Barack Obama's campaign arm is going after Republican and Democratic Senators alike in a major new health care reform advertising campaign that could last for the remainder of the month.
Organizing for America's 30-second spot, titled "It's Time," was formally made public to reporters including the Huffington Post in early July. Now the details of the ad, which frames the need for health care reform around personal stories of struggle, have officially been released. And they're impressive.
OFA will be running the ad on national cable, the District of Columbia, local stations in Arkansas, Indiana, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska and Ohio, and major online news sites. While no financial figure for the purchase was offered, an official with the group said the spot will be airing for the next two weeks -- roughly to the point when the Senate Finance Committee is hoping to finalize its version of health care legislation.
From the details it is easy to infer just which Senate votes the White House and, by extension, leadership in the Democratic Party see as most critical to health care's passage. No Senators are named in the ad. But the spot is airing in the home states of critical moderates - Senators Ben Nelson, D-NE, Olympia Snowe, R-ME, Susan Collins, R-ME, Mary Landrieu, D-LA, and Blanche Lincoln, D-AR - as well as recalcitrant Democrats - Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. - and retiring Republicans - Senators Mel Martinez, R-FL, and George Voinovich, R-OH.
"Millions of Americans lose their health insurance when they lose their job, are denied care because of a pre-existing condition, and delay care or skip medication because they can't afford it," said OFA Executive Director Mitch Stewart in a statement trumpeting the ad's release. "Skyrocketing health care costs are hurting American families and straining already-strapped budgets for businesses and governments. It's time to reform our health care system to lower costs, preserve patient choice and ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable care."
OFA itself has tried to influence the health care debate through the collective power of its 13 million members. The organization, which is left over from the Obama presidential campaign and operates in basic coordination with the Democratic National Committee, has hosted house parties on the need for reform. It has also sponsored online town halls for its members and launched a website aimed at allowing individuals to share their personal stories of medical struggle.
Through it all, an OFA official says, the broader goal remains to make common citizens the face and voice of the need to systematically overhaul the health care system. The ads, which come as two major Senate committees (Finance and HELP) are finalizing work on respective outlines for health care legislation, are the latest and most aggressive steps in that process.