Ad spotlight: GOP family feud


The rift in the Republican party is turning into an air war.

Usually, video attacks are reserved for election opponents or members of the opposite party but as members of Congress returned home for their August recess, members of the GOP appear to be gleefully violating the late President Ronald Reagan's "11th commandment" — the one that said you shoul never speak ill of a fellow Republican. What we've spotted so far:

Freedomworks is going after John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican leader in the Senate leadership. The Tea Party-affiliated think tank is accusing the Texas Republican of betraying his vow to oppose President Barack Obama's health care bill. Just how far Republicans should go to try to block implementation of the law is a matter of heated debate within party ranks. The Senate Conservatives Fund, a super PAC founded by ex-Sen Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican who now heads the Heritage Foundation, takes an emphatic but slightly more diplomatic approach (it scolds no Republicans by name) in this ad featuring Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a Tea Party favorite.

An even starker example of the schism within the party: a pair of duelling videos, focused on Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin budget hawk who served as the Republican party's vice presidential nominee last year. In one, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group that opposes more liberalized immigration laws, attacks Ryan for his support of an immigration reform proposal that's backed by a wide range of organizations, including such GOP-leaning stalwarts as the National Association of Manufacturers:

Two days after FAIR posted its ad, the Americans for a Conservative Direction — a group backed by Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs — levelled this riposte:

Since last year, the Sunlight Foundation has been monitoring political advertising to build a database for Ad Hawk, our mobile tool that allows users to do what Congress won't — expose the funders behind TV commercials that try to influence elections, or the outcomes of public debates. We do this by pulling data on the advertiser from our Influence Explorer database, which tracks — among other things — campaign contributions.

The ads are gathered by machine, but reviewed by humans before we post them to Ad Hawk. That gives us an early view of some developing political trends. We'll be sharing more with you as we spot them.