WASHINGTON (CNN) - The leader of a massive push for the inclusion of a public option in health care reform legislation told CNN Wednesday that the group will begin running an ad in Montana in the coming weeks targeting the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus.
The spots, likely backed by a six-figure buy, will pressure the Montana senator to support the public option, and highlight his campaign contributions from the insurance industry.
Baucus does not support a public option, and on Wednesday said that he would be introducing legislation without the provision in his committee, and moving forward with or without Republican support for the health care bill.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has already released spots targeting Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who have both been considered possible swing votes on a final bill.
The group, which staged a protest of former Obama volunteers outside the White House earlier this week, has drawn attention for its online petition pushing President Obama to stand firmly behind a public option.
The petition had drawn 80,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning, including those of 400 former Obama campaign staffers, 25,000 former Obama volunteers and 45,000 Obama campaign donors, according to Adam Green, PCCC's co-founder. The organization has seen its membership grow by almost 15 percent in the past week, he said, to over 160,000.
Speaking hours before President Obama was set to address Congress to push for health care reform, Green said that the group wanted to hear him "express more than a preference for the public option" Wednesday night. He said that Obama could do that in the form of a veto threat.
"What we've seen so far has been a strategic failure," Green said.
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