Republican group takes aim at unions
March 9th, 2011
08:57 AM ET
3 years ago

Republican group takes aim at unions

Washington (CNN) - An independent Republican group that was a major player in the midterm elections is launching a national ad Wednesday that takes aim at public service unions and their support for President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

Crossroads GPS, one of the two groups that makes up American Crossroads, says they are spending $750,000 to run their 60 second commercial on CNBC, CNN and Fox News Channel.

The spot starts with sound from Democratic Rep. Mike Capuano's controversial comments from last month, when he said that "you gotta get out in the streets and get a little bloody when necessary."

The Massachusetts congressman later apologized for the comments that he made at a labor rally.

The narrator in the ad then asks "why are Democrats shutting down state capitals?" as the spot shows images of the protests in Madison, Wisconsin, where the state's newly elected Republican governor, in a controversial move, is trying to balance the state's budget by eliminating some of the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions.

The narrator answers his question by saying "to protect a system that pays unionized government workers 42 percent more than non-union workers, a system that collects hundreds of millions in mandatory dues to back liberals who support government unions."

The commercial also uses a three and a half year old clip of then presidential candidate and Sen. Barack Obama thanking members of the politically powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for their support in getting him elected. And the ad ends with a National Education Association (a nationwide teacher and educators union) official saying that his union is powerful because of the "hundreds of millions of dollars in dues" that its members pay.

Most national polls indicate that a majority of Americans oppose moves to strip public sector unions of their collective bargaining rights. According to a new Bloomberg National survey released Wednesday, more than six in ten say employees should have the right to collectively bargain for their wages. But by a 43 to 21 percent margin the public says that public sector employees are better compensated than their private sector counterparts.

Earlier this month American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policies Strategies (Crossroads GPS) announced their goal is to raise $120 million this election cycle. They said the money raised will pay for advocacy efforts "to compete with the torrent of outside money from unions and left-leaning groups."

The organizations also announced what it calls a "Presidential Action Fund," a new initiative which it says will be dedicated to shaping issues and themes in the 2012 election cycle. A release says the fund will conduct research, polling, micro-targeting, issue advocacy, and getting out the vote efforts.

American Crossroads, a 527 organization that must disclose its donors, and Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)(4) group, which is not required to disclose its contributors, raised more than $70 million combined in last year's midterm election cycle. The groups were created with the help of Karl Rove, the political adviser to former President George W. Bush, as well as former Republican National Committee chairmen Ed Gillespie and Mike Duncan, to supplement Republican Party efforts in the midterms. Democrats criticized Crossroads' efforts for accepting funds from undisclosed donors.

The groups recently announced that they were going up with radio ads in 22 House districts in the battle over the federal budget, targeting 12 House Democrats for voting against a House Republican bill to fund the government from March through October, and praising ten GOP representatives for voting in favor of the legislation.

The ads were American Crossroads' second big ad buy of the cycle. Last month, the group also spent nearly $100,000 to run radio spots in 19 House GOP districts where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee went up with ads attacking those Republican lawmakers for voting to cut education and research funding.

– Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

UPDATE:

NEA Executive Director John Wilson today responded to what he calls the "misleading" ad by Crossroads GPS.

"People of all parties support collective bargaining, and that fact scares Karl Rove, the people at Crossroads and folks like them. Bob Chanin's quote was obviously taken out of context, with the intent of being purposefully divisive. I think Americans are smarter than that, and they are tired of the nasty rhetoric. There is a strong desire to restore balance and civility to the debate-to have all of the parties involved to come to a table and truly negotiate the issues. I think people are going to see these ads for what they are: an attempt to pit working people against working people, when we all know that CEO greed is what caused this current financial crisis."


Filed under: American Crossroads
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Scott

    It's terrible that unions would contribute to politicians who then become their boss and give them favors, that's the argument. But it is perfectly acceptable for billion dollar corps and lobbyists to give money to politicians and then get special favors.

    So the reality is you just want to go after the groups that give money to your competition.

