s become unavoidable in his part of the country: a new ad for the special election in New York’s 20th Congressional District. This one was attacking Scott Murphy, the venture capitalist nominated by the Democratic, Independence, and Working Families parties to replace now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

“Scott Murphy bragged he created thousands of jobs,” said a female narrator, in a tone of voice that made her sound like Murphy’s disappointed homeroom teacher. “But just not here in New York. He created jobs in India. And just like the rest of Wall Street, Murphy paid big bonuses to executives while working people struggle to get by.”

Image by: Matt Mahurin

Image by: Matt Mahurin

The National Republican Trust PAC, a well-heeled Washington, D.C.-based political group, has spent $190,000 to put that ad on the air. But according to the non-partisan Siena Research Institute, for whom Greenberg is a spokesman, negative ads against Murphy are not paying dividends. According to the Siena Poll released on March 12, Murphy has closed a double-digit gap and is now just four points behind Republican candidate Jim Tedisco. Only 12 percent of voters said the ads they saw for Tedisco made them more likely to support the Republican, to 28 percent who said they became less likely to support him.

Voters may be blaming Tedisco for a campaign he isn’t running. “It is really hard for voters,” said Greenberg, “outside of guys like me who pay attention to this stuff, to discern between an ad for Murphy or an ad by the national Democrats, an ad by Tedisco or an ad by someone who supports Tedisco.”

Republicans are looking for signs of hope from the race in NY-20, a sprawling, rural district that covers much of the Hudson Valley. The election is not just a chance to add to the diminished Republican ranks in the House, but also an opportunity to break through the media clutter and start talking about a political comeback. Last month, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele called the race a “battle royale” that could give the party a crucial win. But last week, as polls showed the race tightening, Tedisco announced that he was “taking over” his campaign and ditching negative ads. It was seen as a rejection of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s strategy of attacks on Murphy’s business record

Neither the NRCC nor outside groups such as the National Republican Trust are paying much heed to Tedisco. NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said that the committee had an “obligation” to educate voters about Murphy. Strategists for two independent groups that are running controversial anti-Murphy ads in NY-20 say they’re doing what conservatives want as the mealy-mouthed national party falters. The two PACs weighing in for Tedisco – the National Republican Trust and Our Country Deserves Better PAC – allow conservative donors to fund red meat attacks from less-experienced political operators.

“We don’t talk to the Tedisco campaign,” said Scott Wheeler, the executive director of the National Republican Trust PAC. “It’s our job to expose Scott Murphy. He is the poster boy for Democrat Party hypocrisy that has, for far too long, been allowed to go unchecked.”

“I believe what I say,” Wheeler said. “That’s why some political insiders describe me as a wingnut.”

His National Republican Trust PAC has been stunningly successful in garnering money and attention for TV ads that attack candidates on points that Republican campaigns won’t touch. It was launched in September 2008 by Wheeler, a journalist who worked at the conservative Cybercast News Service, and Peter Leitner, a national security consultant who worked for the Reagan administration. Neither had worked in politics before, but they rented mailing lists and appealed to conservative donors for an ad that told voters about what they said were Barack Obama’s plans to give Social Security benefits and drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants. In the final weekend of 2008 presidential campaign, the National Republican Trust PAC spent $2.5 million on prime-time, broadcast TV ads that played portions of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s sermons while telling viewers that Obama “had never complained once” about Wright.

By the end of the 2008 campaign the National Republican Trust PAC had spent $8.14 million against Obama and $633,000 in the runoff for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat. Wheeler and Leitner point to that second campaign as proof of their success in pushing bold, harsh messages that party committees blanch at. Fox News pundit Dick Morris, whose Triangulation Strategies was paid $27,000 by the National Republican Trust PAC before the Georgia runoff, has praised the group publicly and lent his name to its fundraising e-mails. This has financed an aggressive campaign that, according to Wheeler and Leitner, is exposing politicians whom the mainstream media gives a pass. According to Leitner, one example of media failure — and why the National Republican Trust PAC needs to do its work — is the lack of investigation into whether Obama is an American citizen. (Most media outlets have been satisfied with a Hawaiian certificate of live birth that the Obama campaign made public last summer.)

“The media has really failed in its function as a Fourth Estate,” explained Leitner. “The documentation about Obama’s basic eligibility for the presidency needs to be seen, if he wants to put the issue to rest once and for all.”

“It’s not just about the birth certificate,” Leitner continued. “There are some other documents that should exist — for example, the declaration his mother made when she came back into U.S. after living in Indonesia. Was she accompanied by an infant? Was she pregnant at the time? Was she traveling with a minor? This is normal government record keeping, and it would be revealed by anyone who had nothing to hide.”

Our Country Deserves Better PAC, which is based in California and headed by frequent Republican candidate and former state Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, lacks the funding of the National Republican Trust PAC. At the start of 2009, it had only $140,000 in the bank to the National Republican Trust PAC’s $1.9 million. But its strategists share Wheeler and Leitner’s view of the mainstream media and of the muddled messaging of the Republican Party.

“We created the PAC last year because there was a widespread feeling that the McCain campaign did not have its act together,” said Our Country Deserves Better PAC chief strategist Sal Russo. “It did not have a clear message. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell haven’t emerged as big leaders. Michael Steele has a lot of promise, but he got off to a bad start.”

Like the National Republican Trust PAC, Kaloogian and Russo’s group ran a Jeremiah Wright ad because the John McCain campaign wouldn’t touch the issue. Like the larger PAC, it has dropped ads into NY-20 that touch on issues Tedisco will no longer talk about, such as an article Murphy co-wrote in college that argued for keeping the ROTC off campus, and tax liens placed against a business Murphy founded. The ads began running in early March, when the NRCC was running with the same material, and when Tedisco had no objection to the NRCC’s campaign. Since then, Murphy has risen in the polls.

