President Obama Backed by Democratic Super PAC, Despite His Opposition to Outside Groups

Priorities USA, the independent expenditure group founded by former White House advisors Bill Burton and Sean Sweeny, today unveiled a new multi-state TV ad campaign targeting Republicans and refuting their attacks on President Obama.

The $750,000 buy will air in presidential battleground states like Florida, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina and Virginia beginning today and running through the weekend, Burton said.

It comes in response to a $5 million ad campaign launched Monday by Crossroads GPS, a pro-Republican independent nonprofit group founded in part by Karl Rove, that assails Obama’s economic record.

“We’re not able to match them dollar for dollar,” Burton said, “but in places where it’s competitive, we’re at least keeping pace with where they are.”

Burton said the ad was funded through the branch of the organization -- Priorities USA Action -- which operates under section 527 of the tax code, allowing it to raise unlimited funds and requiring it to publicly disclose identities of donors.

The group has stepped up its engagement in the national political debate just months after President Obama tried to rally opposition to outside groups, particularly those that are not required to disclose donors, during the 2010 elections.

The president said outside groups that can raise unlimited cash and don’t disclose its source are a “threat to democracy.”

But top Democrats have decided they could not let the pro-Republican groups go unanswered.

“The choice for progressives is do you let Karl Rove and other conservatives run tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars of ads to go unanswered, or do you fight back?” said Burton. “Our decision was that we fight back and so that’s why we’ve run this ad today.”

The 30-second Priorities USA spot, titled “Portraits,” features the faces of older Americans, veterans, and children, all of whom the narrator suggests would be burdened by Republican policy priorities.

“We are Americans. We know right from wrong. And we know the ads blaming President Obama for the economy are politics at its worse,” the ad says, as a headline graphic from the June 25th L.A. Times that reads “Karl Rove-founded group launches anti-Obama ads” appears on-screen.

“The Republicans have opposed economic reforms at every turn. And now they have a plan that would essentially end Medicare for future retirees, slash education, while giving huge tax breaks to big oil and the wealthy. We can’t rebuild America if they tear down the middle class.”

In an email blast to supporters last night, DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard echoed Burton in explaining the ad’s intent.

“It's clear that the Republicans have one priority: defeating President Obama,”Gaspard wrote. “But when we're attacked, we know we have to respond, and this is the first step.”

The ad was produced by the Philadelphia-based Democratic consulting firm Shorr, Johnson and Magnus. The group’s partners were part of the Obama media team during the 2008 presidential campaign.

-- Jake Tapper and Devin Dwyer

Note: This post was updated from an earlier version to reflect Burton's clarification that the ad was funded through Priorities USA Action.

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