    March 9, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. Ron

    I wonder why Republicans aren't taking aim at the ridiculous salaries and benefits that they get? After serving only a few years they get salary and benefits for life after they leave. I wonder how much tax payers money all of that adds up to? These people are scumbags and care nothing for working people. Instead of going after Muslims for radicalization they should be going after Republicans. They with their "fringe" groups are the most radical groups in this country.

    March 9, 2011 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  3. Seriously?

    Typical Republican ploy. Lie, then lie some more and try and scare the hell our of everyone.

    Come on folks, let's not be fooled by this ridiculousness again!

    March 9, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  4. AverageJim

    American Crossroads, and groups like them, are the ones flooding our airwaves with the most $. About 7 to 1 over what unions can afford. Also, who do these groups represent? Unions represent their union members best interests. These groups represent the interests of undisclosed entities, all evidence of which points to multi-national corporations, and the top 2% already wealthiest Americans.

    March 9, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  5. Ken

    Billionaires and big business make up the bulk of Crossroads donations. The rich sticking it to the middle class again!

    March 9, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  6. John in Brooklyn

    Republicans have consistently taken aim at the American worker. Over the past 50 years we have seen real earnings stay flat for the vast majority of jobs in America, while the top 5% of earners (those who contribute to the Republican Party – and run office as Republicans) have had their wealth balloon. Now, in the middle of recession – caused, by the way, by the irresponsible behavior of wealthy Republican banking executives – the Republicans are attempting to blame the average working stiff for the fiscal crisis that has resulted. Hey Republicans....where's Joe the Plumber now?

    March 9, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  7. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    This group is against every working man and woman in the US. They want to take all our rights away so the big companies can hire us at slave wages. Beware who is behind this campaign and what their motives are. Don't vote against your own self interest or we will soon be a third world country-a few rich fat cats and a majority who can hardly feed themselves.

    March 9, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. Bob C

    Dear Mr. President we have had enough, enough of the right wing nut jobs carry water for the uber rich. Crossroads GPS should be considered a terrorist organization and its members immediately sent to GITMO.

    March 9, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. linda iowa

    A stop needs to be put on all these political groups from both sides. They are distorting our politics with special interest money. They pay no heed to the truth. Either get rid of them or bring back the truth in advertising law! Which would not be a bad idea anyway.

    March 9, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  10. Eric

    The Republican assault on the middle class is no more apparent than in these attacks on unions. Union workers built the middle class.

    March 9, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  11. Grundoon

    The GOP: At war with the middle class and the poor. They won't be satisfied until we are all homeless. Who will buy their crap then? Tax breaks for the wealthy – the only ones to benefit from the Bush tax cuts as they decimated jobs lining their poickets all the while! – and the rest of us are left to fight for the scraps!! This is what they think is creating jobs for Americans? I say it time to start a 2010 Election Recall!!!

    March 9, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  12. Lee Bartholomew

    Continuing to shoot themselves is not gonna help.... zzzz democrats didn't shut down Madison's Capitol. Republicans, Independents and Democrats shut down the state capitol.

    March 9, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  13. kyle

    It's no secret that the GOP want to end collective bargining for public workers so they can walk over them on their healthcare and pensions in the future.

    March 9, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. Jezmundberserker

    The GOP (Ghastly Old Puppets) are doing the impossible to get people NOT to vote for them next year. Scott Walker and Rick Scott are going to be one-term governors. Walker is toast.

    March 9, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  15. kelsey's grammar

    Why are Democrats shutting down state capitals is not the question. The question is why are Republicans attacking the American worker?

    March 9, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  16. Sam the butcher

    Too funny. These clowns should try selling that garbage to only a third of the networks. Faux Noise lemmings will buy it in a heartbeat. But as public opinion has shown, Karl Rove's organization is not fooling the thinking people of CNN and CNBC.
    We the people are telling Rove, Hosni Walker, the Koch thugs, and the teahadist and Repub brand that we have had enough. The fight for the middle class is on and we will not allow the Repubs to hijack nor destroy us any longer!!!

