[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/01/art.jcn.cnn.jpg caption="A new Independent ad targets Obama's past associations."](CNN) - The conservative group Judicial Confirmation Network is launching a new television ad in key battleground states Wednesday that in part features Barack Obama's ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the controversial pastor who nearly derailed the Illinois senator's presidential bid last spring.
The independent ad is the first campaign spot in the general election to highlight Obama's lengthy relationship with Wright, a subject that generated considerable media scrutiny during the primary season but one John McCain has said should not be an issue in the race for the White House.
The ad also ties Obama to William Ayers and Tony Rezko - two prominent and controversial figures in Chicago. Ayers, a University of Chicago professor, was a founder of the 1960's radical group Weatherman that claimed responsibility for bombing the Pentagon. Rezko is a real estate developer convicted earlier this year of mail fraud, attempted extortion and money laundering who helped Obama secure a property in Chicago. Both men have been longtime supporters of Obama's political career, but the Illinois senator has said he is not close to either one of them.
A spokeswoman for the group says more than $500,000 is being spent on the ad, which is set to run in Ohio and Michigan markets through Election Day. It will also run nationally on Fox News during the upcoming debates.
The organization is classified as a 501(c)4, and as such does not have to disclose its donors to the Federal Election Commission. it's the second 501(c)4 to launch an ad attacking Obama Wednesday — Veterans for Freedom, which opposes his position on the war in Iraq, is spending more than $2 million on an ad taking aim at the Illinois senator.
"Choosing the right justices is critical for America," the ad's announcer states. "We don't know who Barack Obama would choose, but we know this: He chose as one of his first financial backers a slumlord now convicted on 16 counts of corruption. Obama chose as an associate a man who helped to bomb the Pentagon and said he ‘didn't do enough.’ And Obama chose as his pastor a man who has blamed America for the 9/11 attacks.
"Obama chose to associate with these men, while voting against these men," the announcer also says, as images of current Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito are shown.
The group, which advocates naming conservative justices to the bench, says the ad is part of a $1 million grassroots campaign to "to raise awareness and recruit activists on the critical issue of the U.S. Supreme Court." The campaign will also include an extensive outreach effort including direct mail, e-mail, and text messaging.