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Pro-Obama groups plan health care ad blitz

By Ed Henry, CNN Senior White House Correspondent
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  • TV ads to thank Democratic lawmakers for supporting health care bill
  • $5 million ad campaign will be paid for by several pro-Obama groups
  • Senate-approved health care bill was passed by House on Sunday

Washington (CNN) -- Democratic legislators in 40 Congressional districts are about to see TV ads thanking them for their support of the health care reform bill the president signed into law Tuesday, Democratic officials told CNN.

The $5 million ad campaign is being paid for by several pro-Obama groups, three officials said, and will target Democrats like Rep. Tom Perriello in Virginia and Rep. Bob Etheridge in North Carolina, who serve in tough swing districts and have been under heavy pressure from anti-reform groups from the business community and elsewhere.

The Democratic officials said the ads are part of an effort to provide the political cover that Obama and his top aides promised lawmakers in the final stages of the lobbying effort to get the legislation through the House.

The bill, approved by the Senate in December, passed the House Sunday night on a 219-210 vote.

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The Democratic National Committee, the Obama-affiliated grassroots group Organizing for America and labor unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union are among the key sponsors of the ads.

Catholics United, a group of Catholics who support abortion rights and supported the reform effort, is also involved in the coalition.

The Democratic officials vowed the ads would only be the first phase of a sustained campaign between now and the mid-term elections in November to support endangered incumbents who supported Obama's top domestic priority.