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Americans for Prosperity launches $2.5 million anti-Obamacare ad campaign

The billionaire Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity unveiled a $2.5 million TV ad campaign Thursday attacking three Democrats facing tough reelection challenges over their support for the Obama administration's health-care reform.

The ad campaign consists of 30-second spots targeted at Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

The three Democrats are facing tough reelection challenges in 2014.

Of the three, Hagan and Landrieu are considered the most vulnerable.

Politico explains that retaining the three seats is essential for Democrats seeking to retain control of the Senate in 2014.

The ads exploit the major early-stage hitches in the administration's implementation of its health-care reform law, giving special attention to Obama's "broken promise" that individuals who like their plans can keep them under Obamacare.

The ads also remind voters that each of the Democrats had echoed the administration's promise that, "If you like your plan, you can keep it."

In the ad targeting Shaheen, the narrator echoes the fact-checking website PolitiFact, describing the administration’s promise as "the lie of the year."

The ad targeting Hagan features Sheila Salter, a small-business owner from North Carolina.

According to Politico, she had appeared before the Senate Small Business Committee last year, blaming the Affordable Care Act for raising her business’s health insurance costs.

Salter says (see video): "I was shocked when I got the notice that my health-care policy was canceled. Kay Hagan told us, if you like your insurance plan and your doctors, you can keep them. That just wasn't true."

According to the Huffington Post, the ads will run three weeks in major ad markets across North Carolina, Louisiana and New Hampshire.

Last week, Americans for Prosperity released ads targeting two House Democrats.

The recent ads are part of a campaign to focus voter attention on the perceived failures of the administration's health-care reform law ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

Americans for Prosperity spent a whopping $16 million on anti-Obamacare ads last fall, USA Today notes.

In a statement released Thursday, Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, said the ads were designed to put pressure on Democrats who supported the administration's health-care reform.

He said, "The story of Obamacare is one of less choice, rising premiums and broken promises."

In its response to the ad targeted at her, Kay Hagan's campaign said: "Outside interests like the Koch Brothers are spending millions to buy a Senate seat because they know Kay will never carry the water for their special-interest agenda like her opponents have shown they are all too eager to do."

Allvoices reported that Hagan, Sheehan and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) co-sponsored a bill with Landrieu as a legislative fix to the problem of millions of Americans losing their individual policies under the ACA.

Landrieu's Keeping the Affordable Care Action Promise Act proposed allowing people to keep their canceled plans indefinitely.

Critics note, however, that the fixation on the early-stage failures of the administration’s health-care reform implementation appear to ignore subsequent successes that could render the ad campaigns ineffective.

For instance, laying emphasis on the so-called "failed promises" appears a little out of touch with more recent developments, including the administration's recent announcement that it has granted "hardship exemption" to Americans who lost their individual policies under the ACA.

According to Allvoices, "hardship exemption" excluded Americans who lost their individual policies under the ACA from the law’s individual mandate.

It also seems too late at this stage for ads to focus on the early-stage failure of the HealthCare.gov website following the recent announcement by the administration that 2 million Americans have enrolled successfully for the program on federal and state exchanges.

Allvoices reported that the Obama administration released signup figures for December showing that nearly 1 million Americans enrolled for health coverage through the HealthCare.gov federal exchange before Dec. 24, bringing the total number of enrollees through the federal exchange in October, November and December to 1.1 million.

The administration said the majority of the new enrollees signed up during the week before the Dec. 24 deadline.