NEW YORK – Previewing its fall strategy, John Kerry's (search) presidential campaign will buy $45 million worth of commercial time in 20 states through Election Day, including spots on cable television and advertising geared toward minorities.
The buy is timed to coincide with the conclusion of President Bush's (search) nominating convention as Kerry seeks to curb the Republican incumbent's momentum. Anxious Democrats are pushing Kerry to beef up his staff and woman for the Massachusetts senator, said Tuesday that the purchasing strategy calls for ads to begin running in the remaining 10 states between now and Nov. 2. She said some ads will run on cable as well as black and Hispanic media.
"The new ads will frame the fundamental choice that voters face in this election: an administration that has pursued policies that benefit the few and 'miscalculated' the situation in Iraq, or the Kerry-Edwards plan that understands a stronger America begins at home with specific plans to create jobs, strengthen the economy and help middle-class families get ahead," read a campaign statement.
The Democratic presidential nominee is targeting the oft-mentioned battleground states of Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington state, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
The campaign will make the ad buy on Wednesday. Because the campaign won't say how much it will spend in each state, it's hard to know which states it believes it can win and which states will see smaller amounts of money for other reasons, such as an attempt to make Bush defend his turf.
The early purchase has some political and financial benefits, but it comes with some risk: Bush now has an early roadmap of Kerry's Electoral College strategy.
Matthew Dowd, the Bush campaign's chief strategist, criticized Kerry's campaign for tipping its hand. "It's laughable that they announce. They have no real message or vision other than process stories," he said.
Upon accepting his party's nomination last month, Kerry received $75 million in federal funds for the fall campaign. Bush gets the same amount later this week. Besides the taxpayers' money, Kerry and Bush control another $15 million or so in money spent by their respective parties.
Cutter said the campaign is holding back an undisclosed amount for ad buys later in the campaign.
The strategic splash comes as Democrats outside the campaign expressed concern about Kerry's campaign, and damage done by fellow Vietnam veterans who raised unproved allegations about his Vietnam War (search) record.
"Bush and his surrogates have been vicious and unforgiving -- and they have scored a lot of political points," said Frank Schreck, an operative and fund-raiser Frank Schreck of Nevada. Democrats are telling Kerry needed to respond, either by raising issue with Bush's stateside service during the Vietnam War or by changing the subject to the economy and Iraq.
Kerry, meanwhile, has added several layers of staff to his campaign team, quietly pulling authority from some and empowering others. The staff is rife with rumors of more additions or subtractions, fueled by the fact that Kerry's poll ratings have dropped since his convention in Boston.
It is unusual for campaigns to tip their hand so early, but the strategy may help Kerry save money and build a sense of momentum as Bush emerges from his nominating convention. The Kerry campaign had already announced an extensive travel schedule for the candidate and his top surrogates.
"There are advantages to it," said Bill Carrick, who produces ads for Democrats from his California base. "In a pure barter system like media buying, it's all about supply and demand. It's going to cost less to buy time now than in a month or two."
"The disadvantage is the other side knows exactly what you're doing months out," Carrick said.
With the advanced buy, Kerry has left Virginia out of his strategic planning, at least for now.