Oil Drilling Taking Center Stage in Presidential Campaign Ads
While polls show the economy as the top concern of voters, a review of political attack ads suggests a different issue dominates: energy.
Americans for Prosperity, an organization backed by oil interests, last week began airing its third television commercial since November, a campaign worth $6.1 million, attacking Obama’s green energy policies.
“Energy is the issue unless the entire economy starts to unwind,” saidStephen Brown, a lobbyist for oil refinerTesoro Corp. (TSO)ofSan Antonio, Texas.The latest round brings the group’s total ad buys to $12.5 million this year, compared with a combined $5.7 million total spent on ads of all sorts by Obama and Priorities USA Action, a Washington-based super political action committee supporting him. Priorities on April 24 teamed with the League of Conservation Voters to begin a $1 million commercial run that accuses presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, of being a protector of the oil industry.
That’s not the conclusion of the White House, which includes energy policy in a broader discussion about the economy andjob creation. The ability of oil interest groups, though, to attempt to carve out and elevate their issue is the latest example of how the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has changed politics by allowing corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited sums to drive the debate.