Commentary Magazine


Topic: American Future Fund

New Group to Target Dems Over Hagel Vote

On the heels of reports that the American Future Fund is launching an anti-Hagel ad campaign, another conservative group has announced it will also run ads opposing the Secretary of Defense nominee. Americans for a Strong Defense, a newly formed group led by former Romney aides, says it will specifically target vulnerable Senate Democrats. Politico reports:

A group of Republican strategists is forming a new outside group aimed at thwarting Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary, with a plan to air TV ads and to have people on the ground in the states of key senators to apply pressure in advance of his confirmation hearing

Americans for a Strong Defense will be the latest group to hit Hagel from the right. As POLITICO reported yesterday, the well-funded American Future Fund is launching a multistate ad campaign against Hagel, and the William Kristol-founded Emergency Committee for Israel has already aired cable ads in Washington arguing the former Nebraska senator is weak on Iran and in his support for Israel. …

The group’s officials acknowledged that Hagel is a Vietnam veteran and war hero, but made clear they will paint him as “outside the mainstream” on key defense issues.

Among the senators the group will pressure to oppose Hagel are Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. All of those Democrats are up for reelection in 2014.

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On the heels of reports that the American Future Fund is launching an anti-Hagel ad campaign, another conservative group has announced it will also run ads opposing the Secretary of Defense nominee. Americans for a Strong Defense, a newly formed group led by former Romney aides, says it will specifically target vulnerable Senate Democrats. Politico reports:

A group of Republican strategists is forming a new outside group aimed at thwarting Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary, with a plan to air TV ads and to have people on the ground in the states of key senators to apply pressure in advance of his confirmation hearing

Americans for a Strong Defense will be the latest group to hit Hagel from the right. As POLITICO reported yesterday, the well-funded American Future Fund is launching a multistate ad campaign against Hagel, and the William Kristol-founded Emergency Committee for Israel has already aired cable ads in Washington arguing the former Nebraska senator is weak on Iran and in his support for Israel. …

The group’s officials acknowledged that Hagel is a Vietnam veteran and war hero, but made clear they will paint him as “outside the mainstream” on key defense issues.

Among the senators the group will pressure to oppose Hagel are Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. All of those Democrats are up for reelection in 2014.

One of the board members of the new group is Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of Cuba Democracy Advocates. Claver-Carone is a registered lobbyist who has opposed efforts to lift U.S. sanctions against Cuba. While Hagel’s Israel record has already received plenty of media attention, his support for engagement with the Cuban dictatorship has unfortunately received far less coverage. The Politico story doesn’t say whether this group will focus on that issue, but that’s what Claver-Carone’s role seems to indicate. 

Hagel’s positions on Cuba likely concern some key Senate Democrats, including Sen. Bob Menendez, who could become a major obstacle for the White House if he decides to oppose Hagel’s nomination.

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AFF Launches Anti-Hagel Ad Campaign

Politico reports that the American Future Fund is launching an anti-Hagel ad campaign that will target senators in their own states. This is interesting, because AFF’s usual wheelhouse is free market economic issues, though it has strayed into the foreign policy realm on critical occasions. It certainly contradicts the narrative that the opposition to Chuck Hagel is coming primarily from neoconservatives:

The American Future Fund will go after the former Nebraska senator in state and national media outlets in the two weeks leading up to his confirmation hearings, AFF strategists told POLITICO. The Senate Armed Services Committee announced Wednesday that it will begin hearings on Hagel starting Jan. 31.

AFF plans a multi-stage messaging effort against Hagel, starting Thursday with ads online and in the Washington D.C. market, then extending to the states of senators voting on Hagel’s appointment to lead the Pentagon.

AFF spokesman Stuart Roy declined to put a price tag on the effort but said the organization will leave “no stone unturned in terms of mediums.” That will begin this week with a website, HagelNo.com, and ads in Washington-based media, including POLITICO.

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Politico reports that the American Future Fund is launching an anti-Hagel ad campaign that will target senators in their own states. This is interesting, because AFF’s usual wheelhouse is free market economic issues, though it has strayed into the foreign policy realm on critical occasions. It certainly contradicts the narrative that the opposition to Chuck Hagel is coming primarily from neoconservatives:

The American Future Fund will go after the former Nebraska senator in state and national media outlets in the two weeks leading up to his confirmation hearings, AFF strategists told POLITICO. The Senate Armed Services Committee announced Wednesday that it will begin hearings on Hagel starting Jan. 31.

AFF plans a multi-stage messaging effort against Hagel, starting Thursday with ads online and in the Washington D.C. market, then extending to the states of senators voting on Hagel’s appointment to lead the Pentagon.

AFF spokesman Stuart Roy declined to put a price tag on the effort but said the organization will leave “no stone unturned in terms of mediums.” That will begin this week with a website, HagelNo.com, and ads in Washington-based media, including POLITICO.

The White House may have thought the Hagel criticism would die down after Schumer came out in favor, but this is a sign the opposition is solidifying, at least within the conservative movement. The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard also reports on renewed anxiety among Senate Democrats. According to Bedard, some are questioning why Obama chose Hagel in the first place:

The nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to head the Pentagon is coming under two new lines of attack.

Senate Democratic sources tell Secrets that members are complaining that President Obama has yet to explain to them why he picked the gruff Nebraska Republican and why the White House hasn’t supplied them with extensive talking points to use to support him.

“All he has to do is tells us why he picked him, and he hasn’t done that. It makes it hard to fight for Hagel,” said a key Democratic aide.

As I wrote yesterday, Senate Democrats seem willing to provide obligatory support for the president’s decision. But asking these Democrats to actually fight for a former Republican senator with a bad attitude, a history of controversial foreign policy positions, and accusations of anti-Semitism against him is a very different story. It’s not surprising they’re getting nervous.

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