Group launches ‘visible nationwide’ campaign opposing Hagel

A conservative group active in the 2012 elections is launching a multi-faceted ad campaign against former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), President Obama’s nominee to be the next Defense secretary.

The American Future Fund is starting a print ad campaign Thursday and plans to launch a new website, hagelno.com that will go live Wednesday evening, said spokesman Stuart Roy.

ADVERTISEMENT
Roy said in an interview that in the coming days the group would be ramping up their efforts, unveiling several more elements to the campaign against Hagel. The campaign is intended to reach a national audience as well as target the states of key senators.

“By Tuesday or Wednesday we’ll be very visible nationwide,” he said.

Roy declined to say how much money American Future Fund was putting into the ad buy.

“We’ll be talking to people nationally on the topic, and we have a fairly well-funded effort here so people can be informed about Hagel as a nominee and the controversial positions that he’s had,” Roy said.

Based in Iowa, the American Future Fund spent more than $24 million on independent expenditures in the 2012 election cycle, including nearly $20 million on the presidential race, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

The group is just the latest organization to launch a campaign against Hagel. The Emergency Committee on Israel took out national TV ads against the former Nebraska senator over his positions on Iran, and the Log Cabin Republicans launched a print-ad campaign blasting him for his statement calling a gay diplomatic nominee “openly aggressively gay” in 1998.

The Republican National Committee has also sent out releases criticizing Obama’s pick to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Pro-Hagel supporters have fought back with endorsements from U.S. diplomats and military officials. A group of 50 former ambassadors and former State and Defense officials released a letter in support of Hagel Wednesday, which they described as “the largest-ever direct appeal by American diplomats to Congress” in support of a Cabinet nomination.

Hagel’s chances of getting confirmed were boosted Tuesday when Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a key Democratic voice on U.S.-Israel relations, said he was supporting Hagel after the two met this week.

A half-dozen Republican senators have said they will oppose Hagel, and a number of others from both parties have raised concerns about his statements and positions.

The campaign from the American Future Fund is timed to lead up to Hagel’s confirmation hearing, which the Senate Armed Services Committee announced Wednesday would be held on Jan. 31.