Letting Freedom Ring -- Loudly : Secret Money Project The conservative advocacy group Let Freedom Ring has been quiet for a while, but apparently it was just saving up for the big clang. The group, which helped turn out battlegr
NPR logo Letting Freedom Ring -- Loudly

Letting Freedom Ring — Loudly

The conservative advocacy group Let Freedom Ring has been quiet for a while, but apparently it was just saving up for the big clang. The group, which helped turn out battleground-state voters for President Bush in 2004, announced a $5 million ad blitz Tuesday, hitting Obama -- often without even mentioning him -- from nearly every conceivable angle.

One ad, already running in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado, focuses on legislation that opponents say will eliminate the secret ballot in union elections. The ad features a "man on the street" who thinks the policy would be a violation of privacy. Then comes the cryptic ending, "Decide for yourself, whether you want a president who supports card check, or one who supports free elections."

Unless you look up the candidates' positions on the bill (or read this post) you might not figure out that the bill is cosponsored by Obama and opposed by McCain. Let Freedom Ring probably doesn't get more specific out of respect for the tax code, which limits its ability to get overtly political, but does let it keep its donors secret. Up until now, we only know that retired physician and Republican donor John Templeton Jr. has partially funded the group.

There's also a similarly vague ad promoting the presidential candidate who supports offshore drilling, whoever he or she is.

Let Freedom Ring has produced not just several ads, but multiple series of ads to run from now through the end of October. In the second series, which will start next week with $1.5 million to burn, one ad features the conservative niece of Martin Luther King Jr. and a conservative black pastor arguing that voters (presumably black voters) should vote based on the Bible, not the "color" of the candidate.

Still another ad shows a conservative legal scholar...

...criticizing "a presidential candidate" who opposes picking Supreme Court justices like Samuel Alito, Yet another has the director of Priests for Life posing this rhetorical question: "If a politician can't respect the life of a little baby, how is he or she supposed to respect your life?"

Only one ad in that series mentions the candidates. It features a small business owner who says he won't expand his business if Obama becomes president because he fears "tremendous government intervention." He's followed by a picture of McCain with the text: "Will Create New Jobs Not New Taxes." You might wonder if this one will be re-cut, now that both candidates have endorsed "government intervention" in the nation's largest banks.

The third series of ads, supposedly with a budget of $2.5 million, takes on Obama directly. The ads show actors speaking to the camera with a generic photography studio background.

One faults Obama for opposing reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while scooping up campaign contributions from the mortgage giants. It credits McCain for forseeing the financial crisis and the need for reform, saying, "No wonder he didn't get their political contributions." (Actually, he did, a little bit, and his campaign manager got a financial stake in things too.)

Others ding Obama on taxes, national security, liberalism, former Weatherman Bill Ayers, earmarks, offshore drilling, and the "chicken button" (you have to watch to understand).

They all end with different questions -- such as "What happens when we elect a senator who doesn't understand supply and demand?" or "What happens when we elect the colleague of a terrorist to the White House?" -- and the same answer: "Please America, let's never find out."

Here's a different question: Will America ever find out who paid for the ads?