Super PACs aid Warren, Klobuchar whether they like it or not

Politics
Elizabeth Warren

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a “Care In Action” campaign rally, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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CHICAGO (AP) — Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar are getting help for their presidential bids from separate super PACs, whether they like it or not.

Persist PAC started running ads Wednesday in Nevada to support Warren. The Massachusetts senator has made lessening the influence of unlimited spending a centerpiece of her campaign. Kitchen Table Conversations PAC is running ads in Nevada and South Carolina to help Klobuchar. The Minnesota senator has rejected contributions from corporate political action committees.

It’s the type of spending that Democrats lined up against at the start of the campaign. But as outside groups backed other candidates and billionaire Mike Bloomberg joined the race, making multimillion-dollar ad buys across the United States, the groups and supporters such as Emily’s List said they needed to jump in and help boost the campaigns of the top two women still in the race.

“Sen. Warren is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump and win, and we’re going to ensure primary voters and caucus-goers hear her message,” said Joshua Karp, a spokesman for Persist PAC. He said the ad buy is over $1 million.

The ad portrays Warren as a fighter who took on Wall Street, and includes images of President Barack Obama, who chose her to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Warren campaign said her position “hasn’t changed,” adding that she has “made clear that she thinks all of the candidates should lock arms together and say we don’t want super PACs and billionaires to be deciding our Democratic nominee.”

Warren is third in the delegate count for the Democratic nomination, after finishing third in Iowa and fourth in New Hampshire. She has said the race remains “wide open”and has begun campaigning in states that will vote in the Super Tuesday contests on March 3.

Kitchen Table Conversations PAC, the group supporting Klobuchar, is led by two Minnesota-based strategists. The group says it’s launching “six-figure buys” to run TV and digital ads in Nevada and South Carolina. More ads are expected, the group said in a news release.

The first ad tells the story of how Klobuchar was kicked out of the hospital shortly after her daughter was born with a health issue, then fought to change state law to allow women and their babies to have longer hospital stays. Klobuchar has said that experience launched her career in politics.

Klobuchar had a surprising third-place finish in New Hampshire after coming in fifth in Iowa. She is hoping the momentum will help her when Nevada holds its caucuses Saturday and in the Feb. 29 primary in South Carolina.

Emily’s List, which supports women in politics, said it’s giving $250,000 each to the pro-Klobuchar and Warren PACs.

Vice President Christina Reynolds said the group has been impressed by the campaigns the women are running and wants to help amplify their messages. Reynolds and others have said in recent weeks they believe gender bias has made it more difficult for the campaigns to break through. She said Wednesday the group decided it was time to provide assistance, working under the rules and laws currently in place rather than those Democrats may wish to see.

“While we respect their views and agree on the need for campaign finance reform, we believe this election is too important and we want to do what we can within the bounds of existing law to support them,” Reynolds said.

A super PAC may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, including from corporations and unions, to campaign independently for candidates for federal office.

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Associated Press reporter Brian Slodysko in Washington contributed to this report.

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