Republican group takes aim at unions
March 9th, 2011
08:57 AM ET
11 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


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. New Age Independant

    Meanwhile in Wisconsin; Or should I say NOT in Wisconsin, the new and improved "Party of No" take refuge against Democracy. They vow to ignore the will of the will of the people's vote; it's no longer of value as they lost the recent election. They now take up the mantle of obstructionism; How ironic how they tried to place that mantle on Republicans over the past two years and now they embrace it fully. They are a sad a pathetic group to say the least. A shining example of the liberal agenda against America.

    March 9, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  2. Four and The Door

    Why just yesterday Obama came out in support of increasing education spending by 11% but said nothing about any other efforts to improve the results of our public education system. This plays very well I'm sure with the public teachers unions who are pleased for Obama to keep long summer vacations, don't raise academic standards and send more money. Basically, throw the full support of the administration into maintaining the status quo.

    March 9, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. Charlie from the North

    I will do no such thing. I will tell my President to stand tough against any GOP attempt to bust unions.
    Shame on you for suggesting it, I don't usually quote George W Bush "But Bring it on!"

    March 9, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. jaywingfuller

    Yes, it's back to the good old days, before labor unions, when the work week was 6 days a week/10 hours a day, there were small children working around heavy and dangereous machinery, there were no workplace safety standards, if you hurt on the job - tough luck on you, no one retired - one simply died on the job, women couldn't work because it wasn't lady-like. Ah, you think I'm exaggerating, do you? Really? Then, you're an ignorant ass. Once management gets on a roll and the gloves of the fair playing field of labor are taken off the table, why shouldn't they just run us workers into the ground, move the work to China, all to widen their profit margin? Why? Get with it America - labor unions help all of us blue collar and middle class folks, and keep industry and government honest in their dealings with their workers. Fairness is what America is all about. Lose that, and you lose everything.

    March 9, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Rosslaw

    "Union reform". Let's see, unions are attacked and/or were outright forbiddin in the PRC, Castro's Cuba,all of the former Soviet nations and Nazi Germany. What is it about unions that Republicans and dictatorial regimes hate? Of course, an organization of people seeking to achieve common objectives through organization.

    March 9, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. d

    Not even a mention of what corporations contributed to political campaigns? If these guys are so concerned about big money in politics, surely they would have talked about the biggest offenders. Unless they don't actually care about money in politics, except when it's supporting the other party, and they're simply using unions as a scapegoat for political purposes.

    By the way, if government employees with a union make so much more than non-union workers, why don't we all become government union workers? Anyone can get hired, you get paid more, you get better benefits, and you can't get fired! Surely the Republicans are telling us the truth about all of this...

    March 9, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Personally, I have had enough of the Koch brothers and foreign billionaire Rupert Murdoch.

    March 9, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. azmary

    I thought the Republicans were going to listen to what Americans want. From all of the surveys I have seen the majority wants the Unions representing public employees to have collective bargaining rights maintained, so why are supporters of the Republicans, and many elected Republicans trying to stop them from doing so? Sounds like someone wants to "ram their agenda down our throats", to cite an earlier phrase from the anti-healthcare reform crowd.

    March 9, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. Right Leaning Independent

    Complete waste of money since Obama will not harm the hand that feeds him and his cronies... Let the Republican Governors take care of the unions like we are seeing in WI...

    March 9, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  10. Anonymous

    ...Hmmmmm I wonder why American Crossroads don't go after the big banks or big oil or large coorporations for the tax breaks that they recieve! ....Wait a minute, Oh yeah, They are the ones who are footing the bill for American Crossroads!! Why don't they show commercials on how the government had to bail many of them out on the backs of middle class workers? They won't allow unions where i live but if they did I would join in a heartbeat cuz they know how to look out for the American worker unlike federal and state govenment! ...& thats a fact Jack!!

    March 9, 2011 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. Fair is Fair

    Oh please, CNN – "takes AIM at unions" in the headline? What are you trying to do using headlines like that?

    March 9, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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