ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who is positioning herself to be a major player in the Democratic Party’s 2012 fundraising efforts, pledged that a new group she is forming will help Democrats “compete dollar to dollar” with Republicans over the next two years.
Townsend has teamed up with David Brock, founder of the liberal media watchdog Web site, Media Matters, to form American Bridge, a group that aims to be a counterweight to right-leaning organizations such as American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent millions to support conservative candidates and causes in 2010.
Altogether, outside groups on the right spent roughly double the amount that liberal organizations did this year.
In an interview with ABC’s Amy Walter and Jonathan Karl on Thursday’s edition of “Top Line,” Townsend said that the fact that a group like American Bridge did not exist in the last election cycle “turned out to be a disaster because, as you know, the Republicans outspent the Democrats by $70 million.”
“That can turn a lot of elections and we could've done better in the last round if we had had more money,” she added. “So, we're going to make sure that in two years -- 2012 -- we're going to have money. We're going to raise it and we're going to make sure, we're going to give it to Democrats.”
Brock recently told The New York Times he already received $4 million in pledges to fund the independent expenditure committee, which would be able to collect unlimited sums from donors.
Townsend indicated that the sky’s the limit for American Bridge: “I want to raise $80 million. I want to raise $100 million. I want to compete dollar to a dollar with the Republicans and I want to beat them.”
“But,” she acknowledged, “realistically we'll have a better sense in a couple of months of how much and what we can do.”
Townsend cautioned that Democrats would need a message to match those ambitious fundraising goals. And on a topic of intense debate in Washington -- the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts -- she urged Democrats not to cave to Republican demands to keep the cuts in place for wealthy Americans in addition to the middle class.
“You should have the tax cuts for people, as you said, making less than $200,000 or $250,000 for a couple, but for people making over that. Where are they spending their money? They’re not spending it necessarily and if they're investing, they're going to be investing in new markets in China and India. They're not creating jobs here in the United States.”
And recalling the investments that her uncle, President John F. Kennedy, made in the areas of science and space exploration in the 1960’s, Towsend said that American competitiveness should be a key talking point for Democrats during the next election cycle.
“Right now China is spending billions of dollars on new energy products, why aren't we?” she said. “We've got to make sure that we're changing the dialogue in Washington to say that the federal government has a role to play to make us competitive.”
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