Americans for Prosperity dispatches buses on voter turnout push
August 28th, 2012
05:58 PM ET
2 years ago

Americans for Prosperity dispatches buses on voter turnout push

Tampa, Florida (CNN) - Representatives for Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group behind tens of millions in political advertising, said Tuesday their separate issue advocacy arm was sending three buses around the country to rally activists helping the group gather data on persuadable voters.

The buses, making their debut in Tampa during the Republican National Convention, are plastered with statistics on the national economy, making the case that President Barack Obama is pursuing a "failing agenda."

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"The failures just keep piling up," the side of one of the buses reads. "$1.7 trillion health care takeover. 42 straight months of unemployment above 8%. $16 trillion national debt. Billions wasted on Solyndra and green energy scams."

Quote bubbles over photos of Obama spell out past remarks from the president that Republicans have utilized heavily in their attacks: "The private sector is doing fine" and "You didn't build that" are both prominently featured.

Levi Russell, AFP's director of public affairs, said the quotes could be changed easily, so if Obama or Vice President Joe Biden make a new remark Republicans find illustrative, it can be quickly switched in.

Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, said the bus tour would make one its first stops next week in Charlotte, site of the Democratic National Convention. After that the busses head to 15 different cities in North Carolina, a critical battleground that went for Obama in 2008 but that Republicans are confident they can take in November.

Americans for Prosperity, partially funded by the influential brothers Charles and David Koch, has 80 full-time staff members in offices scattered over 32 states, Phillips said, and a wide network of field operations in 18 states they consider priorities. Florida alone has eight field offices.

When the tour arrives at each location, activists in AFP's network will work from the bus to reach voters who the group considered persuadable in November's election.

"These are people that we know they're going to vote, and based on what we know about them, it would lead us to believe they need to hear our message," Phillips said.

AFP's teams will be armed with tablets already loaded with addresses (including GPS-generated maps) and contact info for voters the group has identified as targets. Canvassers will be able to enter survey information from the voters as the group's team goes door to door.

The tablets will also be loaded with pre-programmed scripts targeted to each voters' top issues, including spelling out what they see as Obama's failed economic plan.

The digital effort - which is similar to a digital canvassing tool unveiled by the Obama campaign earlier this summer - will eliminate errors from transcribing hand-written voter information, the group said, and will make for faster, more efficient data collection.

Despite AFP's goal of electing Romney president, the group's bus tour (run by the issue-advocacy arm that focuses on policy issues and generating grassroots action) and political advertisements (run by the express advocacy arm) have taken a different tack from fellow independent groups that are trying to defeat the incumbent Democrat.

The issue-advocacy arm and the express-advocacy arm are run separately.

"We don't call names," Phillips said. "I would argue we have the tamest ads on the air."

Voters who can still be persuaded to vote for either candidate have a low tolerance for harshly negative ads that have become commonplace in presidential campaigns, Phillips added.

"They have incredibly low trust level for campaign messages," he said. "They hate the idea of traditional campaign messages. They like this president personally, there's an emotional attachment. They voted for him last time. And they're deeply concerned economically, not the social issues. Their concern right now is economy. And that impacts how we reach out to them."

AFP's television advertising has focused largely on economic issues, including criticizing the president for not doing more on the national debt. The group's latest ads, announced last week, feature voters who supported President Barack Obama in 2008 but who are now critical of how he's handled the economy.

The group is currently in the middle of a $27 million ad buy hitting markets in battleground states. Phillips said the bus tour and get-out-the-vote efforts would cost AFP additional tens of millions of dollars.

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Lisa P

    truth hurts

    Obama – You didn't build that by yourself. The government empowers you to build that by first taking most of what you make, giving a big percentage to our union backers, and then building roads (with more union backers) with the rest of the money. So I guess yes, you really did build that since it was your money.

    August 28, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    You know what must really hurt? Rep. Paul Ryan's family fortune came from building those supposed boondoggle roads. And his wasn't the only one - the road builders are one of the power blocks of the Republican Party in Wisconsin. While Scott Walker cut money from schools and old people and medical insurance for the poor he was simultaneously shoveling money - literally - at the WI road builders. We're talking highways to nowhere here, from politicians who know where their butter comes from. Try twisting your way out of that one.

    August 28, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. Jersey Girl

    The evil Koch Brothers need Robme to win because, just like the evil Grover Norquist said, all they need is somebody who knows how to write his signature. Willard Robme will be a puppet for the RWG (rich white guys) who will need him to dismantle regulations & allow drilling anywhere & everywhere. Folks, it will be a sad day for American if this guy gets into the White House. So they need those stupid buses to get mis-information to the low-information voter.

    August 28, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  3. Jersey Girl

    sorry...it will be a sad day for America....is what I meant to type.

    August 28, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
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