Dueling Outside Groups Launch Obama Ads in Swing States

The nonprofit arms of major, dueling outside political groups — one backing Republicans, one Democrats — released two new TV ads in presidential battleground states today. Both ads offer contrasting views of President Obama on the issues of taxes and spending as the 2012 campaign kicks into gear.

Crossroads GPS, a pro-Republican advocacy group co-founded by strategist Karl Rove, says it’s spending $2.6 million across five states to blast Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on wealthier Americans and corporations to help pay for his jobs bill.

The ad prominently includes a clip of former President Clinton from an Oct. 13 appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman” saying he opposed raising taxes right now.

“Should you raise taxes on anybody right today — rich or poor or middle class? No,” the clip has Clinton saying, a clear attempt to contrast the popular former president with Obama.

Clinton attacked the ad today, saying it took his words out of context.

“The advertisement implies that I opposed the ‘Buffett Rule.’  In fact, I support both the American Jobs Act and the ‘Buffett Rule,’” Clinton said in a statement, referring to Obama’s proposal to impose a new minimum tax rate on Americans earning more than $1 million.

“I believe that it’s only fair to ask those of us in high-income groups – who have received the primary benefits of the last decade’s economic growth and the majority of its tax cuts as well – to contribute to solving our long term debt problem,” Clinton said.

The  “issue ad”  will air in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania for two weeks, Crossroads said.

At the same time, pro-Obama advocacy group Priorities USA has launched its first ad of the season, contrasting Obama’s support for Pell Grants and lower interest rates for some student loans with congressional Republicans’ vows to trim funding for these educational  initiatives.

“Cheering on our colleges and their students — it’s something we’re all in favor of. But Republicans want to take away their support,” says the narrator in the Priorities USA ad, going on to cite GOP-sponsored cuts to federal funding of educational grants.  “President Obama has a plan to help,” he adds.

The largely positive 30-second spot is a “five-figure statewide buy in Michigan and on national cable,” Priorities USA co-founder and chief strategist Bill Burton said.

Crossroads GPS and Priorities USA – which both operate in tandem with Super PACs with similar names — are two of the most high-profile and influential outside groups of the 2012 presidential campaign.

As nonprofit educational and issue-oriented advocacy groups registered under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, these groups can accept unlimited contributions and do not have to disclose their donors. They are, however, prohibited legally from engaging in direct electioneering, though sometimes to casual viewers of their ads it may be hard to see a difference.

Watch the Crossroads GPS ad HERE.

Watch the Priorities USA ad HERE.

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