Oil Drilling Advocates Drive Presidential Debate With Ads
While polls show the economy as the
top concern of voters, a review of political attack ads suggests
a different issue dominates: energy.
Americans for Prosperity, an organization backed by oil
interests, last week began airing its third television
commercial since November, a campaign worth $6.1 million,
attacking Obama’s green energy policies.
The latest round brings the group’s total ad buys to $12.5
million this year, compared to a combined $5.7 million total
spent on ads of all sorts by Obama and Priorities USA Action, a
Washington-based super political action committee supporting
him. Priorities on April 24 teamed with the League of
Conservation Voters to begin a $1 million commercial run that
accuses presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney,
the former governor of Massachusetts, of being a protector of
the oil industry.
“Energy is the issue unless the entire economy starts to
unwind,” said Stephen Brown, a lobbyist for oil refiner Tesoro
Corp. (TSO) (TSO) of San Antonio, Texas.
That’s not the conclusion of the White House, which
includes energy policy in a broader discussion about the economy
and job creation. The ability of oil interest groups, though, to
attempt to carve out and elevate their issue is the latest
example of how the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has
changed politics by allowing corporations, unions and wealthy
individuals to spend unlimited sums to drive the debate.
‘Buy the Election’
“While the president fights every day to build an economy
where everybody gets a fair shot and does their fair share,
special interests across the country are mobilizing to buy the
election for Governor Romney to try to promote their interests
over the interests of the American people,” Ben LaBolt, Obama’s
campaign spokesman, said in response to Americans for
Prosperity’s latest ad buy.
In April, 16,991 negative ads aired in various parts of the
country and 13,748 of them — or 81 percent — focused on
energy, according to data provided by New York-based Kantar
Media CMAG, which tracks advertising.
Republicans say the ads are timely and effective because
high gasoline prices put Obama on defense at
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