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Obama Campaign Said to Air First Ad Tomorrow in Swing States

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has started buying television time in battleground states to air its first advertisements for the 2012 election beginning tomorrow, according to a campaign official.

The move marks an effort by Obama’s team to get a jump on the general election campaign even as Republicans are still choosing their nominee to face him in November.

It also comes as the independent group Americans for Prosperity, founded by billionaire David Koch, is starting a $6 million ad campaign in swing states Obama won in 2008 that targets the president’s ties to bankrupt solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an internal decision, said the ad would run tomorrow in Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. The campaign has also been considering media markets in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the official said earlier.

The president’s campaign committee and the Democratic National Committee raised a combined $224 million last year, including $68 million in the last three months of 2011.

Republican Fundraising

By comparison, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who won the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and is the leading contender for the Republican nomination, reported raising $56 million in 2011, the most among the Republican candidates.

The Republican National Committee, which will support the party’s eventual nominee, had raised almost $77 million through November, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission. Finance reports for the final quarter are due at the end of the month.

While Obama’s official re-election campaign is just now purchasing ad time for this campaign cycle, Priorities USA, a super-PAC founded by former administration officials, has run ads in several states.

The group has spent an estimated $660,640 in this cycle, according to data from New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, a company that tracks advertising. Priorities USA has spent the most in Florida -- $214,310 -- one of the swing states being targeted by the Obama campaign.

Florida Stop

Obama will be in Florida tomorrow to announce a strategy for promoting tourism. The state, where the unemployment rate is 10 percent, has 29 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency and has gone to the Democratic candidate twice and the Republican candidate twice in the last four elections.

The Tea Party-aligned Americans for Prosperity is spending $5.2 million to place the ad, called “Obama Sacrifices Pawns for Politics,” on network and cable stations as well as another $1 million through social media forums.

It hit the airwaves today in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Democrats will hold their national convention in September. They also plan to air it in states including Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Wisconsin and Michigan, according to Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity. All are battleground states that Obama won in 2008.

The Obama administration’s $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy in September, has become a focal point for the president’s Republican critics. House Republicans, who are investigating the bankruptcy and the administration’s ties to the company, have said politics influenced the Department of Energy guarantee, which the White House and Solyndra’s backers have denied.

‘Very Concerning Thing’

Koch and his brother, Charles, control Koch Industries Inc., a closely held refining and chemicals company.

Obama’s advisers have said spending by independent groups will change the landscape of this election. His chief political strategist, David Axelrod, said that’s among his top concerns for the re-election effort this year.

“They’re talking upwards of half a billion in negative ads aimed at the president from interest groups who don’t disclose and who can raise unlimited amounts of money,” he said on Jan. 15 on CNN’s State of the Union. “That is a very, very concerning thing to me.”

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