- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Virginia is again showing its stripes as a swing state, with Democrats and Republicans pouring money into the commonwealth 15 months ahead of the national elections.

On Wednesday, two GOP groups announced ad campaigns in Virginia and other swing states - those which historically could either vote Democrat or Republican and “swing” an election.

The Republican National Committee released its final ad of a monthlong blitz criticizing President Obama’s economic policies.

The foreboding ad depicts a young girl sitting in front of a television on the “final day” of Mr. Obama’s second term - Jan. 20, 2017 - watching news of increasing unemployment and debt to China reaching “record levels.”

The ad will run through this week in Florida, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

“Our No. 1 goal at the RNC this cycle is to lead Barack Obama back to a life of surfing in Hawaii and retire him,” RNC political director Rick Wiley said Wednesday.

In addition, Crossroads GPS, the “super PAC” of Republican strategistKarl Rove, launched its latest ad Wednesday - part of a summerlong, $20 million campaign in swing states, including Virginia.

Crossroads and its sister group, American Crossroads, raised $71 million in 2010 to help promote conservative candidates and causes, and expects to raise $120 million for the 2012 cycle.

In response, former White House aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney have launched Priorities USA, their own outside campaign group, which last month purchased $750,000 worth of ads to respond to Crossroads’ efforts.

“While President Obama looks to find sensible solutions to getting our fiscal house in order, the RNC continues to show they’d rather run negative ads than work in good faith to create jobs,” said Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the Democratic National Committee. “The Republican Party continues to play politics and hold the American economy hostage with their unwillingness to compromise.”

Such an early back and forth suggests the outside groups’ impact on the 2012 elections will be even bigger than it was on the midterms, said Stephen Farnsworth, associate professor of communication at George Mason University.

“The Republicans were able to generate a lot of opportunities for House seat pickups in 2010 because of the outside money, and the Democrats will learn from the experience in 2010 and try to do better in 2012,” he said.

However, not everyone is happy with such a development. Two watchdog groups filed a petition with the Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday stating the agency should change its rules for such 501(c)(4) tax-exempt groups and cap campaign spending at 5 percent to 10 percent of their total expenditures.

Mr. Obama’s approval rating in the state has dipped to 47 percent from 51 percent last month, according to a poll released this week by the Democrat-leaning firm Public Policy Polling.

However, he still leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Texas Gov. Rick Perry as a Republican opponent next year.

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