Pro-Clinton super-PAC hoards cash for historic blitz

 Pro-Clinton super-PAC hoards cash for historic blitz
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The biggest super-PAC supporting Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE is sitting on its cash and preparing to launch the largest general election spending effort by an outside group in Democratic Party history.

“We’re trying to do something that no one has done on the Democratic side in terms of the scale,” said Guy Cecil, the head of Priorities USA Action, in an interview with The Hill. 

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“We plan a multimonth, multistate campaign that targets not just undecided voters but core Democratic voters that too many times get taken for granted.”

Priorities USA has spent $11.5 million in the presidential primary campaign and is sitting on some $94 million in donations and commitments. By contrast, Right to Rise, the super-PAC that supported Jeb Bush, spent $103 million before Bush quit the GOP presidential race in late February.

Though Cecil says he has never taken the likelihood of Clinton’s primary victory for granted, his group hasn’t spent a cent on negative advertising against Clinton’s rival, Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE. And Priorities is now in the process of reserving $70 million of TV advertising for the general election.

A Republican source familiar with super-PAC advertising buys said the group’s early purchases of ad time in seven battleground states — Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia — means it might spend less than a third of what rival super-PACs will have to pay later this year.

The cheaper rates could be a significant advantage in the general election campaign, when Priorities is poised to be up against well-funded Republican super-PACs. 

For example, the influential network run by billionaires Charles and David Koch has an $889 million budget set for 2016.

“Democrats typically start at a significant disadvantage when it comes to outside spending,” Cecil told The Hill. “In 2012, Priorities was outspent significantly by Mitt Romney’s super-PAC … and we have every reason to expect that we’ll be outspent in this election."

“We’ve always been more focused on the general election. … It’s something we’ve been planning over the course of time knowing, or hoping, that Hillary would be the nominee.”

Priorities, which is funded by liberal billionaires including hedge fund tycoon George Soros — who has given at least $6 million so far — initially spent most of its resources doing opposition research on the mainstream GOP candidates who were early favorites: Bush, Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRyan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Richard Gere welcomes lawmakers' words of support for Tibet Dem lawmaker gives McConnell's tax reform op-ed a failing grade MORE and Scott Walker.  

But in the last couple of months, Priorities has homed in on Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 MORE as the candidates likely to win their party’s nomination, Cecil said.

Cecil is carefully watching Republican efforts to take down Trump said he has already learned some lessons about what not to do against the bombastic billionaire.

“We are not going to win the election by out-Trumping Donald Trump,” Cecil said. “It doesn’t mean that we don’t move quickly and aggressively to call out when he engages in horrible behavior … we plan on following [the Clinton campaign’s] lead on in some respects.”

Cecil says Republicans waited too long to take on Trump and that “there were many people who were writing him off pretty early in the process and never readjusted as the polls continued to show that he was ahead in so many places.”

“And, frankly, they didn’t even adjust after the first couple of contests that he won,” Cecil said. “When you think about the amount of earned media … it’s very difficult to run a campaign in two weeks, three weeks, that’s going to compensate for being absent from the case for seven or eight months.”

Asked whether that meant that Priorities would go after Trump aggressively before August, when its $70 million campaign begins, Cecil responded, “We don’t foreclose the idea.” 

Priorities has already begun polling and focus groups on Trump and is working with American Bridge, an allied outside group run by Clinton supporter David Brock, on research into the billionaire’s business career. Left-wing lawyers and tax experts are pouring over Trump’s legal and financial records.

Cecil says Priorities is also beginning a state-by-state analysis that will reveal which states a Trump candidacy would put in play. 

“We’re not foreclosing the idea that we would advertise in a place like North Carolina, which the president won in 2008 and which ended up being rather close in 2012 despite the fact that they were significantly outspent,” Cecil said. 

“I know that folks have talked about Georgia and the fact that that state is changing rapidly. … I think we're going to look for opportunities to expand the map.”

Asked how Priorities would respond to Trump’s inevitable personal attacks on Clinton, including bringing up decades-old sexual allegations against Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMueller’s probe doesn't end with a bang, but with a whimper Mark Mellman: History’s judgment Congress should massively ramp up funding for the NIH MORE from women such as Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones, Cecil said, “the super-PAC won’t be engaging in that.” 

Nor, Cecil claims, is Priorities making any plans to address the FBI investigation into the handling of classified information related to the private email server Clinton used as secretary of State.

“None. None. It’s just not our role,” Cecil said regarding the super-PAC’s response to the FBI investigation. 

“I think it’s gonna come to a conclusion, and she has expressed every confidence that she thinks it will resolve itself in a way that reveals that, besides what she’s already addressed, there’s nothing else there.

"And I believe that that will be the case.”

Those luxuries — avoiding personal mudslinging with Trump and ignoring the FBI investigation — may prove to be pipe dreams come the general election. 

But for the time being, Cecil can enjoy what is unambiguously good for him and Clinton: watching Republican billionaires spend millions beating up on Trump. 

“The Republicans are doing us a favor by so aggressively going after their likely nominee,” Cecil said. “For all intents and purposes, they’re doing more advertising on our behalf than we ever could at this point in the election cycle.”