Bush Critics Launch Big Ad Blitz

Talk about a slew of early issue advertising.

An online liberal group is spending a hefty $1.9 million on a two-week television commercial blitz to blast President Bush's Iraq policies in five states that will be battlegrounds in next year's presidential race.

MoveOn.org (search) will begin broadcasting the 30-second ad Thursday in major media markets in Florida, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio and West Virginia. The TV industry estimates that average viewers will see the ad about 10 times over the course of its run.

Typically, interest groups air such high volumes of issue ads (search) in the months leading up to an election. MoveOn is starting its ad campaign much earlier to engage people now, its founder said.

"There's learning that has to be done early," said Wes Boyd, founder of MoveOn, which has 1.7 million members. "There's momentum that has to be built. That's not something you do by hoarding funds in a war chest and dropping it on advertising in October."

In the ad, an announcer suggests that Bush misled the country and describes ways the $87 billion Bush wanted for Iraq and Afghanistan could be spent domestically.

"We could have built 10,000 new schools. Or hired almost 2 million new teachers. We could have rebuilt our electric grid (search). We could have insured more of our children," the announcer says. Images of children, teachers and a woman reading by a flickering light illustrate the point. "If there's money for Iraq, why isn't there money for America?" the announcer asks.

The ad aired briefly in New York and Washington in October as Congress debated the supplemental spending bill.

Analysts who monitor political advertisements expect MoveOn.org to spend more than most issue groups on ads during the presidential campaign.

The Washington-based group, formed in the late 1990s to oppose the impeachment of President Clinton, has more than $6 million in its ad fund so far to air commercials in battleground states about Bush's policies.