The HillTube

Crossroads hits five Senate Democrats with new ads

ADVERTISEMENT
The targets: Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D).

The list is notable: Many Republicans have argued that the open North Dakota Senate seat leans strongly Republican and shouldn't be much of a concern for the party, but this group's spending there is a sign they're less than fully confident that Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) is safe in the race.

Four of the ads explicitly tie the candidates to Obama, using a clip of Heitkamp calling him "amazing" and arguing that "Tester's way is Obama's way." The only one that doesn't mention the president is in Nevada, where he remains relatively popular and is running stronger in the polls against Mitt Romney than Berkley is against Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

The Virginia ad attacks both Kaine and Obama in a state where both the presidential and Senate election are expected to be close. "We work hard and save," the ad's narrator says. "Obama and Kaine tax and spend."

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pushed back against the ads.

"Republicans like George Allen, Dean Heller, Rick Berg and Dennis Rehberg have always done the bidding of partisan special interests at the expense of middle class Americans, and now these same special interests are returning the favor by funding attack ads to prop up their campaigns," said DSCC spokesman Matt Canter. "These misleading attacks are only designed to distract voters from the disastrous Republican agenda and voters are going to see through these tactics."

The group is technically the policy arm of American Crossroads, which allows it to keep its donors a secret but means it has to advocate on policy rather than focus directly on elections. The $1.2 million ad buy, once it's split up among the states, is a relatively small purchase for the group, which along with American Crossroads plans to spend $250 million total on this year's election.

This post was updated at 1:50 p.m.