Published: April 8, 2012
American Crossroads, the biggest of the Republican “super PACs,” is planning to begin its first major anti-Obama advertising blitz of the year, a moment the Obama re-election campaign has been girding for and another sign that the general election is starting in earnest.
With an anticipated bank account of more than $200 million, officials at American Crossroads said they would probably begin their campaign this month. But they said they would focus the bulk of the first phase from May through July, which they believe is a critical period for making an impression on voters, before summer vacations and the party conventions take place.
Steven J. Law, the group’s leader, said the ads would address the challenge of unseating a president who polls show is viewed favorably even though many people disapprove of his handling of the economy. Basically, Mr. Law said, “how to dislodge voters from him.”
The ultimate goal of the Crossroads campaign, Mr. Law said, would be to better connect Americans’ disappointment with the economy to their views of the president, especially among crucial swing voters.
The Crossroads advertising push — the timing of which has been the subject of avid speculation at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago — would give the campaign of Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, the time and cover to map out its national organization, replenish its bank account and put the finishing touches on its own long-discussed advertising plan, which is expected to highlight the economic pain of ordinary Americans.
Crossroads was founded with help from the Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie — the latter just signed on as an adviser to Mr. Romney — and so far it has largely been sitting on the sidelines, studying the electorate and planning for the fall as the Republican nominating contest continued.
Its decision to enter now is helped by a growing perception that the Republican race is nearly over and that Mr. Romney is the presumed nominee, particularly as speculation increases about the future of the candidacy of Rick Santorum (who is not campaigning for several days because of his daughter Bella’s illness). And Crossroads’ planned intervention affirms predictions that the general election campaign will be fought in large part by proxy, via the super PACs, which have been emboldened by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010 that helped pave the way for their creation.
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