A TV ad taking aim at U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet over his vote in favor of the Iran nuclear deal drew howls of outrage from Democrats and others this week. But the outspoken head of the group that paid for the ad says it’s just the opening salvo in a fusillade of vicious attacks on Bennet, who is up for reelection next year.
Reminiscent of the “Daisy” ad targeted at GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater more than 50 years ago, the ad begins with children counting down in their native languages — including Hebrew, Arabic and Chinese — before the screen fills with a mushroom cloud and scenes of devastation.
“A nuclear Iran is a threat to the entire world,” it says. “Sen. Michael Bennet supports Obama’s Iran Deal. Sen. Michael Bennet is jeopardizing our safety. Call Sen. Michael Bennet. … Ask him, ‘Why?’”
With a $46,000 ad buy on three local Denver stations — backed up by about the same in online advertising — the ad won’t be seen often by many, but that wasn’t the point. So-called “earned media” (stories like this one!) amplify the ad dollars by treating it as a news event.
Jonathan Lockwood, the director of Advancing Colorado, the uber-conservative, ultra-provocative group that lobs vitriolic press releases almost daily, threw down.
“Bennet is a dangerous puppet, and we will never forget he voted to hold the American people hostage and sided with terrorists and madmen to silence the innocent people he represents here in Colorado,” Lockwood said.
Calling the ad “horribly offensive and misleading,” state Dem communications director Andrew Zucker responded.
“With Washington Republicans lacking an opponent in the Colorado Senate race, it comes as no surprise that a secretly funded group with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers is out with a deeply offensive, fear-mongering attack against Sen. Bennet,” said Zucker. “The truth is, Michael Bennet passed tough sanctions against Iran, has worked to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon and is authoring legislation to make the Iran deal even stronger.”
The next day, when The Denver Post editorial board called the ad “the latest exercise in political sleaze” and opined that Lockwood “sounds flat-out deranged on the topic,” Zucker forwarded that far and wide, too.
The criticism doesn’t faze Lockwood, however. While he refused to say who funds his group, he claims the Left’s favorite bogeymen — that would be “the billionaire Koch brothers” —aren’t behind it.
“Liberals are more scared of this ad than they are of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he told Chatter. “They are more mad or shocked or scared over Americans expressing themselves than with Iran chanting ‘Death to America.’
“This is our opening salvo on the Iran deal issue-advocacy campaign,” he added. “The deal is not going to get any better as time goes on, it’s going to get worse and worse. People can rest assured we’re going to be continuing our work on this issue.”