April 19, 2016
Dueling ads focusing on the NRA from a super PAC supporting Rep., Donna Edwards and another from the campaign of her rival in the Maryland Democratic Senate primary, Rep. Chris van Hollen, are airing widely in the Washington, DC television market. The ads appear on many of the same TV shows, including the Today Show, as well as local evening and mid-day news programming.
A controversial ad by Working for Us, a super PAC supporting Edwards, charges that van Hollen supported a legal loophole benefitting the NRA as a part of campaign finance legislation. In its original form, seen here, the ad uses imagery of President Barack Obama tearing up after the Newtown shooting tragedy, saying “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad.”
After the White House complained about the use of Obama in the ad, the super PAC altered it, removing the references to Obama. That version can be seen here; the new version started airing on April 15 in the Washington DC area, according to Political TV Ad Archive data. The ad –old and new versions–altogether has aired 120 times and counting on Washington, DC area major TV broadcast stations.
Meanwhile, van Hollen responded with his own ad, which also invokes Obama–but does so to attack Edwards. “An attack ad from the campaign for Donna Edwards. So untrue, so outrageous, that President Obama said: pull it down,” says the Edwards ad. The ad has aired at least 119 times in the Washington, DC area, according to Political TV Ad Archive data.
The two ads are appearing during many of the same TV programs. For example, the super PAC ad supporting Edwards aired four times on the Today Show between April 12 and April 19, while the Van Hollen ad aired five times on that show, starting April 15 and going through April 19. TV viewers watching the 6 o’clock news on WRC TV, the NBC affiliate, have had the opportunity to see the Van Hollen ad five times and the super PAC ad supporting Edwards three times. The 5 pm news show on the same channel has featured the Van Hollen ad three times and the super PAC ad in favor of Edwards four times.
The issue in question was campaign finance disclosure legislation that ultimately died before becoming law. As reported by Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post:
This particular dispute is over whether, in an effort to win support from Republicans and conservative Democrats, Van Hollen was right to exempt the National Rifle Association from 2010 legislation aimed at making shadowy political groups disclose their donors. Senior Democrats, including President Obama, were in favor of exempting the NRA — and the liberal Sierra Club — in hopes of generating enough support in Congress for the legislation to pass.”
Both van Hollen and Edwards have “F” ratings from the NRA, Weiner notes.
The Maryland primary is April 26.
This post has been updated to include more specific details about when the altered ad sponsored by Working for Us began airing.