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Crossroads' Christmas present to McCaskill: A new TV attack ad

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 8, 2011 - Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS), an independent conservative group with ties to former Bush adviser Karl Rove, left) is back on television with a new ad attacking U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

The new 30-second spot began running today on stations in four of Missouri's largest markets: St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia-Jefferson City. Crossroads says it is spending $251,214 on air time to run the spot for two weeks. That is a significant buy and means that voters in the state's largest cities will likely see the ad multiple times.

So far, Crossroads spent more than $500,000 on ads targeting her just in the last two months -- and close to $1 million if earlier ad blitzes are included. Crossroads first began running anti-McCaskill spots in June.

The new ad features several photos of McCaskill with President Barack Obama, and accuses both of embracing "reckless spending" that has increased the federal debt. That attack is in line with Crossroads' earlier spots. (Click here for the November ad.)

A spokesperson for the state Democratic Party said, "All of the attacks against Claire are going to be about distorting her record. As an independent who has cut spending by going after the big contractors, she's stepped on some pretty big toes, and there are quiet a few giants who want to take her out as a result. But Claire has always been comfortable as the underdog, fighting for what's right. The real question is: why won't this group say who is paying for these ads? Missourians shouldn't believe what's in them unless they know who is behind them."

By accident or design, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay -- a fellow Democrat -- offered a Tweet this morning lauding McCaskill for her payroll-tax cut proposal crafted with Republican Susan Collins of Maine. The mayor writes that the bill "blocks a tax increase, shifts the burden to oil companies and very wealthy, exempts small biz."

Crossroads' TV attacks contrast with the generally lower profile of the three Republicans competing for the GOP nomination to challenge McCaskill next year: U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Wildwood, St. Louis area businessman John Brunner and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman.

All three have attacked McCaskill repeatedly, but none of them has spent anywhere near the amount on TV ads that Crossroads has been spending.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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