New White House Surge Surrogate, Freedom’s Watch

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Politico‘s Mike Allen reports that a new pro-war group, Freedom’s Watch, fronted by former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, has launched a $15 million advertising blitz to promote the surge:

A new group, Freedom’s Watch, is launching Wednesday with a $15 million, five-week campaign of TV, radio and Web ads featuring military veterans that is aimed at retaining support in Congress for President Bush’s “surge” policy on Iraq. …

The board consists of Blakeman; Fleischer; Mel Sembler, a Florida Republican who was Bush’s ambassador to Italy; William P. Weidner, president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp.; and Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. The donors include Sembler; Anthony Gioia, a Buffalo businessman who was Bush’s ambassador to Malta; Kevin Moley, who was Bush’s ambassador to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva; Howard Leach, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman who was Bush’s ambassador to France; Dr. John Templeton of Pennsylvania, chairman and president of the John Templeton Foundation; Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast Spectacor, the huge Philadelphia sports and entertainment firm; Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and ranked by Forbes magazine as the third-wealthiest American; and Richard Fox, who is chairman of the Jewish Policy Center and was Pennsylvania State Chairman of the Reagan/Bush campaign in 1980.

The Washington Post and ThinkProgress have more. “Freedom’s Watch will go head to head with Americans United for Change, a Democratic Party ally, backed by organized labor, that is pressuring the same wavering Republicans to break with the White House,” the Post reports. “Although louder and more experienced, Americans United is not so moneyed, with a fundraising goal of $10 million for the year, and $1.75 million to $2 million already spent on ad campaigns.”

Watch has money, organization and the White House on its side. But the recently released NIE on Iraq does not easily lend itself to the flag-backed ad blitz, which rallies “those who believe we must win the war on terror” to call and tell their congressperson “defeat is not an option.”

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