MoveOn raises money for ads as furor continues

New ad targets Republicans who voted against legislation to give troops more time at home after deployments to Iraq.

The online activist group collected money from its 3.3 million supporters over the weekend to double its television advertising campaign against Senate Republicans who voted against legislation to give troops more time at home after being deployed to Iraq.

The ad focuses on last week's vote on the amendment from Sen. James Webb, D-Va. The ad says Republicans "turned their backs" on soldiers fighting the Iraq war and accuses Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other Republicans of betraying soldiers.

In an e-mail to supporters, MoveOn Executive Director Eli Pariser offered members a link to the ad, which will air on CNN and in Kentucky.

The TV ads on the theme of betrayal are just the latest in a controversy that started this month when MoveOn ran a full-page New York Times ad the day Army Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, gave Congress an update on the war's progress.

That ad has generated headlines for two weeks, and on Sunday, MoveOn announced that is has sent the Times a check for nearly $80,000 after the Times' ombudsman said the group was inadvertently given a steeply discounted ad rate. MoveOn called on Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, who ran a rebuttal ad and received the same discount, to pay up, too.

Last week, President Bush called the headline of MoveOn's ad in the Times "disgusting." It suggested that Petraeus has betrayed the country by not providing a true assessment on the situation in Iraq. The Senate also denounced MoveOn's ad in a 72-25 vote.

The ad, however, has been a financial boon to MoveOn. Pariser said the same day that Bush made his statement, MoveOn raised $500,000 to expand its ad buy.

But Republicans may have gained some political capital by dividing Democrats. Liberal bloggers say the fallout for Democrats who condemned MoveOn is not over. "The simple fact is that we were just stomped on and thrown under the bus," said Mike Stark, a diarist at Daily Kos.

Stark has proposed a donation strike against Democrats who turn against liberal policies. He has registered the domain names and to drive progressive dollars away from the general Democratic Party and toward his sites or BlogPac, an organization that raises funds for liberal causes. Stark is the activist director of BlogPac.

Democratic presidential candidates are facing criticism for their responses to the MoveOn ad. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois voted for a competing Democratic resolution that condemns personal attacks but does not specifically mention MoveOn. He declined to vote an hour later on the GOP-backed resolution against MoveOn.

"Obama ducked the vote," said Ian Welch of The Huffington Post. "Frankly that's exactly what I expect from Obama. He doesn't like making hard choices or fighting."

Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York initially drew praise for voting "no" on the MoveOn resolution. But in a later television appearance, Clinton emphasized that she voted for the Democratic resolution, which she saw as a condemnation of MoveOn's ad and others like it.