Massive Campaign For Obama Hits Air

By Mike Allen
|  Thursday, Aug 13, 2009  |  Updated 1:15 PM CDT
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Massive Campaign For Obama Hits Air

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President Obama, shown here at a New Hampshire town hall meeting where he tried to sell his health care reform plan, is getting a boost from a $12 million ad campaign.

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A new coalition on Thursday launched $12 million in television ads to support President Obama’s health-reform plan, in the opening wave of a planned tens of millions of dollars this fall.

The new group, funded largely by the pharmaceutical industry, is called Americans for Stable Quality Care. It includes some odd bedfellows: the American Medical Association, FamiliesUSA, the Federation of American Hospitals, PhRMA and SEIU, the service employees’ union.

The ads started airing at 11 a.m. ET Thursday.

The group is likely to be the biggest spender in support of health reform. The campaign will serve as a counterweight to the critics at town meetings, which are getting saturation news coverage while Congress is out of town.

In a reversal from former President Clinton’s 1993-94 health-care debacle, the group’s campaign is likely to mean that White House supporters keep the upper hand on the airwaves.

PhRMA’s participation is key, because the group has promised to kick in as much as $150 million for advertising and grassroots activity to help pass the president’s plan.

The debut ad is meant to shore up support among the conservative House Blue Dog Democrats, and to target swing senators. So it’s airing in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and Virginia. The first buy is expected to run for two weeks, with a weekly spend of around $3 million.

“This group has joined forces to communicate the specific benefits of reform at a time when there is a lot of misinformation about what health care reform actually means,” an official of the group said.

The first ad is called, “Mean for You,” as in, “What Reforms Means for You.”

The 30-second script, with a soothing male narrator: “What DOES health insurance reform mean for you? It means you can’t be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, or dropped if you get sick. It means putting health-care decisions in the hands of you and your doctor. It means lower costs, a cap on out-of-pocket expenses, tough new rules to cut waste and red tape, and a focus on PREVENTING illness before it strikes. So what does health insurance reform really mean? Quality, affordable care you can count on.”

The official provides a little more backstory: “These groups were part of a looser coalition that started back in January that focused on the links between health reform and the economy. Now that the debate is turning on what health reform means for the individual, they felt the need to launch a new front that addresses some of those particulars while debunking some of the myths that are floating around. Plus, these groups recognize that their collective voice packs more punch than if they were to just speak out individually.”

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