The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Thursday it is temporarily suspending its television ads that attack the Democratic health care effort, becoming the second opponent of the effort to do so since Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's death.
R. Bruce Josten, top lobbyist for the business group, said his organization was pulling the commercials out of respect for the Massachusetts Democrat and his family. The chamber's $7.5 million campaign, running in 21 states for the past two weeks, criticizes the government-run optional coverage that many Democrats favor and says their plan would increase the deficit and taxes.
Josten said the ads would resume early next week, after the senator's funeral. Kennedy will be buried Saturday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Separately Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sent a fundraising appeal to supporters seeking to raise $100,000 before the end of this month to counter health care critics.
"Republican opponents of reform are coming out with one outrageous smear after the next, all aimed at derailing our progress. We must be able to counter their special-interest-funded attacks and set the record straight," Pelosi wrote.
She asked for donations of $5, $10 or more to reach the $100,000 goal.
"The August fundraising deadline is our last chance to show the grass roots momentum behind real reform before Congress returns to Washington, D.C.," Pelosi wrote.
The National Republican Congressional Committee countered by forwarding Pelosi's e-mail to its own supporters and urging: "Don't let Nancy Pelosi and her puppets steal your health care."
"The only way to stop government-run health care is to run Democrats out of the government. Together we can do that, so please contribute whatever you can," wrote NRCC executive director Guy Harrison.
On Wednesday, Conservatives for Patients Rights said it was temporarily halting its ads attacking the proposal, including one running in the Boston area while President Barack Obama vacations on nearby Martha's Vineyard.