1/8/08

Union $$ buy late negativity in N.H. for Clinton

The last-minute blitz of campaigning by the candidates in New Hampshire is also being matched by a last-minute blitz of independent expenditures – outside groups putting up their own money to advocate for, or against, different Presidential hopefuls.

Filings over the last few days at the Federal Election Commission show that Hillary Rodham Clinton is a big recipient of support from two of her strongest outside backers – the American Federation of Teachers and the Emily’s List political action committee.

The teachers’ union reports having spent just over $140,000 in a last-minute direct mail and radio campaign directed at women voters. This comes on top of a $310,000 radio campaign in New Hampshire that began last month.

And Emily’s List, a political action committee that supports women running as Democrats, is spending about $100,000 on phone banks and a direct mail campaign backing Mrs. Clinton. Outside groups, such as these, are allowed to pay for ads that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate, so long as their activities are not coordinated with the campaign. For instance, the American Federation of State, Local and Municipal Employees, which supports Mrs. Clinton, is spending about $45,000 in a direct mail campaign in New Hampshire criticizing Barack Obama.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney is on the receiving end of a continuing attack from the Republican Majority for Choice, which has been airing ads on New England cable channels that criticize Mr. Romney for his anti-abortion views and portray him as a flip-flopper on the issue.

A report filed with the F.E.C. shows that the Republican pro-choice group is spending just under $4,000 in last-minute cable television buys. The television ads show Mr. Romney, in 1994, saying that abortion should be “safe and legal” and then another showing Mr. Romney, in 2007, calling for an overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortions.

In general, however, the amount of outside activities in New Hampshire – from the filings at the F.E.C. – appear to be considerably less than the frenzy of activity that took place before the Iowa caucuses last Thursday.

“Maybe it’s just not as big a phenomenon,” said Robert Biersack, an F.E.C. spokesman. “Unless someone is doing something and not reporting it, this is it. If groups wanted to make television commitments, that had to do it some time back.”

Mr. Biersack noted, however, that the amounts spent by outside groups on get-out-the-vote efforts and other volunteer activities may not show up until late January, when some of these committees are required to file with the Internal Revenue Service.

Even with all the focus on New Hampshire, outside groups also have their eyes on one of the next prizes: Nevada, which holds its caucus January 19.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, which spent over $500,000 on television ads in Iowa supporting John Edwards, filed for about $10,000 of Nevada expenditures, mainly bumper stickers, hard hat decals and rally signs. Meanwhile, the teachers union is also airing a $95,000 radio campaign in Nevada on behalf of Mrs. Clinton.

(thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com)

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