- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2017

A new slew of ads from a pro-Trump group thanking House Republicans for supporting the president has created some questions around the true motives of the ads.

America First Priorities, a nonprofit group started by former Trump campaign aides, has cut ads in 12 congressional districts urging voters to thank their member of Congress for “standing with President Trump on repealing Obamacare now.”

The pro-Trump group was founded in January, but has been reportedly plagued by staffing wars and financial issues.

The ads in these districts are the first television ads the group has bought, according to Politico.

The group told The Washington Post that the $3 million “advocacy campaign” was meant to show the benefits of sticking by Mr. Trump.

But less than half of the 12 lawmakers being targeted with the ads were actually supportive of the health care plan that Mr. Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan tried to pass last month.

BuzzFeed News quoted one congressional aide, who declined to be identified, as saying the ad was being seen as an attempt to try to push lawmakers closer to Mr. Trump, and to energize the president’s base, making enough noise to remind House Republicans of their political power.

Congress is bracing for yet another go-around on health care, after top GOP leaders said they’re working on a new compromise designed to win over both the moderate and conservative opponents who helped sink the bill the first time.

Of the 12 members targeted in the new ads, five supported the Republican’s health care replacement plan, while five did not or were leaning toward not supporting it when the House leadership decided to scrap the bill. Two members were undecided.

One of the opponents was Rep. Tom Garrett, a member of the Freedom Caucus, who said the repeal didn’t go far enough.

“We can lower costs without creating a new entitlement,” he said at a press conference last month.

Meanwhile, Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama, another Freedom Caucus member who did support the Ryan-Trump plan, is facing heat back home for that stance.

In addition to Mr. Palmer and Mr. Garrett, the other targets are: Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Keith Rothfus of Pennsylvania, Tom Graves of Georgia, Scott Tipton of Colorado, Rob Wittman of Virginia, David Joyce and Michael Turner of Ohio, Martha McSally and David Schweikert of Arizona, and Brian Mast of Florida.

• Sally Persons can be reached at spersons@washingtontimes.com.

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