It is no secret that the Koch-financed SuperPAC Americans for Prosperity is spending millions of dollars this year in an attempt to help Republicans win the Senate. They have run ads in states where incumbent Democratic Senators seeking reelection appear especially vulnerable. The ads that AFP have run so far are almost entirely centered around the Affordable Care Act. The Kochs have gone all in with Obamacare, feeling that it is the one issue that can get Republicans elected to the Senate in red and purple states.
Over the past few months, AFP has produced many ads that have been criticized for being either misleading or entirely false. With the amount of negative publicity that the SuperPAC has received for their Obamacare ads all across the nation, you’d think that they’d go with another strategy. However, they only have one play in their playbook and that’s the one they’re going to use. Earlier this week, they unveiled yet another anti-Obamcare ad, targeting Democratic Senator Mark Udall of Colorado.
Udall is facing a challenge from Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), a Tea Party backed candidate. The initial ad produced by AFP was planned to run this week. The gist of the ad was that over 300,000 Coloradans had lost their health insurance due to Obamacare. It featured an image of Udall standing with the President looking solemn, as if they were both upset over the failure of the Affordable Care Act.
Well, it appears that there was a very good reason that Udall and President Obama looked sad and downtrodden in the image they used. The image came from a press conference at an Aurora hospital shortly after the 2012 Aurora shooting tragedy. Udall and the President, along with Governor John Hickenlooper, were addressing the media shortly after one of the worst mass shootings in American history.
On Wednesday, Buzzfeed pointed out that AFP photoshopped that image into their ad. Immediately, there was an outcry from Aurora-area families affected by the tragedy. Inevitably, AFP pulled the original ad and released a new ad, with the image of Udall and Obama changed. The content of the ad is no different, but now they aren’t using a manipulated photo from a tragic event to mislead the public into thinking that a Senator and President are solemn because of Obamacare’s ‘failures’ instead of a shooting that claimed dozens of victims.
Buzzfeed has the original video up at their site. Below is the new ad being run by AFP:
Let’s face it. If nobody investigated and pointed out that this image of Udall and Obama together came from a hospital where Aurora shooting victims were being treated, then the original ad would be playing on Colorado television sets right now. Quite frankly, conservatives have no shame when it comes to things like this. It is bad enough that the content of the ad is total crap. AFP is trying to give the appearance that 335,000 people in Colorado lost their insurance entirely.
It is completely misleading when Republicans tout all of the people who had their insurance plans ‘canceled’ due to Obamacare. Obviously, they are trying to use it as a way to combat the fact that millions of people have signed up for private insurance plans using the marketplaces. Millions more have received coverage via Medicaid expansion or being able to stay on their parents’ plans. By constantly screaming about cancellations, Republicans are looking to create an impression that millions of people were kicked off of their insurance with no recourse other than to sign up through Obamacare.
The fact is, the majority of people who received ‘cancellation notices’ were immediately placed into ACA-compliant policies by their insurance companies or were provided with a number of different options. For the most part, they felt no real impact from the transaction. 335,000 Coloradans did not lose their health insurance and had to immediately sign up on the exchange. However, that is the impression that AFP wants to create with this ad. much like other ads it has run in competitive Senate races.
Personally, I hope that AFP continues to run these types of awful, misleading ads. For the most part, they’ve basically just backfired on them. They give the Democratic candidates ammunition to use. The national media has focused on the lack of factual content of their ads. Fact checkers have shredded them. My feeling is at this point, AFP and other Koch-backed groups may be hurting GOP candidates more than they are helping them. Especially if they continue to focus solely on Obamacare.