RNC Plans Ad Assault

By Greg Wallace

Jul 2, 2008 3:59pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: The Republican National Committee is planning its first round of advertising to support Sen. John McCain’s candidacy, with an initial wave of ads set to run this weekend in four swing states, Republican officials tell ABC News.

The RNC’s initial buy of approximately $3 million will target the differences between McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., on energy policy. The ads — produced and purchased by the Republican Party’s newly established independent expenditure arm — will air in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, according to GOP officials.

“Following Barack Obama’s decision to become the only major party presidential candidate in history to not adhere to campaign spending caps, the Republican National Committee has begun an independent expenditure campaign in accordance with FEC regulations,” Brad Todd, who was named this week to head up the party’s independent expenditure arm, said in a statement provided to ABC News.

“The RNC will first advertise this weekend in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, highlighting the issue of energy security, which is emerging as a defining difference in the race for president,” Todd said. He declined to discuss the content of the ads in further detail.

Under federal law, the RNC can spend only $19.1 million in coordination with the McCain campaign. But it can spend unlimited sums through its independent expenditure entity, which legally cannot have any contact with RNC officials or the McCain campaign.

Such help will be critical for McCain particularly in light of Obama’s decision to reject public-financing spending limits. Some observers expect Obama to outspend McCain by a margin of 3- or 4-1 during the final two months of the campaign. With no major 527 groups emerging on the GOP side, the RNC will be charged with making up as much of that difference as possible.

Todd, a founding partner of the GOP ad firm OnMessage Inc., most recently handled ads for Gov. Bobby Jindal’s, R-La., 2007 gubernatorial race. In the 2006 cycle, his clients included Maryland Senate candidate Michael Steele and Michigan governor’s candidate Dick DeVos.

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