Reid vs. Kochs: Americans for Prosperity not surprised by Reid’s 'slash and burn' attacks

Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge, Jordyn Phelps, and Alexandra Dukakis
Power Players

The Fine Print

If you live in a battleground state this midterm election, you may be wondering who’s behind those controversial ads where people share their concerns with the nation’s new health care law. But if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gets his way, the public will soon know what Americans for Prosperity is, and who its billionaire backers, the Koch brothers are, too.

“I'm not surprised that he’s doing it,” Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips told "The Fine Print" of Reid’s recent attacks against the conservative group’s chairman David Koch and his brother Charles. “I'm not surprised that he's doing it If you look at his history, his background as really a political slash and burn sort of politician, but this is a calculated strategy.”

Americans for Prosperity, thanks in part to the financial support of the Koch brothers, is playing a supportive role to Republicans in their fight to win control of the Senate in 2014 with significant ad buys in states with competitive races. The group’s ads, which make the case that the president’s health care law is failing, target vulnerable Senate Democrats in toss-up races across the country.

Reid has called the Koch brothers “un-American” and has accused them of rigging America’s political process with their significant involvement. Phillips makes the case that the Senate Majority Leader’s attacks are evidence of a failed attempt on the part of Democrats to defend the Affordable Care Act.

While Americans for Prosperity has taken criticism from Reid and other Democrats for an aggressive ad campaign, Phillips said he isn’t too worried about any retaliation.

“I don't think most Americans are going to take lessons in civic virtue from a career politician like Harry Reid,” he explained.

Phillips added that the funding power of wealthy donors isn’t exclusive to the Republican Party.

“George Soros, who does tens of millions of dollars for the left, we don't attack Mr. Soros,” Phillips said. “He has every right, and even a responsibility … to be involved, to vote, to give your time or your talents or if you have dollars, your treasure as well.”

While the Affordable Care Act is the primary focus of Americans for Prosperity’s current attack ads, Phillips said the group will also be taking aim at “the slow growth of the economy.”

“We need cheap, abundant energy production to get this economy going again, and Keystone Pipeline is a good example of that, where most of the American public is with us on that,” said Phillips in reference the controversial oil pipeline from Canada that President Obama rejected in 2012.

“I think Republicans have a challenge, absolutely,” Phillips said. “The party in power usually has an advantage; they're going to have a lot more money on the left than the folks on the Republican side are going to have.”

Repealing Obamacare still remains the conservative group’s chief goal. “It's important to note, for Americans for Prosperity, we're in year five of a long-term effort to repeal Obamacare,” said Phillips, “And that really is what this effort is about.”

To hear more of the interview with Tim Phillips, including his answer to questions about the authenticity of Americans for Prosperity ads, watch on this episode of “The Fine Print.”

ABC News’ Tom Thornton, Melissa Young, and John Knott contributed to this episode.