The Post focused on the most prominent players in the fight: Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, a new American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-backed nonprofit that is opposing the deal; and J Street, a liberal advocacy group that backs the agreement. Citizens has pledged between $20 million and $40 million for its TV and digital ad effort. J Street has committed $5 million to its entire advocacy campaign, $4 million of which will be spent on all advertising.
Most of the TV ads opposing the deal are running in Florida, Texas, California and Pennsylvania, while most ads supporting the deal are running in Colorado, Michigan, Maryland and Pennsylvania, according to a review of ad contracts inked by the two groups that were filed by TV stations with the Federal Communications Commission. The contracts are tracked by Sunlight Foundation’s Political Ad Sleuth and represent ads that were slated to air in July and August. Each contract is with a television station, and many contracts include multiple ads.
As of Aug. 18, Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran had signed 62 such contracts in Florida, 55 in Texas, 43 in California and 42 in Pennsylvania. In most of these states — with the exception of Pennsylvania, where Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) is undecided — senators have already announced how they will vote on the deal or are leaning one way or the other. So, the ads seem to target undecided House members.
The ads are slated to run during local news shows, 60 Minutes, Dateline, Meet the Press, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right, The View, The Today Show and other programs.
When it returns in September, the House is expected to easily pass a resolution disapproving of the Iran deal, while the vote is closer in the Senate. The real question is whether both houses of Congress can cobble together a two-thirds majority to override a promised veto of a disapproval resolution by President Obama.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the ad buys from deal opponent Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran:
- In Florida, the majority of the ads target Miami (16), Tampa (14), St. Petersburg (11) and Tallahassee (10). Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is against the deal while Sen. Bill Nelson (D) has said he is likely to support the pact. But the outcome is less clear in the House. Districts that include Miami, for example, are represented by Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who have publicly opposed the deal, and Democrat Frederica Wilson, who has yet to make her intentions clear. Rep. Kathy Castor (D), whose district includes Tampa and St. Petersburg, has yet to announce her position.
- In Texas, the majority of the ads are running in Fort Worth (22) and Houston (16). Sen. Ted Cruz (R) is against the deal and Sen. John Cornyn (R) is expected to oppose it as well. But the undecideds in the House include Rep. Marc Veasey (D), whose district includes parts of Fort Worth, who has yet to publicly state his position.
- In California, the majority of the ads target Los Angeles (19) and San Diego (14). Both California Sens. Barbara Boxer (D) and Dianne Feinstein (D) support the deal. But a number of House members representing the Los Angeles-area have yet to say how they’ll vote, including Xavier Becerra (D), Karen Bass (D) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D). And Rep. Scott Peters (D), whose district includes parts of San Diego, has yet to state his position.
- In Pennsylvania, where members of both chambers appear at play, the majority of the ads are aimed at the Philadelphia market (23). Sen. Patrick Toomey (R) is leaning toward opposition and Casey’s position is not publicly known. In the House, Democrat Reps. Brendan Boyle and Bob Brady, whose districts includes parts of Philadelphia, have yet to announce their positions.
On Thursday, Citizens launched a new TV ad featuring retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, former deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Air Force, who says the deal would “increase the high likelihood of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region.”
Last Friday, Citizens released a TV spot featuring Ahmad Batebi, a dissident and former Iranian political prisoner who describes being held captive. “Iran had signed a treaty banning torture. But they did it anyway,” Batebi says in the ad. “Now they’ve signed a deal promising no nuclear weapons. But they keep their nuclear facilities and ballistic missiles. What do you think they will be doing?” The ad is running on national cable.
Last month, Citizens released this ad, which contends the restrictions put forth in the deal would end after 10 years — at which time Iran could build a nuclear weapon. The ad is running on national cable and in the states.
On the other side of the debate, J Street has 45 ad contracts in Colorado; 21 each in Michigan and Maryland; and 18 in Pennsylvania, all states with Democratic senators who are so far undecided in the debate: Michael Bennet of Colorado, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Casey of Pennsylvania. Cardin, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is considered an especially critical vote. The ads are slated to run during local news, Face The Nation, CBS Sunday Morning, CBS Morning News, The Today Show, Meet the Press and other programs.
- In Colorado, all the ads target the Denver market. There, some of the House members in play are Ed Perlmutter (D), who is leaning yes, and Diana DeGette, who is undecided.
- In Michigan, all the ads target the Detroit area. There, House members in play include Brenda Lawrence (D) and Debbie Dingell (D), who are undecided.
- In Maryland, all the ads target Baltimore. There, House members who have yet to announce their intentions include Democrats C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and Elijah Cummings.
- In Pennsylvania, all the ads target Philadelphia.
The TV ad, posted below, praises what J Street calls the deal’s “unprecedented safeguards” for inspections of nuclear sites. The ad, which quotes former Israeli military leaders, goes on to say the deal prevents Iran from producing a nuclear weapon and makes the United States and Israel more secure.