Republicans have poured millions this week into the effort to elect Mitt Romney and congressional GOP candidates -- a multi-level, coast-to-coast attack that also takes aim at swing states and President Obama.
The biggest spender this week appears to be the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has reserved roughly $18 million in advertising time in districts from California to Massachusetts to protect their House majority.
“What we’ve said from Day One is we’re going on the offensive across the country against House Democrats,” committee spokesman Paul Lindsay said Thursday.
He also acknowledged that efforts to defeat Democratic congressional candidates are inevitably connected to the president.
“It’s clear House Democrats are going to have to deal with the toxicity of President Obama’s agenda,” Lindsay said.
The reserved ads -- from the NRCC’s independent expenditure arm -- could go into as many as 25 congressional districts and either target vulnerable Democrats, or help Republican incumbents in tough challenges.
The committee could shift the spending among the district or change amounts -- just as House Democrats could with the $32 million in reserved ads they announced earlier this year. But the early buys suggest where the parties have drawn battle lines.
The NRCC, for example, has earmarked nearly $2 million to defeat Democratic incumbents Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre in North Carolina -- a state Republicans appear to increasingly think Romney can win.
Taylor Griffin, a GOP strategist at the Washington, D.C.-based Hamilton Place Strategies, points out the top of the November ticket leads the bottom.
“But regardless of the candidate, the message will be the similar,” he said. “All of that (NRCC effort) will accrue for Romney.”
Rob Lockwood, spokesman for the Republican Party of North Carolina, has yet to see the ads, but said Kissell and McIntyre “have been supporters of President Obama’s failed agenda” and any ad will likely make such a case.
“The money is going to help compare and contrast,” he said. “They have been Obama supporters, and the ads will demonstrate the shortcomings of both.”
Also this week, the Romney campaign began running $3.3 million worth of TV ads in seven general election battleground states -- Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, according to officials who track ad purchases. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the campaign has not announced the advertising plan.
The announced spending came in the same week wealthy casino mogul Sheldon Adelson gave $10 million to Restore Our Future, an independent group running ads that support Romney's campaign. Adelson and his family had already contributed $21 million to a super PAC that helping Newt Gingrich when he was still a GOP presidential candidate.
The Romney campaign ad buy was first reported by CNN. The Adelson contribution to Restore Our Future was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The contribution and the spending follows a record month for Romney and Republican National Republican Committee, who in May raised roughly $17 million more than Obama and Democratic National Committee -- $76.8 million to $60 million, respectively.
Griffin said whether Obama -- a master fundraiser in 2008 with the advantage of an incumbent -- can catch up remains to be seen.
“Ask an economist,” he said. “If the economy starts to recover, he’ll have a more credible case.”