    March 9, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  17. Tom In Millstadt

    This right wing anti-union ad is a lot of horse hockey. The same anti-union zealots that bemoan the Wisconsin teachers making $51,000 a year attack the left for daring to consider salary caps for Wall Street bankers enjoying seven figure salaries and six and seven figure bonuses while taking government bailout money to stay solvent.

    The riight wing talking heads and Republicans complain teachers and union workers make too much are the same ones saying people making 250,000 a year can't afford to let the tax cut expire, 250,000 is just not enough money. Or that fool Michael Steele stating that he doesn't know anyone who thinks 1,000,000 before taxes is a lot of money.

    If you want to see what it would be like without unions, read "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair, read about the Pullman strike in Chicago, where they slashed worker pay but raised the rent on company housing ( Yes. Company housing, where you had to live if you worked for Pullman and had to pay thier rates. Some companies forced you to buy at company stores and nowhere else at higher prices. At the height of the corporate robber barons some companies paid in company script instead of American dollars.) If you want more information, read up on the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado or the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire where the garment workers were locked in the rooms to make sure the were working. By all means go back to the good old days. For me, I don't think so.

    March 9, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  18. AZMom

    Weren't these the same people who wanted to continue the top 2% earners tax cut??? Why do the unionized workers have to sacrifice for the deficit but not the rich?

    I want our teaching positions to be valuable so we get the best talent.

    Stop attacking our teachers and public workers Republicans! They really are our neighbors and family members.

    March 9, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. gt

    nice try to reform teachers unions.... they will fight like pit bulls to keep all there great benifts...all summer off .. christmans vacations, spring ,, i bet all those teacher in wisconson are going some where for a wk off this spring,,, to much stress...man that would be nice to work just 185 days and 5 1/2 hrs days ...on top of that be off for 3 months in the summer....you bet they fight like hell ...

    March 9, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. Mikey

    The genius of our Constitution was that it balanced power not only within the Government, but also outside the Government, between it and the People. Corporations existed, but were not a powerful force at the time. We are seeing an unprecedented grab for power by Corporations and their billionaire major shareholders. If they are able to dilute the power of Government and the Unions, there will be nothing capable of offsetting their power. In that event, expect a steady erosion of consumer protections, environmental regulation, and any other constraints on thier ability to generate profits by dominating the Government and the People. Wages WILL decline for the vast majority of the population and our general quality of live along with it. This is not wild conspiracy theory, IT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. The power grab is on thanks to the Citizens United decision and their ability to take advantage of people in these uncertain times.

    March 9, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. tstorm

    Good Republicans. Go after working blue collar Americans. What you nimrods don't get is that even those of us not in a union look at the way you treat the middle class and know that there is no way we're ever going to vote for any candidate with an "R" next to his or her name. Your party has turned on the American people and we've had enough!

    March 9, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. Steve in Denver

    Yet another sham. Wall Street, the Bush administration's asleep at the switch response to the growing mortgage crisis, and the economic policies of tax cuts for the wealthy while increasing the size of government and starting two wars brought the economy to near collapse. Let's fight the teacher's union.

    March 9, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. rs

    Why does anyone who isn't a corporate CEO, or a millionaire support or vote Republican/TP? They hate and wish to punish the poor, the sick and the elderly. They don't believe in education or science. They promote a nearly Taliban-esque version of Christian fundamentalism, and thwey are actively undermining the middle class. These people are no better than midway carnies- doing the old bait-'n-switch and steal your wallet.

    March 9, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  24. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The Koch bros. (and now their organization American crossroads) have been fighting American workers for over 30 years. I have given up on the right wingnuttery to love America, so it is time for the Kochs, Murdoch's morons, and anti American workers that make up the republican party to leave America.

    March 9, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  25. Specialist G

    Hmmmm.... Who has done more to put this country in the financial hole it's in- Karl Rove and his buddies or cops and firefighters? Why isn't this traitor in Levenworth for revealing the identity of a coverty CIA operative and compromising a brass plate operation that took years to set up?

    March 9, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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