IA-02: NRCC, Loebsack launch first tv ads (updated)

A few weeks after reserving television advertising time in Iowa’s second Congressional district, the National Republican Congressional Committee started running a spot against three-term Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack late last week. Loebsack’s campaign launched its first television commercial of the year today.

The NRCC is on the air in all three Democratic-held Iowa House districts, but with relatively small ad buys. IA-02 covers 24 counties in several different media markets. According to NRCC deputy communications director Andrea Bozek, “Loebsack Energy” is running in the Quad Cities on broadcast television only.

My transcript:

Male voice-over: Guess which part of the Iowa economy depends on energy? All of it. [words on screen against plain white backdrop: WHICH PART OF THE IOWA ECONOMY DEPENDS ON ENERGY? ALL OF IT!]

Agriculture, manufacturing, small business [split screen shows farm machine in a field on top, assembly line equipment in the middle, three men wearing service uniforms at the bottom]

And Dave Loebsack voted against them all. [words on screen DAVE LOEBSACK VOTED AGAINST THEM ALL]

Loebsack voted a straight party line for a radical plan that would raise energy prices [Photo of Loebsack next to words LOEBSACK VOTED THE PARTY LINE FOR A PLAN THAT WOULD RAISE ENERGY PRICES; in very small print at bottom of screen, Vote 477, rest of source illegible, looks like an association of manufacturers]

Experts say Loebsack’s plan could cost 32,000 Iowa jobs. 32 thousand jobs. [same photo of Loebsack next to words LOEBSACK’S PLAN COULD COST 32,000 IOWA JOBS 32,000 JOBS; source is National Association of Manufacturers and The American Council for Capital Formation]

Loebsack’s supposed to vote for Iowa, but now, he just votes the party line [photo of Loebsack next to words LOEBSACK’S SUPPOSED TO VOTE FOR IOWA  NOW, HE JUST VOTES THE PARTY LINE]

The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

This commercial may be more effective than the spot the NRCC briefly ran against Loebsack on cable television last year, but it doesn’t provide any context regarding the alleged plan that would raise energy prices. Vote number 477 from June 2011 was the Democratic motion to recommit with instructions the so-called “Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011.” This bill

would loosen regulations on air pollution caused by oil and gas drilling, and eliminate the Environmental Appeals Board’s authority to review applications for oil drilling leases. Specifically, the bill would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from measuring air pollution caused by oil drilling on water. Rather, the EPA would be limited to measuring such pollution emitted on land. In addition, the underlying oil drilling bill would eliminate the Environmental Appeals Board’s authority to review applications for oil drilling leases. Under the bill, the authority to review challenges to oil drilling permitting decisions would instead be vested in the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Iowa Democrat Leonard Boswell (IA-03) voted with House Republicans for final passage of this bill. Loebsack sensibly voted no, as did his Democratic colleague Bruce Braley (IA-01). When House Republicans brought up a similar bill in June of this year, the Iowa delegation split the same way.

I have not been able to find the text of the Democratic motion to recommit the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011 with instructions, but most of the Democratic amendments related to the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate air pollution. I assume that the corporate interest groups claiming Loebsack voted for a plan to “raise energy prices” are extrapolating from his vote to preserve the EPA’s power to regulate emissions. Industry groups frequently claim that increasing domestic oil drilling would lower oil prices in the U.S., but many experts have concluded that increased U.S. oil production has little connection to the price of gasoline.

Loebsack’s Republican opponent John Archer highlighted energy policy in a radio ad during this year’s primary campaign. Perhaps to insulate himself against more attacks on that front, this year Loebsack voted for a Republican bill that would expand offshore oil drilling and expressed support for the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Meanwhile, Loebsack’s first television commercial hit the airwaves today. According to campaign manager Brian Fritsch, “What’s Right” is running on broadcast and cable in the Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids markets and on cable only in the Des Moines market.

Loebsack’s voice: In Iowa it’s always been about working hard – tough, but fair. [scenes of Iowa farm, farmer looking at livestock, climbing onto piece of equipment]

But Washington just doesn’t get it. [Loebsack speaks directly into the camera with farm buildings in background; DAVE LOEBSACK on screen]

Loebsack’s voice continues: We’ve got to ban members of Congress from becoming lobbyists – permanently. [footage of Loebsack speaking to small group of people, who applaud him; words on screen PERMANENT BAN ON MEMBERS OF CONGRESS BECOMING LOBBYISTS]

It should be about putting people first – not personal profit. [footage of Loebsack walking outdoors with an older couple]

Just as Iowans have to do more with less – so should Washington. [Loebsack speaks directly into the camera with farm buildings in background; DAVE LOEBSACK on screen]

Balance the budget the right way – by protecting Medicare. [footage of Loebsack speaking with senior citizens; words on screen DAVE LOEBSACK PROTECT MEDICARE]

I’m Dave Loebsack and I approved this message because it’s time to do what’s right.  [Loebsack speaks directly into the camera with farm buildings in background; DAVE LOEBSACK FOR CONGRESS BALANCE THE BUDGET THE RIGHT WAY on screen; shifts to footage of Loebsack walking and talking with a farmer, farm buildings in background; same words on screen]

This is a good example of a commercial that’s positive in look and feel, but has a negative undercurrent. When you talk about balancing the budget “the right way” by “protecting Medicare,” you’re implying that the other guy would balance it the wrong way, by gutting Medicare. Loebsack has voted for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. constitution but voted against the Paul Ryan budget proposal in April 2011, which would turn Medicare into a voucher-based program to purchase private insurance for middle-aged Americans.

