The Week In Conservative Attack Ads

Earlier this week, Crossroads GPS made the unusual decision to pull its support from a competitive Senate race, dropping planned ads attacking Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill after tasteless comments on “legitimate rape” from her Republican opponent, Todd Akin, made headlines. The group’s multi-million-dollar assault on the airwaves continued across other states, however. Of the 13 ads we fact-checked this week, Crossroads GPS was responsible for five of them, attacking Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Bill Nelson in Florida, Martin Heinrich in New Mexico, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, and Jon Tester in Montana. We also looked at three ads from Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, three from the American Future Fund, one from the National Federation of Independent Business, and one from pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future.Most of the spots mentioned the Affordable Care Act, with many misrepresenting the facts to sell support for the law as support for a budget-busting behemoth. All three American Future Fund ads referred to the “$2 trillion health care law,” a willful distortion that counts the law’s costs but none of the savings to obscure the fact that the law reduces the deficit. Five of the ads (three from Crossroads GPS, one from AFP, and one from Restore Our Future) spread misinformation about the “failed” or “wasteful” stimulus, which actually helped save the economy from an even deeper recession.

Focus On Florida

This week showed particularly heavy interest in the Florida Senate race between Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Connie Mack. Three separate conservative outside groups targeted the Sunshine State, each ad taking a different tack. Crossroads GPS took advantage of public confusion over the Affordable Care Act’s impact on Medicare, dishonestly suggesting to Florida’s seniors that their benefits will be cut and they’ll lose control of their health care decisions. American Future Fund focused on the national debt, though it also mentioned the health care law and threw in a gratuitous line calling for Nelson to “protect seniors.” NFIB, a business group that received $3.7 million from Crossroads GPS in 2010, took a more personal approach, highlighting a Florida business owner who claimed that a “conglomeration” of regulations were impairing his businesses’ ability to grow.

Read more after the jump.

Crossroads GPS: “Channel”

An ad from Crossroads GPS hits Sen. Sherrod Brown with a series of misleading insinuations, suggesting that Brown approved of a “health care takeover” and job-killing taxes on Ohio businesses. But the health care law relies on the private sector, and neither it nor Brown’s most recent vote for the Middle Class Tax Relief Act raise taxes for most Americans. What’s more, the Recovery Act didn’t ‘fail – it helped keep the recession that killed millions of jobs from being even worse.

Read more after the jump.

Crossroads GPS: “More Martin Spending”

Crossroads GPS attacks Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) for supporting the Recovery Act, implying that the “failed stimulus” – and not the devastating recession that was well underway when Heinrich took office – is responsible for job losses in New Mexico. However, the Recovery Act created jobs and cut taxes for millions of Americans, while New Mexico’s unemployment rate has fallen almost 1.5 percentage points from its recession-driven high.

Read more after the jump.

Crossroads GPS: “Suffered”

Crossroads GPS accuses Sen. Bill Nelson of “hurting Florida’s seniors” by supporting the Affordable Care Act, which the ad says “cuts Medicare spending by $700 billion.” However, while the health care law does reduce the future growth of Medicare spending, it does not cut seniors’ benefits – and Nelson’s opponent, Rep. Connie Mack, voted for the same savings last year when he backed the GOP budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan. The health care law also benefits seniors by closing the “donut hole” and providing free preventive care, while repealing the Affordable Care Act would hasten Medicare’s insolvency and have negative consequences for millions of Americans.

Read more after the jump.

Texas Judge: “We’re Talking Lexington, Concord, Take Up Arms And Get Rid Of The Guy” If Obama Wins

Appearing on Fox 34, Lubbock County Judge Tom Head (R) said:

[Obama] is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N. OK, what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst case scenario now – civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war, maybe. And we’re not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy. Now what’s going to happen if we do that – if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops. I don’t want ‘em in Lubbock County, okay, so I’m gonna stand in front of their armored personnel carriers and say “you’re not coming in here.” And the sherriff, I’ve already asked him, I said, “Are you gonna back me?” He said, “Yeah, I’ll back you.” Well, I don’t want a bunch of rookies back there. I want trained, equipped, seasoned veteran officers to back me.

Read more after the jump.

Crossroads GPS: “Every Single Day”

An ad from Crossroads GPS attacks Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) over the national debt, suggesting that he’s to blame even though it was Bush-era policies and the recession that drove up spending and decreased revenues. The Recovery Act helped prevent an even worse recession, and the “budget-busting” health care law actually reduces the deficits. Moreover, a vote against raising the debt ceiling wouldn’t keep down debt – it would have prevented the U.S. from paying bills it had already incurred and risked economic catastrophe.

Read more after the jump.

American Future Fund: “Choice: North Dakota Heidi Heitkamp”

American Future Fund praises Heidi Heitkamp’s character, but suggests North Dakota voters shouldn’t support her because Rep. Rick Berg offers a better vision for government. AFF illustrates that contrast by talking about the Medicare spending reductions in the Affordable Care Act, which the ad claims are “putting seniors at risk.” But while Heitkamp was in North Dakota voicing support for President Obama’s health care law, Berg was in Congress voting for the exact same ‘cuts’ – twice.

Read more after the jump.

Americans for Prosperity: “Smarter Spending Not Higher Taxes”

Using familiar distortions of Senate candidate Tim Kaine’s tenure as governor of Virginia, Americans for Prosperity falsely claims that Kaine left Virginia with a $4.2 billion deficit. In reality, Kaine cut billions to balance every budget during his term, despite revenue shortfalls caused by the recession. AFP’s accusations about tax hikes are also out of context; Kaine’s proposals sought to fund much-needed transportation upgrades, which the GOP wanted to pay for with more long-term borrowing. And although Kaine never voted on the Affordable Care Act, AFP’s claim that the law is a “huge tax” leaves out the fact that most Americans won’t see a tax increase from the health care law, which also provides tax credits for millions.

Read more after the jump.

Americans For Prosperity: “Nevada Taxpayers First”

Americans for Prosperity targets Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) for supporting clean energy legislation and voting against a proposed balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. However, the American Clean Energy and Security Act would have had a minimal impact on most consumers, and actually would have decreased energy costs for low-income households. In addition, the constitutional amendment that Berkley opposed would make cyclical economic downturns more severe, while AFP’s use of “family budgets” to justify the ban on deficits fails to consider that most Americans rely on things like mortgages and student loans.

Read more after the jump.

National Federation Of Independent Businesses: “Government Regulations Hinder My Business”

An ad from the National Federation of Independent Business follows Florida business owner Dean Mixon around as he blames government for hindering his businesses’ growth, then calls on Florida Sen. Bill Nelson to “start supporting Florida’s small businesses, not Washington bureaucrats.” In the process, NFIB flashes a series of “facts” on screen to give the impression that regulations are doing significant harm to the economy. Whatever Mixon’s personal experience has been with regulations, business owners and economists generally blame a lack of demand, not the current regulatory environment, for holding back growth.

Read more after the jump.