A newly formed non-profit organisation is targeting Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2014 to build pressure on them to oppose former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as Secretary of defence. The group, Americans for a Strong defence, released its first ad Tuesday slamming Hagel’s past statements on Israel and Iran and his position supporting cuts to the defence budget.
“Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of defence wants America to back down,” the ad’s narrator says. “An end to our nuclear program. Devastating defence cuts. A weaker country.”
Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the group and former campaign spokesman for Mitt Romney, told Business Insider that Americans for a Strong defence formed last week in an effort to push opposition to the Hagel nomination.
The group’s ad will air in five states — Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana and North Carolina. Williams said it’s a “substantial” buy, but wouldn’t provide further details, and said that the ads will air on broadcast and cable in every state. The group will also form grassroots campaigns in the states and could think expand the ad buy, Williams said.
The ads appear to be aimed at five Democrats up for re-election in 2014 — Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.). None of these Senators have explicitly stated which way they intend to vote on Hagel’s nomination.
Three of the Senators — Udall, Hagin, and Begich — are on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which will hold a hearing on Hagel’s confirmation on Jan. 31.
Hagel was critical of both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as a Senator. He has also taken fire for his positions on Israel and Iran, and he voted against some U.S. sanctions on Iran. He has also been slammed for a comment he made in a 2006 interview in which he said that the “Jewish lobby intimates a lot of people [in Congress].”
Americans for a Strong defence’s board members include Danny Diaz, a former George W. Bush spokesman, and Brian Hook, who advised the 2012 Romney campaign on foreign policy.
Here’s the ad:
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