Raleigh, N.C. — The Republican National Committee is launching a new online ad attacking U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, paying to promote the message on video streaming services.
Hagan, a first-term Democrat, faces re-election this year. The filing period for candidates seeking election in 2014 opened Monday, and GOP voters will choose from at least five candidates hoping to face Hagan. As the Republican field sorts itself out, the Republican party has kept up a constant stream of criticism against Hagan for her support of the Affordable Care Act.
The latest ad builds on that theme, one of the most common for Republicans and conservative groups targeting Democrats this year. The ad makes the case that the Affordable Care Act, a measure sometimes called "Obamacare," is a drag on the economy.
Distributing web ads online can be nearly free, and they do not represent the commitment of resources, or garner the number of viewers, traditional television advertising does. Americans for Prosperity, a conservative independent spending group, for example, has paid more than $7 million to air ads on broadcast and cable television in North Carolina targeting Hagan on the same issue.
However, online advertising allows the party to target specific audiences. A staffer speaking on background said the RNC is paying to promote this spot on YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu and other video streaming services. The ad will run as "pre-roll," essentially appearing as a commercial before a viewer's chosen video starts. The party also plans to push the videos over Facebook and Twitter.
The ad cites a Congressional Budget Office report issued last week that suggests American workers will cut back on the number of hours they work, enough to add up to the equivalent of more than 2 million full-time jobs, because of the health care law. The report does not suggest companies will cut those positions, but Republicans have repeatedly cited it as evidence the president's signature bill damages the economy.
Fact checks of previous attempts to use the CBO report as political fodder have resulted in criticism that some in the GOP were inaccurately portraying the data. This new effort appears careful to not overstate the findings while still using it to attack Democrats.
"The Congressional Budget Office’s report confirms what we know already: ObamaCare is bad for the economy and for workers,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a news release announcing the ad.
Hagan is one of seven Democratic senators in hotly contested races that the GOP is targeting. The others include Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Udall of Colorado and Mark Warner of Virginia.
Web ads are also cheap to produce. The version targeting Hagan uses images of newspaper clippings and clips of broadcast interviews along with superimposed text to make its point.
"Out of work?" asks the first text overlay. "It's tough out there. Know what won't help? Obamacare." Those lines are immediately followed by a news anchor saying, "The Congressional Budget Office, CBO, says more than 2 million Americans will either quit their jobs or cut their hours because of Obamacare." The text overlays then return, asking, "Know who supported Obamacare? Senator Kay Hagan."
This ad was initially provided to WRAL News Tuesday night in exchange not to release its contents until 6 a.m. Wednesday. Immediate input from the Hagan campaign on this specific commercial was not available. However, in the past, Hagan has fired back at Republicans by saying they want to repeal the law without providing an alternative. She has also criticized Republicans in North Carolina for refusing to expand Medicaid, as allowed under the Affordable Care Act.
"Kay supports a commonsense fix to allow people to keep their plans, but all of her opponents and their special interest backers want to go back to a time when insurance companies can charge women more for coverage, drop you from your plan when you get sick and deny you care altogether because of a pre-existing condition," Hagan campaign spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said in response to a similar attack.