Fewer people in NY-20 have seen Our Country Deserves Better PAC’s ads than have seen most other commercials in the district — the group’s first buy, in early March, was only $9,490. But the presence of both groups in the district is cutting against the Republican candidate’s message.

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Comments

22 Comments

rico
Comment posted March 17, 2009 @ 3:50 am

Michael Steele is an embarassment to his party and their efforts. You can read more about his failures here:

http://www.ricoexplainsitall.com/politcs-econom…


The money on the right
Pingback posted March 17, 2009 @ 10:24 am

[...] Dave Weigel spotlights a tricky problem for the GOP: Independent groups have the most success raising money for sharply negative, intensely conservative attack ads; but that may not be where the swing voters are. [...]


24AheadDotCom
Comment posted March 17, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

Most media outlets have been satisfied with a Hawaiian certificate of live birth that the Obama campaign made public last summer.

The MSM helped BHO get elected and has shown almost no interest into looking into the flaws in his policies, his many lies, and his background. In fact, they've helped him cover things up.

I'm not going to spend much time on this since all Soros' money can't buy this site readers, but if anyone wants to understand Dave Weigel's journalistic integrity and just how low it is, see the link. Understanding the less complicated point made here might be the best starting point however. Then, move on to the summary page, then read the Weigel link. If anyone makes it through those you won't trust Weigel's reporting abilities.


PoliTrix » Blog Archive » NY-20: Local TV Rips Tedisco
Pingback posted March 17, 2009 @ 8:00 pm

[...] Michael Steele) have put hundreds of thousands of dollars into this race, only to find that their ads are backfiring. The National Republican Trust PAC, a well-heeled Washington, D.C.-based political group, has spent [...]


APoliticsNow!» Blog Archive » NY-20: Local TV Rips Tedisco
Pingback posted March 17, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

[...] And Tedisco’s allies, unfortunately, are not helping him: hard-right PACs with , along with the NRCC and Republican National committee (led by the beleaguered Michael Steele) have put hundreds of thousands of dollars into this race, only to find that their ads are backfiring. [...]


revbob
Comment posted March 18, 2009 @ 1:48 am

“I'm not going to spend much time on this since all Soros' money can't buy this site readers,”

Are there still people for whom the name George Soros still has resonance as a boogyman?

Me, I'd rather frighten myself with tales of Keyser Soze.


Igormarxo
Comment posted March 18, 2009 @ 11:12 am

Difference between communist USSR Media and USA Media
In Russia government make media say what they want – even if lie. In USA mainstream media try to make government what they want – even if lie. Eventually they become same thing?!

I Igor produce Obama Vault Birth certificate at http://www.igormarxo.org


Jack
Comment posted March 18, 2009 @ 11:56 am

Upstate republicans are very socially liberal, libertarians and not easily scared off of Democrats. Tedisco should run a populist anti-Wall Street campaign and bring a positive image to the Tedisco name. This district voted for Gillibrand twice and Tedisco's real strength is name recognition and if he runs a campaign against the Obama admin, he will lose and those voters will pick Obama over him. Besides, I'm not really sure what the birth certificate controversy will accomplish besides wasting GOP money that can be better spent at grassroots outreach. Will Biden replace him as president or will McCain win by default? I guess its a slim talking point for 2012 when JEB runs. Obama was born in Hawaii and his mother did not travel to Indonesia until after her divorce to Obama Sr. But McCain was born in the Panama Canal.


Doubtful
Comment posted March 18, 2009 @ 1:15 pm

Well, I for one have read 24AheadDotCom's arguments about Dave Weigel's journalistic integrity, and I don't find them at all convincing. It seems to me the COLB doesn't have to be verified, it is in itself proof of Obama's date and place of birth.

The only way out is to show that the document is fake. That would be a criminal offense. Why is it then that there are civil suits challenging it but not even a hint of a criminal investigation, much less a charge being brought?

I don't believe for a minute that every state and federal prosecutor is in on some conspiracy, and therefore it seems to me that Weigel is pretty much calling it the way it is.


heyoh
Comment posted March 19, 2009 @ 11:53 am

That’s why some political insiders describe me as a wingnut.”

Outsiders too Scott.


heyoh
Comment posted March 19, 2009 @ 12:01 pm

Fox News pundit Dick Morris, whose Triangulation Strategies was paid $27,000 by the National Republican Trust PAC before the Georgia runoff, has praised the group publicly and lent his name to its fundraising e-mails.

tsk tsk tsk


heyoh
Comment posted March 19, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

That’s why some political insiders describe me as a wingnut.”

Outsiders too Scott.


heyoh
Comment posted March 19, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

Fox News pundit Dick Morris, whose Triangulation Strategies was paid $27,000 by the National Republican Trust PAC before the Georgia runoff, has praised the group publicly and lent his name to its fundraising e-mails.

tsk tsk tsk


Hot News » Make It Right Campaign
Pingback posted March 21, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

[...] [...]


Will ‘Wingnut’ Cost GOP The 20th? : The New Argument
Pingback posted March 23, 2009 @ 3:30 pm

[...] “wingnut” Scott Wheeler’s misguided efforts may cost the GOP the special election to fill the [...]


NY-23: ‘The Best Choice for Progressives’ « Yuvablog
Pingback posted October 29, 2009 @ 9:51 am

[...] candidate Jim Tedisco took some damage from negative ads run on his behalf by hard-right allies during the NY-20 special election earlier [...]


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