Social Security and Medicare are sure to be major themes of Loebsack’s campaign going forward. His campaign has repeatedly linked Republican candidate John Archer to Paul Ryan’s budget, as in this September 11 press release:

John Archer: No Changes Needed to Ryan Budget

Iowa City, IA – Dave Loebsack’s campaign released the following statement today after John Archer said there is nothing he would change to the Ryan Budget.  When asked if he had any specific changes that he would make to the Ryan Budget, Archer replied, “not at this time.”

“It is interesting that Mr. Archer says he can’t think of any changes he would make to the Ryan Budget when in the sentence before he said the Medicare cuts it includes were only a ‘first step.’  If dismantling Medicare is only a first step, then how far does Mr. Archer want the cuts to go?  It sounds like he knows exactly what changes he wants to make, but doesn’t want to tell the people of Iowa, because he knows they can’t afford them.

“Iowans deserve a Congressman who knows we can’t afford to pull the rug out from seniors by ending Medicare as we know it and turning it into what Archer himself admitted is a ‘voucher’ program.  Dave will stand up for seniors and fight to make sure they have a guaranteed benefit they can count on when they need it,” said Brian Fritsch, Loebsack Campaign Manager.

Earlier this week, Loebsack promised to protect Social Security as long as he is in Congress and recounted how his grandmother’s Social Security survivor benefits “helped put food on the table for my family” when he was growing up.

The NRCC’s response to Loebsack’s television commercial doesn’t engage the battle on Medicare. Instead, Bozek seized on the opening line about “hard work.”

I guess Alanis Morissette would be happy with Dave Loebsack’s new TV ad that is out today.  In the ad Loebsack says, “in Iowa it has always been about working hard,” but Dave’s been hardly working. Loebsack was named the “LEAST EFFECTIVE” member of the Iowa delegation by the Des Moines Register.

Check out what people have said about Loebsack:

* “Dave Loebsack doesn’t rank as high on the effectiveness chart as his six Iowa colleagues in Congress…” (Des Moines Register, May 11, 2012)

* Iowa City Press-Citizen:  “It’s hard to say whether Loebsack’s somewhat lackluster performance is typical of a two-term House member, or whether he could (and should) be doing more” (Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 31, 2012)

* Since 2007, none of the bills Loebsack has sponsored have become public law. (Rep. Dave Loebsack, Sponsor Summaries for the 105th-112th Congresses, THOMAS website, Accessed Aug. 8, 2012)

* House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer Makes Excuses for Loebsack Who Was Elected 6 Years Ago: “Loebsack’s newer, so he’s still getting his feet on the ground.” (Des Moines Register, May 11, 2012)

* “A mild manner keeps him in background…” (Des Moines Register, May 11, 2012)

* “Zzzzz……” Loebsack Fell Asleep During ObamaCare Hearing. (Roll Call, 6/25/2009)

Please consider the following quote as you cover Dave Loebsack’s ironic new TV ad.

NRCC COMMENT: “Dave Loebsack is right, Iowans do expect hard work, which is why they will reject the least effective member of the Iowa delegation who despite six years in Congress still hasn’t gotten a single bill signed into law.” – NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek

Any comments on the IA-02 race are welcome in this thread. The latest voter registration numbers show that no-party voters have a plurality in the district, and Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 27,000.

SEPTEMBER 14 UPDATE: Archer’s campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail on September 13 highlighting this passage in an article by Shira Toeplitz for Roll Call.

Republicans are bullish about the 2nd district in southeastern Iowa, where Rep. Dave Loebsack (D) faces a challenge from John Archer (R), a former John Deere attorney. Republicans have reserved $750,000 in airtime to boost Archer, about $165,000 more than the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has allocated to the district.

It is a Democratic district, but even Loebsack’s supporters acknowledge the former college professor is not a strong campaigner. He held a massive cash advantage at the end of June, but that lead could be quickly erased if an outside group decides to target the race.

Loebsack’s greatest challenge is the Quad Cities media market, which is mostly new to him under the redraw. A battleground for the presidential candidates, this market has become one of the most expensive in the state, costing as much per point as cities such as St. Louis. Accordingly, Roll Call is changing its race rating from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic.

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