Rove-related group jumps in Schneider-Dold race in 10th District

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WASHINGTON — Crossroads GPS, a spinoff of a group founded by Karl Rove — the conservative strategist Democrats despise — is running an ad ripping Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., for opposing the repeal of Obamacare, a message potentially hindering the comeback bid of former Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill.

I hear the Dold team — seeking to portray Dold as an independent-minded moderate Republican — was not pleased with the Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies ad.

Crossroads GPS is sinking a whopping $640,000 into a cable buy for a spot or spots running since last Sunday through Sept. 3 in a bid to bolster Dold in the north suburban 10th Congressional District contest. 

The Crossroads ad now in play may be more of a headache than help to Dold, in a rematch after Schneider narrowly defeated him in 2012. President Barack Obama won the district with 58 percent of the vote in 2012. Obamacare by no means is a pejorative in this Obama-friendly district.

So why go there? Repealing Obamacare is a priority of Crossroads GPS. 

The Schneider campaign is fundraising off of the Rove connection.

“No one fires up donors on our side like Karl Rove,” a Democratic operative told me.

Paul Lindsay, the communications director for Crossroads GPS told me, “Even in the president’s home state, the Affordable Care Act is causing angst among families who are seeing Medicare benefits cut, health insurance premiums rise, and government spending spiral out of control.”

So let’s go to the ad. It opens with an announcer saying, “Shouldn’t we repeal Obamacare?”

An anti-Obamacare push may energize segments of the GOP base in the district, and turning out the vote is crucial for Dold. Schneider won with only 50.63 percent of the vote — or 3,326 votes — and he will not have Obama at the top of the ticket in 2014.

Through the years, the GOP-controlled House leadership routinely called anti-Obamacare measures up for votes. 

But the last thing Dold wants is to give Schneider an opening to portray him as a go-along Republican vote, which this ad does, by inference. No wonder the Dold team was annoyed with this ad. 

The Schneider campaign has been hitting Dold for his more than two dozen votes to repeal or defund Obamacare when he was in the House. Dold’s position at present, however, is to “fix,” not repeal, the Affordable Care Act.

Any repeal vote at this point is just symbolic. Obama will veto any repeal measure, even if the Republicans take the Senate in November. 

Next, the announcer says, “It comes with a hefty price tag. A price tag Congressman Brad Schneider voted to keep. Just here in Chicago and Cook County we’re faced with a $67 million shortfall.”

Yikes! Crossroads needs a map. 

There is no part of Chicago in Illinois 10. And in 2012, Cook County voters accounted for just 22.5 percent of the ballots cast in the congressional race. Why even go there? Cook County financial woes are so not an Illinois 10 issue.

In any case, the $67 million is a reference to a shortfall projected last June for the entire Cook County health care system, which takes in more than CountyCare, the local Obamacare program. Since then, according to Karen Vaughan, the press secretary for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the county is “now projecting a balanced year-end budget.”

The spot concludes: “Schneider’s vote to keep Obamacare will cost taxpayers $2 trillion dollars . . . drive up health insurance premiums and deductibles and cause local businesses to cut back workers’ hours from full time to part time. Tell Brad Schneider Obamacare’s price tag — it’s just too much. Repeal it.”

A March 2014 estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office pegged the net cost of the Affordable Health Care Act at $1.5 trillion but that’s over years — between 2015 and 2024. Half a trillion isn’t pocket change.

Dold campaign manager James Slepian told me, “Given that this race is viewed as one of the most competitive in the nation, no one is surprised to see outside advocacy groups from across the political spectrum airing ads on the issues they care about most — something campaigns don’t control — but Bob Dold remains laser-focused in his resolve to get to Congress to pursue bipartisan solutions that boost the economy, bring badly needed jobs back to Illinois and make health care work for everyone.”

Schneider campaign manager Jamie Patton told me, “Dold was a reliable vote for Republicans on issue after issue especially voting 28 times to repeal, defund or dismantle Obamacare and no matter how much money right-wing groups try to pour into TV ads, people don’t want to put the insurance companies back in charge.”

There is a worthy debate over Obamacare-related higher costs and the impact of the health care law on business hiring. Mending Obamacare, however, is much different from a highly partisan GOP message to repeal.

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