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Liberal advocacy group launches Web-based ad blitz against Whitman

The Courage Campaign, a liberal advocacy group that sought the repeal of Proposition 8, has launched a Web-based ad attack against Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. The on-line spot takes aim at the moderate image Whitman has been cultivating through radio and TV spots.

The ad features a series of people standing in front of various institutions — courts, hospitals, libraries and public beaches — holding signs that say “CLOSED.” The last sign is a “closed” sign being held by a seriously ill woman. After a fade to black the screen reads: “California’s future…brought to you by Meg Whitman and the California Republican Party.”

“All we’re doing is telling people what the Republican Party is telling people. We’re just making sure they hear it,” said Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign.

Whitman, a billionaire and former ranking executive of eBay, has been running on a platform of reducing government spending, cutting the state workforce, cutting taxes and curbing regulations on business.

The effort comes on the heels of an intense week of anti-Whitman activity by Democrats. Three different independent expenditure campaigns targeting Whitman were announced last week. The most visible was LevelthePlayingField2010.com, an effort by Democratic consultants Chris Lehane and Jason Kinney.

The Whitman campaign has used the efforts against her to try to open up a general election campaign against the Democratic frontrunner, Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has yet to announce his candidacy. She holds a significant lead — 41 percent to 11 percent — in a January Public Policy Institute of California poll against Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. The Whitman campaign and several other Republicans have been trying to pressure the Republican Poizner out of the GOP primary.

The Courage Campaign spot so far doesn’t have any big money behind it. The group posted the ad on its Web site in an effort to get donations to put this ad, and others, onto television.

The group claims 700,000 members. It gained press for a number of spots it did late in the campaign against Proposition 8, the successful 2008 effort to end gay marriage in California. The most publicized of these was a TV ad in which pair of Mormon missionaries broke into a lesbian couple’s house and started stealing their belongings, including their wedding rings.

Earlier the group released a radio spot that sought to link Whitman to Sarah Palin based on her opposition to AB 32, California’s law addressing climate change.


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