I dislike 527 ads as much as the next guy, but I think Obama’s campaign strategist David Axelrod made a mistake this morning on Meet the Press.
MR. AXELROD: The, the, the so-called negative ads you’re talking about are a, a response spot to a negative ad that was put on the air in Pennsylvania by a group called The American Leadership Project, one of these 527 so-called independent campaigns, funded by the Clinton campaign, run by Clinton operatives, a negative ad against Senator Obama. The response spot dealt with Senator Clinton briefly, and 20 percent, 20 seconds of it was a positive exploitation of Senator Obama’s program.
If he had said “funded by Clinton allies,” Axelrod would have been in the clear. But the Clinton campaign isn’t funding the group. (Or if he has evidence that the Hillary Clinton campaign is giving money to the group, he ought to unveil that smoking-gun.)
The New York Times writes about the American Leadership Project today, “which on Wednesday began broadcasting commercials in Pennsylvania praising Mrs. Clinton on health care, offers an indication of how challenging it could be to raise money for an independent effort. The group has raised only about $1.5 million so far. As a result, it spent only about $425,000 in Pennsylvania, after doling out about $750,000 for commercials in Texas and Ohio earlier this year. It intends to play a more substantial role in Indiana, its leaders said.”
The Times notes, “Almost all of the group’s money has come from two unions that have endorsed Mrs. Clinton, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which has contributed $1.2 million, and the Machinists Union. But the list of individual donors is telling in that eight of the nine people who gave $5,000 or more to the group had already given the maximum $2,300 donation for the primary to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign.”
Again, if Axelrod wanted to say his campaign’s negative ads were justified because they responded negative ads run by Clinton “allies” in this 527, that would be accurate. But the Clinton campaign itself isn’t funding the group.