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In Cantor's backyard

The Democratic National Committee launches ads for President Obama's economic plan in Virginia and other swing states

Associated Press/Photo by Kevin Lamarque

In Cantor's backyard

The Democratic National Committee has launched an ad campaign in politically key states, including Virginia, aimed at rallying the public behind President Barack Obama's new jobs plan while pressuring a divided Congress to act.

The television ads show portions of Obama's speech to Congress last week promoting the $447 billion package of tax cuts and new spending. The TV spots urge viewers to "Read it. Fight for it. . . . Pass the president's jobs plan." Obama kicked off the campaign with a speech last week in Richmond, Va., which is in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's district.

The DNC push comes as Obama initiates a high-profile sales job to boost support for his plan, as his reelection campaign gets under way with the economy stalled and unemployment stuck at 9.1 percent. The ads are airing in key markets in some of the most critical swing and early voting states: Denver; Tampa and Orlando, Fla.; Des Moines, Iowa; Las Vegas; Manchester, N.H.; Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio; and Norfolk, Richmond, and Roanoke, Va.; as well as Washington, D.C.

The spots began airing Monday and are the first round in an effort that will last several weeks, according to DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse. "The president has a plan to create jobs and help middle-class Americans get ahead, and this effort is intended to communicate that plan to the American people and for the American people to communicate their support for his plan to their representatives in Washington," Woodhouse said.

The president formally sent the jobs bill to Capitol Hill on Monday and held an event in the White House Rose Garden to call on lawmakers to swiftly back it. Tuesday he'll pitch the plan in Ohio, home state of House Speaker John Boehner, and on Wednesday in North Carolina.

Republicans dismissed the DNC ad effort but will likely support selected elements of the plan.

"After failing to create a single job last month, Democrats are going to need a lot more than TV ads to convince voters to support more of the same ineffective policies that have failed to put our country back to work," said Republican National Committee spokesman Ryan Mahoney.

The centerpiece of the plan cuts payroll taxes that pay for Social Security, giving a tax break to workers and businesses. There's also new spending for teachers and school construction, and an extension of jobless benefits, among other elements. Republican lawmakers who control the House seem more open to the tax cuts than the new spending.

Republicans who control the House quickly dismissed anything smacking of "stimulus" in Obama's proposed American Jobs Act after his speech Thursday night. They embraced tax cuts for businesses, changes to unemployment insurance, and promises to cut the red tape that delays construction projects.

"Enough of the stimulus," Cantor said Friday on CNBC. "We can't afford to keep spending money we don't have." He repeated that stance at a press conference at the Capitol on Monday. "I will tell you that over half, I think, of the total dollar amount is so-called stimulus spending," he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "We've been there, done that. The country cannot afford more spending like the stimulus bill. It didn't produce the promised results, and we can do better."

Asked if he thought that going along with too much of the president's proposal could be harmful to Republicans come next year's election, Cantor said, "Good policy will make for good politics, and then the electorate will decide come 2012."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Les Sillars

Les is a WORLD Radio correspondent and commentator. He previously spent two decades as WORLD Magazine’s Mailbag editor. Les directs the journalism program at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va.

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