An outside group of big donors who back Texas Gov. Rick Perry will start running advertisements in Iowa and South Carolina tomorrow, the first in a coming barrage of independent spending on behalf of specific presidential campaigns.
The group, Make Us Great Again, will spend a total of $382,000 on broadcast and cable spots in the two states, according to Jason Miller, a Washington-based Republican strategist who is helping run it.
The South Carolina ads were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
They will spend $57,000 in the Cedar Rapids market, $64,000 in Des Moines and $29,000 in Omaha, the media market that covers western Iowa. In South Carolina, the group is investing $59,000 in the Columbia market and $85,000 in Greenville-Spartanburg. Miller said the group would run a smaller number of spots in eight Iowa and two South Carolina cable markets.
Make Us Great Again is run by a former top aide to Perry, Texas lobbyist Mike Toomey, with help from Miller, who has long ties to the Palmetto State (Miller ran Gov. Mark Sanford's re-election bid in 2006).
Perry's campaign is running its own ads in Iowa. He and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, are the only two candidates to have run television advertisements yet, but with just over nine weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses, the onslaught of television advertising is likely to begin sooner rather than later.
The buy is the tip of what's going to be a very, very big iceberg. Make Us Great Again is a so-called super PAC, an independent group that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political advertisements. Supporters of several presidential candidates -- Perry, Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain among them -- have established super PACs on their behalves.
All that money is going to television advertisements. Romney's PAC alone had raised $12.2 million through the end of June. Other candidates' PACs haven't filed with the Federal Election Commission, but they are each expected to raise millions on their own. And, in this atmosphere, most political watchers expect those ads will be almost entirely negative.