- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2003

The ad war over President Bush's proposed tax cuts shows no sign of ending as Round 2 began yesterday in Maine with a new commercial defending Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, jointly sponsored by a labor union and a group of center- and left-leaning Republicans.
The Republican Main Street Partnership and the Service Employees International Union are running $42,000 worth of television ads thanking Mrs. Snowe, Maine Republican, for insisting Senate Republican leaders limit the eventual tax cut to $350 billion.
The president had sought $726 billion while the House eventually settled on $550 billion.
Last weekend Mrs. Snowe became the target of ad campaigns both criticizing and praising her stance.
Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, executive director of RMSP, said its new ad praises Mrs. Snowe for keeping the tax cut low in order to protect social priorities something the union also lauded.
"As the nation's largest health care union, SEIU works to hold politicians of both political parties accountable on issues important to working people," said Christy Hawkins Davis, spokeswoman for the union. "We wanted to thank Senator Snowe for basically standing up for protecting resources for health care, education and prescription drugs."
But David Keating, executive director of the conservative Club for Growth, said that by joining with the union and running the ads the RMSP has shown it "should just change their name to the Democratic Main Street Partnership."
"I think it's hilarious that a group called the Republican Main Street Partnership is taking money from labor unions and other big-spending interest groups to thank Republicans for undercutting the president on an important issue," he said.
The club began the ad war last weekend by running a commercial in Maine and Ohio saying the two senators were opposing the president's domestic agenda the same way France had opposed his policy in Iraq. The RMSP responded last week with its first ad defending Mrs. Snowe.
Dave Lackey, spokesman for Mrs. Snowe, said 80 percent of the calls to her office have been supportive. He said Mrs. Snowe remains committed to only $350 billion in tax cuts, which she says would still allow the immediate stimulative aspects of the president's plan.
"Her concern about ballooning deficits has made her very comfortable with a $350 billion tax cut," Mr. Lackey said.
For its part, Mr. Keating said the club is about to begin production of another ad and though it hasn't decided where it will be run, Maine is a prime target.
Asked about the ads Friday, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer did not criticize them, though he didn't endorse them either.
"I'm not going get into every different group's ads against anybody in our political electoral system," he said. "I think you're going to be able to anticipate all kinds of groups running all kinds of ads on the air. They are not necessarily reflective of what the president thinks, the president's approach."
Aside from affecting the debate, the back-and-forth has been good for both groups' fund raising.
Mr. Keating said the club has received plenty of monetary support. Ms. Resnick said RMSP has received enough donations ranging from $25 to $500 to cover the $40,000 cost of the first ad that ran this past week.
Still, Ms. Resnick said, the spat doesn't help Republicans.
"I'm getting calls from Democrats thanking us," she said. "Democrats are watching us, and they're thrilled because they know both organizations are burning through money."

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