TV war over Obamacare 'still needs time to develop'

GOP leaders on health bill: You're with Trump or Pelosi
GOP leaders on health bill: You're with Trump or Pelosi

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GOP leaders on health bill: You're with Trump or Pelosi 04:08

Story highlights

  • Traditional players have waited to unveil spending plans
  • The exact coalitions and budgets remain ill-defined

Washington (CNN)Opponents and supporters of the Republican proposal to replace Obamacare are preparing for a costly advertising war -- even though the exact coalitions and budgets remain ill-defined as of Thursday.

A few outside groups this week announced small advertising buys meant to bolster or defeat the American Health Care Act, the House GOP plan to replace the controversial Obama-era law. Yet traditional players have waited a beat to unveil massive spending plans like those that accumulated in a $150-million television war just in the first six months of the 2009 battle, according to data from CMAG/Kantar Media.
Both hardline conservative groups and Democrats are likely to spend on ads opposing the bill, in addition to the millions they invest in lobbying against it behind closed doors. Likely spenders include the political network funded by allies of Charles and David Koch, along with The Club for Growth, which said Thursday that it was currently "talking about" spending money to oppose the bill, though claiming "nothing specific" is in the works yet.
    Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC that spent north of $100 million to boost Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, on Thursday announced a digital ad campaign, but the funding was only described as in the hundreds of thousands.
    A solace to opponents of the bill is that the coalition of big-money supporters is proving equally slow to form.

    "(It) still needs time to develop," one senior strategist involved in the spending effort to boost the bill said.
    Three key players are sure to be the American Action Network, the nonprofit aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, and the American Crossroads constellation, which is allied with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Crossroads groups are in the midst of a broader $3 million campaign supporting repeal efforts, and AAN on Thursday announced a $500,000 television campaign set to air in a number of districts represented by the House's more conservative members, who are inclined to vote against a bill they see as insufficiently curative.
    The Chamber of Commerce, which organized much of the spending effort in 2009 to beat back the White House push, is also expected to spend heavily this time around. A Chamber spokesperson said Thursday that it has no plans to announce yet.
    Some of the biggest players in the advertising fight may not yet be known, however. Industries often band together or create entirely new outside groups with pooled resources for specific, intense advertising pushes, such as the arrival of the well-funded Americans for Stable Quality Care in 2009.