Gov. Nathan Deal's supporters launched the first attack ad Thursday against Democrat Jason Carter with a bruising 30-second spot that targets his willingness to expand Medicaid.
We told you earlier that the Republican Governors Association snapped up airtime in metro Atlanta markets and the spot you see above is the first part of that blitz. It's supported by an ad buy of more than $500,000 on statewide broadcast and cable that could expand into seven-figure territory. And we can expect more to come.
It's part of the GOP effort to brand Carter, an Atlanta state senator who is the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, as a tax-and-spend liberal and Obamacare lover before he can introduce himself to a wider audience. Carter has yet to air a campaign ad, while Deal's camp has rolled out a series of upbeat television spots highlighting the governor's jobs record.
The governor's rhetoric has notably sharpened since his victory over two GOP challengers last week. He said Carter's greatest asset is his "very famous grandfather" and tried to tie him to Obama's policies. At the same time, a wave of polls show a tight race between Deal and Carter, including a survey by Rasmussen Reports, a GOP-leaning outfit, released Monday that put Carter at 48 percent to Deal’s 41 percent.
An RGA spokesman wouldn't say whether the recent poll results spurred the ad buy. The group's opening salvo reminds viewers of Carter's comments that some sort of plan to expand Medicaid, either through private insurance exchanges or other means, should be "on the table."
The fate of Obamacare resonates deeply with supporters of both candidates. An AJC poll released this month shows that Deal's refusal to expand Medicaid, which he views as too costly in the long run, galvanized hard-core members of his party's base but turned off a chunk of independent voters.
Carter's camp now faces the decision of how to counter this first strike. His finance director sent a plea early Thursday for funds to answer the attack: "Until we can go on air, it's the only information a lot of voters are going to hear about Jason," it said.
Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas said in a statement about an hour after the release that the blitz was little more than a Washington "bailout" for Deal.
"This ad is nothing but an acknowledgment that Gov. Deal is flailing and his campaign is in serious trouble," he said.
Here's the transcript of the RGA ad:
"We know ObamaCare is making health care coverage more expensive. Costing us jobs. And forcing people to pay for things they don’t want or need.
So why would Jason Carter say expanding ObamaCare “should be on the table?” We don’t want more ObamaCare.
And why would Jason Carter support using Georgia tax dollars to promote ObamaCare?
Jason Carter and ObamaCare. Two bad ideas Georgia should take off the table."