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Monday, April 21, 2008 - Page updated at 04:50 PM

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Democrats blitz airwaves against McCain

Associated Press Writer

Democrats and independent groups in Ohio have turned to the airwaves to define Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain as an extension for President Bush's unpopular policies.

Progressive Media USA on Monday said it would match McCain's first ad buy in battleground Ohio and start a television blitz Tuesday. The Ohio Democratic Party, meanwhile, announced a 60-second radio ad to start airing as McCain visits Ohio on Tuesday.

Both moves were the groups' first in Ohio, a state crucial for any presidential hopeful and one that has been shifting in Democrats' favor since President Bush's 2004 re-election. The Democrats have yet to pick a nominee as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama compete in the 10 remaining primary and caucus contests.

Progressive Media USA's television ad loops McCain using the same language as President Bush. The Washington, D.C.-based group is positioning itself as the Democrats' attack dog in defining McCain as out of touch on the economy.

"Same old politics," the ad concludes after showing McCain and Bush echoing each other's optimistic statements on the economy and then hugging.

Progressive Media USA has tested the ad on cable television in recent weeks, but this is their first foray into state media markets. If it matches what McCain spent for his first Ohio ad as promised, it will cost about $36,000 in airtime.

McCain spokesman Jeff Sadosky said the ad is only looking to distract voters.

"With Obama and Clinton spending months bickering and offending small town America, it is no surprise that liberal special interest groups are desperately attacking John McCain, who has been able to unify Republican voters and reach out to independents and Democratic voters," Sadosky said.

McCain already has aired an ad in Ohio aimed at his November campaign, talking about lowering taxes and making health care cheaper. It was scant on details, but talked about what appears to be the top issue for voters: the economy.

"As President, John McCain will take the best ideas from both parties to spur innovation, invest in people and create jobs," an announcer says. "Taxes - simpler, fairer. Energy - cleaner, cheaper. Health care - portable and affordable. Workers retrained, mortgage debt restructured, education transformed. Initiatives that will unite us and ignite our economy."

The Ohio Democratic Party's Monday ad seemed to be cast as a reply.

"After months of ignoring Americans' worries about the economy, John McCain is trying to make up for his mistake by making lots of big promises," the announcer says. "After 25 years in Washington, these are John McCain's big ideas: more homes foreclosed on; more American jobs shipped overseas; more tax giveaways to millionaires; nothing for the middle class."

McCain's spokesman dismissed the criticism.

"You can't cover up Barack Obama's elitist and condescending remarks about small town American values and faith by mischaracterizing John McCain's support of smaller government and pro-growth tax cuts for middle class Ohioans, although it looks like the Ohio Democratic Party is clinging to that hope," Sadosky said.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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