Attack Ads Skirt Spending Limits

The presidential race is on and it's all about the money. And the money is all about buying TV ads to spread the message. The Bush campaign is reportedly spending more than $10 million dollars for its current advertising blitz in 16 states.

But this does not necessarily mean the relatively cash-poor Kerry campaign has no way to respond to it, reports CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

On paper, President Bush seems to have an unbeatable edge -- over $100 million bucks in the bank and more on the way. John Kerry has a few million. But there's a secret weapon Democrats are using that could prove to be Kerry's great equalizer: a special breed of nonprofits.

They're called 527's and they're not charitable; they're political. They can't contribute directly to candidates but they can do something just as effective -- buy attack ads. And there's no limit to what donors can give -- unlike the $2,000 individual limit to candidates.

One person can write a check for millions for these groups and help pay for negative ads.

One such ad is from the political nonprofit "MoveOn." Its agenda is anti-Bush, and it promises to match the President's ad spending dollar-for-dollar, state-by-state.

That's just one. Erik Smith's group is launching another wave of ads against Bush within weeks.

"We want to make sure George Bush doesn't have the airwaves all to himself,'' said Smith.

Other political nonprofits are run by such liberal notables as Jane Fonda and Al Sharpton.

There are Republican groups, too. But in this arena, the Republicans admit they're the ones falling short.

"So far the left has taken more advantage of this new avenue of fundraising more expertly than the right has," said Stephen Moore of the Republican 527 "Club for Growth."

The nonprofit 527 factor is a big reason why the Bush campaign says it won't ease up on its fundraising machine, no matter how much more money they have in the bank.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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