Voters in South Carolina may see a new spot from "Americans for a Conservative Direction," promoting Senator Lindsey Graham as an anti-Obamacare, anti-spending Republican. The voters probably won't realize that the ad is actually from a subsidiary of Mark Zuckerberg's new pro-immigration group.
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Here's the ad, which doesn't mention immigration at all.
What it does do is make a conservative case for Graham, credentials which his support of immigration reform might undermine. As reported by Politico, Americans for a Conservative Direction has been set up by Zuckerberg's FWD.us to provide precisely that sort of political air cover. If Graham is worried about losing support from his base for taking a pro-reform position — as he did in 2007 — Americans for a Conservative Direction is there to assuage those concerns.
The group is doing the same thing to help Senator Marco Rubio in Florida, albeit more directly.
This probably isn't what most people expected from Zuckerberg's group when it was first announced earlier this month. While Zuckerberg's political orientation has been subject to debate for some time, particularly after he hosted a fundraiser for Chris Christie in February, he's generally seen as a moderate — hardly the sort to be backing anti-Obamacare ads for a leader in the Republican senatorial caucus. But Zuckerberg recognizes the business value in a particular component of immigration reform — namely, more H-1B visas for the sorts of high-skilled workers the Silicon Valley depends upon — yielding political activism that is distinctly purple in hue.
It isn't only Republicans that are likely to receive FWD.us support; Politico indicates that FWD.us "will also have an arm focused on reaching out to progressive and independent voters, dubbed the Council for American Job Growth." The Council doesn't have any ads out yet, probably because Democrats need a lot less of the sort of political cover that will make reform palatable to southern Republicans.
Erick Erickson, a conservative commentator, had this to say about the conservative group: "HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA."
I’d like to introduce you to “Americans for a Conservative Direction.” It’s got Haley Barbour as the head of it, whose nephew was on the RNC audit committee. He’s joined by Sally Bradshaw of the same RNC Audit Committee. They’ve also got Joel Kaplan of Facebook, Dan Senor whose wife is Campbell Brown formerly of CNN, and Rob Jesmer.
In another post, Erickson criticizes the group's political strategy: "Prop up a single issue — the Gang of 8 Immigration plan — and use 'conservative' as the word to try to sell it. At what point do conservatives make Republican consultants stop whoring that word around?" Later, he calls the idea "nuts."
Which hits at the heart of what FWD/Americans for a Conservative Direction are trying to do: tout Lindsey Graham as a real conservative even while he's advocating for reform deal to which conservatives show some apathy. Luckily for Mark Zuckerberg, his megaphone is amplified with a lot of money from Silicon Valley companies.
If you were curious, yes, Americans for a Conservative Direction has a Facebook page. It has five likes.